The bipartisan warfare state of the USA and an exemplified historical account of such, clearly seen under the Nixon administration and the “technique” chosen for his impeachment (article exert).
Another reason is the bipartisan consensus in support of the warfare state. Many politicians and intellectuals in both parties support an imperial presidency because they recognize that the Founders’ vision of a limited executive branch is incompatible with an aggressive foreign policy. When Republicans are in power “neoconservatives” take the lead, while when Democrats are in power “humanitarian interventionists” take the lead. Regardless of party or ideological label, they share the same goal — to protect the executive branch from being constrained by the constitutional requirement that the president seek congressional approval before waging war.
Cribb Note: The USA has only declared war on 11 occasions in 5 encompassing events, the first in 1812 against Great Britain and the last group being in WWII. Truman essentially began the current approach of using the military in a “police action” as opposed to a war deployment (declared by congress first) in 1947 associated with the Korean “non-war”. In a continued effort to combat the threat of Communism, Kennedy followed this approach in Vietnam as did Johnson and Nixon in successive turns. This adaptation of imperial presidential action appeared to climax when Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia and other evidence of egregious USA war “crimes” during the Vietnam “non-war” became known to the public at large. The War Powers Resolution, aka the War Powers Act, was then supposedly passed/enacted over the veto of Nixon, to check presidential power via congressional oversight. The War Powers Act is a joint resolution carrying the weight of a bill or law. It states that the presidents use of force in deployment must be related to 1) a declaration of war, 2) specific statutory authorization, or 3) a national emergency created by an attack on the USA or its forces. Could that excuse or provocation be any broader and ambiguous in context? Congress must then approve such action in 60-90 days for the effort to continue. The problem, like a lot of other US policy, is total intentional misdirection and slight of hand by the US government to appear to the people like this War Powers Act reigns in presidential power, when in fact it allows for the easy circumvention of congress from actually and definitively enacting a Declaration of War. Again, such an antic only helps remove checks, balances, and accountability from the entire system and most importantly trivializes the act of war in its enactment and in the perception of such by the american people. It is vile and its overreach is obviously intended.
The Vietnam “non-war” lasted for 10 years and 7 months. The Afghanistan “non-war” is now the longest “non-war” in US history, having lasted 13 years and 2 months.
The strength of the bipartisan consensus that the president should have limitless discretion in committing troops to war is illustrated by the failure of an attempt to add an article dealing with Nixon’s “secret bombing” of Cambodia to the articles of impeachment. Even at the low point of support for the imperial presidency, Congress still refused to rein in the president’s war-making powers.
The failure to include the Cambodia invasion in the articles of impeachment may well be the main reason Watergate had little to do with reining in the imperial presidency. Because the imperial presidency is rooted in the war power, attempts to rein in the imperial presidency that do not work to restore Congress’ constitutional authority to declare war are doomed to fail.
Repealing Nixon’s legacy requires building a new bipartisan coalition in favor of peace and civil liberties, rejecting what writer Gene Healy calls “the cult of the presidency,” and placing loyalty to the Constitution above partisanship. An important step must be restoring congressional supremacy in matters of war and peace.
Ron Paul 9-7-14