King John of England, who 800 years ago this week was forced at Runnymede to affix his Great Seal to Magna Carta -- which at least in theory subordinated his power to law -- might have envied President Obama.
Sure, Obama also pays lip service to idea that the executive is subject to law. But what happens when he acts like an autocrat? Nothing. King John had to contend with rebellious barons who resisted his taxes to finance losing wars and other impositions. Obama has no effective opposition to contend with. He is free to fight wars as he pleases, never worrying that he might be deprived of the revenues he needs to engage in his far-flung killing.
We like to believe we’ve come a long way in those 800 years, but in important respects we have not. We’ve regressed, not the least in the sense that people no longer show an interest in resisting tyranny even through nonviolent noncooperation.
Observe what Obama is up to in the Middle East.
Marissa Taylor and Jonathan Landay of McClatchy recently noted, “As U.S. military operations against the Islamic State approach the one-year mark, the White House has failed to give Congress and the public a comprehensive written analysis setting out the legal powers that President Barack Obama is using to put U.S. personnel in harm’s way in Iraq and Syria.”
That’s right. Obama has been at war with the Islamic State for a year, and his administration won’t even do us the courtesy of spelling out his legal authority in detail. Lately, Obama has been intensifying his intervention in the areas that were formerly part of Syria and Iraq. He’s setting up a new base in Iraq’s Anbar province, which the Islamic State largely holds, and he’s increased the number of so-called advisers and trainers. The force that we know of is up to about 3,500.
Obama has not been totally silent about his legal authority. “The only document the White House has provided to a few key lawmakers comprises four pages of what are essentially talking points, described by those who’ve read them as shallow and based on disputed assertions of presidential authority,” Taylor and Landay write (emphasis added). Note: "to a few key lawmakers" -- not to the public. I suppose the administration doesn’t want us to worry our little heads over this.
Taylor and Landay speculate that “by not setting out its legal case in public documents, Obama may be trying to preserve his flexibility to authorize new operations against the Islamic State or other extremist groups elsewhere, unfettered by constraints that could be imposed by Congress.”
Yet again, Obama sinks beneath George W. Bush. At first Obama invoked the allegedly inherent war powers of the presidency, ignoring the Constitution’s delegation of the war power to Congress. (Important figures in early American history, notably John Quincy Adams, regretted that clause.) Then Obama claimed the 2001 and 2002 resolutions authorizing military force in Afghanistan (against those who carried out the 9/11 attacks) and Iraq as authority. But this has been ably rebutted by various people, who point out that the Islamic State is an enemy of, not associated with, al-Qaeda; had nothing to do with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein; and did not even emerge until long after those resolutions were passed.
To complicate things, while Obama asked for congressional affirmation, he claimed he could legally fight his war without it. Congress’s ineptitude in getting itself together on the question, with Democrats and Republicans having different reasons for not coalescing, suits Obama just fine.
Of course, what the country needs is not a declaration of war from Congress, but a demand that Obama stop fighting wars without it. Fat chance of that happening, though. Few members of Congress want the responsibility of blocking a war.
Obama’s rationalization for autocratic military action is a license for unchecked global war. And that’s what we’ve seen throughout his tenure in the White House. His administration brags that airstrikes recently killed terrorist leaders in Libya (maybe), where Obama helped overthrow a government four years ago, and Yemen, where Obama ordered even American citizens killed.
Where are the protests? Where are the organized tax strikes? King John would be green with envy.
Sheldon Richman keeps the blog "Free Association" and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society.
Obama, like Bush and other presidents, is an imperial authority who cares nothing for legal constructs like treaties and agreements. But Obama could, if he wanted, cite an agreement to support his current half-baked strategy.
As a presidential candidate: Obama, March 19, 2008 -- I will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. Then, December 7, 2008 (Meet the Press) -- we are going to maintain a large enough force in the region to assure that our civilian troops--or our, our, our civilian personnel and our, our embassies are protected, to make sure that we can ferret out any remaining terrorist activity in the region, in cooperation with the Iraqi government, that we are providing training and logistical support, maintaining the integrity of Iraq as necessary
At this time, in the Fall of 2008 when he was the presidential contender and electee, in a key position as a senator, Obama (like Biden, Foreign Relations) was silent on Bush's secret finagling of the US withdrawal terms and agreements with Iraq. There were two agreements which despite their importance to the country never rose to the level of treaties -- because that would've involved advise and consent from the Senate, a very messy (albeit democratic) process.
--SOFA & Withdrawal Agreement
--Strategic Framework Agreement, "Declaration of Principles"
"The first included: All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011." -- This Bush agreement is hardly mentioned, and now Obama has political troubles for complying with it.
The second required the United States to "Supporting the Republic of Iraq in its efforts to combat all terrorist groups, at the forefront of which is Al-Qaeda, Saddamists, and all other outlaw groups regardless of affiliation, and destroy their logistical networks and their sources of finance, and defeat and uproot them from Iraq. . . ."-- This Bush agreement is never mentioned.
These agreements never achieved treaty status in the US and were not considered by the Senate according to the constitution. On the Iraqi side, they were fully considered by the parliament so the Iraq leadership has expected that they be fulfilled.
Centralization of power is the essence of tyranny. It should be obvious the article documents that trend.
It is submitted the President, and those of the past 60 years, has each represented the interests of Wall Street (with minor abberations). The centralization of power consistently serves the interests of WS. This control is detailed at http://farmwars.info/?p=12078 NWO---DEAD AHEAD
PS Copy is available if you are interested. Make sure my address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The liberty@... address is long gone.
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