Of imperial presidents and congressional cowards
By Patrick J. Buchanan
-- -- Now that Congress is back from
spring break and looking ahead to Memorial Day, July 4th, the
August recess and adjournment early in October for elections,
perhaps it can take up this question.
Does President Bush have, or not have, the authority to take us
to war with Iran? Because Bush and the War Party are surely
behaving as though this were an executive decision alone.
No sooner had President Ahmadinejad declared that his country
had enriched a speck of uranium than the war drums began again.
Bush has said of Iran that even "a process which would enable
Iran to develop a nuclear weapon is unacceptable." John McCain
has said too many times to count, "The military option is on the
table." The 2006 National Security Strategy re-endorses
preventive war and elevates Iran to the No. 1 threat to the
This is not enough for the Weekly Standard, which equates our
situation with that of France in 1936, when Paris sat immobile
while Hitler marched three lightly armed battalions back into
the German Rhineland, which had been demilitarized by the
"To Bomb or Not to Bomb, That Is the Iran Question," is the
title of an extended piece in the Standard, whose editorial
calls for "urgent operational planning for bombing strikes." As
that would likely ignite Shia and Revolutionary Guard terror
attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, the Standard wants Bush to send
In an editorial "Iran Now," National Review is already into
target acquisition. It calls for plans for a massive bombing
campaign "coupled with an aggressive and persistent efforts to
topple the regime from within." Ideally, U.S. bombs "should hit
not just the nuclear facilities, but also the symbols of state
oppression: the intelligence ministry, the headquarters of the
Revolutionary Guard, the guard towers of the notorious Evin
In the Washington Post, Mark Helprin, who is identified as
having "served in the Israeli army and air force," says "the
obvious option is an aerial campaign to divest Iran of its
nuclear potential: i.e., clear the Persian Gulf of Iranian naval
forces, scrub anti-ship missiles from the shore and lay open
antiaircraft-free corridors to each target ... Were the targets
effectively hidden or buried, Iran could be shut down, coerced
and perhaps revolutionized by the simple and rapid destruction
of its oil production and transport."
Since Muslims may not like what we are up to, Helprin cautions,
we should prepare "for a land route from the Mediterranean
across Israel and Jordan to the Tigris and Euphrates," and,
presumably, from there the final push on to Tehran.
In all this hawk talk, something is missing. We are not told how
many innocent Iranians we will have to kill as we go about
smashing their nuclear program and defenses. Nor are we told how
many more soldiers we will need for the neocons' new war, nor
how long they will have to fight, nor how many more wings we
should plan for at Walter Reed, nor when it will be over – if
Moreover, where does Bush get the authority to launch a war on a
nation that has not attacked us? As few believe Iran is close to
a nuclear weapon, while four neighbors – Russia, India, Pakistan
and Israel, not to mention the United States – already have the
bomb, what is America's justification for war?
If we sat by while Stalin got the bomb, and Mao got the bomb,
and Kim Jong-Il got the bomb, why is an Iranian bomb a threat to
the United States, which possesses thousands?
There is a reason the Founding Fathers separated the power to
conduct war from the power to declare it. The reason is just
such a ruler as George W. Bush, a man possessed of an ideology
and sense of mission that are not necessarily coterminous with
what is best for his country. Under our Constitution, it is
Congress, not the president, who decides on war.
Many Democrats now concede they failed the nation when they took
Bush at his word that Iraq was an intolerable threat that could
be dealt with only by an invasion. Now, Bush and the War Party
are telling us the same thing about Iran. And the Congress is
conducting itself in the same contemptible and cowardly way.
It is time for Congress to tell President Bush directly that he
has no authority to go to war on Iran and to launch such a war
would be an impeachable offense. Or, if they so conclude,
Congress should share full responsibility by granting him that
authority after it has held hearings and told the people why we
have no other choice than another Mideast war, with a nation
four times as large as Iraq.
If Congress lacks the courage to do its constitutional duty, it
should stop whining about imperial presidents. Because, like the
Roman Senate of Caesar's time, it will have invited them and it
will deserve them.
Patrick J. Buchanan
twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and
the Reform Party’s candidate in 2000. He is also a founder and
editor of The American
© 2006 Creators Syndicate Inc.
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