War Powers Resolution
I’m often told by conservatives that in 2012, they would support literally anyone but Obama. The basic suggestion is that Obama is so terrible, that a sack of oats would do a better job (Oats/Barley 2012!). By not pledging my undying support for whomever the GOP nominates, then, I am in effect endorsing Obama. Of course, many of these conservatives would change their tune if it were Ron Paul against Obama, but that’s not the important fact here. What matters is the idea that any of the primary candidates would be better than the incumbent.
One of these wannabes is Tim Pawlenty, former Governor of Minnesota. While governor, Pawlenty established a fairly decent record. There are a number of things that make him preferable in my eyes to his principle opponent, Mitt Romney. Leaving aside his often infuriating pandering to social conservatives, Pawlenty, at least up to this point, has been one of the few mainstream candidates that I could find myself able to support.
But some comments he made on Tuesday have caused me to seriously question this position. In speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations, Pawlenty continued what has become a very alarming tendency to embrace the same reckless hawkishness that many conservatives have found themselves criticizing in Obama. Perhaps the most troubling quote from the speech is the suggestion that he would only consult Congress as a “courtesy” when engaging in war overseas. This is a position that makes him even more dangerous than Bush or Obama.
While some conservative bloggers have tried to make a case for libertarians voting for Mitt Romney, they haven’t really been able to connect because they fail to understand where we’re coming from in our perspective on politics and public policy. However, Liz Mair, a libertarian who works as a political consultant and strategist, explains that she is voting for Romney, despite reservations about some of his policies:
Earlier this week, I noted that Mitt Romney had taken a view of presidential war powers that was even more troubling than that of President Barack Obama, who had taken part in a bombing campaign of Libya without congressional approval. Romney told Bob Schieffer, host of Face the Nation, that he didn’t need authorization from Congress to go to war with Iran.
For all the recent talk from our conservative friends about executive overreach by President Obama, Romney comments are perhaps even more startling given the potential consquences of unilaterally going to war with Iran, both from constitutional and foreign policy perspectives. And even though he has endorsed him, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) isn’t happy with Romney’s recent declaration:
I do not yet know if I will find a Romney presidency more acceptable on foreign policy. But I do know that I must oppose the most recent statements made by Mitt Romney in which he says he, as president, could take us to war unilaterally with Iran, without any approval from Congress. His exact words were:
I can assure you if I’m president, the Iranians will have no question but that I will be willing to take military action if necessary to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world. I don’t believe at this stage, therefore, if I’m president that we need to have a war powers approval or special authorization for military force. The president has that capacity now.
This is a misreading of the role of the president and Congress in declaring war.
Last year, many libertarians and conservatives criticized President Barack Obama for involving the United States in air campaigns in Libya to oust Moammar Gadhafi, the country’s dictator, without congressional approval. The Obama Administration claimed the authority to bomb Libya through an alarming interpretation of executive power that they said derived the War Powers Resolution and, thus, did not need approval from Congress. Interestingly enough, two of Obama’s top advisers warned that involving the United States in Libya would require congressional approval. Their advice was ignored.
It appears now that Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, has taken a page out of Obama’s book by claiming in an interview on Face the Nation that he could go to war with Iran, a frequent target of neo-conservatives, without congressional approval. Here is the revelant quote (emphasis mine):
In a new video from the Cato Institute, John Samples and Gene Healy explain how President Barack Obama’s war in Libya, which is being conducted without the consent of Congress, expands the War Powers Resolution (WPR) far beyond what it was intended. If allowed to stand, this new interpretation of WPR a president can now bomb a country whenever he wants, a precedent that could have negative consequences for the United States: