Cold war powers in afghanistan essay

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Cold war powers in afghanistan essay

Presidential power has always been controversial. Congress and the Judiciary have clashed with both Bush and Clinton administrations over matters of executive privilege, impeachment, and the war on terror. Almost all modern presidents have moved to expand their power.

So it is an even bet that given the foreign policy challenges of Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea—not to mention the disruptions to the domestic economy of the credit crisis—Barack Obama will soon be drawing on the well of executive power every bit as deeply as his predecessors have.

But critics have recently insisted that it is unconstitutional for a President to make war policy without consulting Congress first, despite the Commander in Chief role assigned to that office by the Constitution.

Cold war powers in afghanistan essay

Others, critical of what they believe to be excessive secrecy, suggest that military and intelligence agencies ought to report jointly to Congress, not just to the President, as they do today.

Presidents, they say, should generally refrain from acting unless they have obtained the express permission of Congress and the courts. American history and law provides little support for this view. Presidents have deliberately sparked war, seeking congressional approval only later, as when James Polk ordered Zachary Taylor to move against Mexican forces on the Texas border inan act that made the United States the dominant power in North America.

Harry Truman sent U.

Cold war powers in afghanistan essay

Bill Clinton launched a unilateral air war in Kosovo. Congress never approved any of these exercises of presidential power.

All these actions were based on legal precedents dating back to Abraham Lincoln, who himself, in the Civil War, Cold war powers in afghanistan essay the detention of enemy combatants without criminal charges or access to civilian court.

These legal precedents have been followed time and again by Presidents regardless of party. The Constitution, American history, our legal precedents, and the demands of a modern society and economy—perhaps unfortunately—simply require presidents to exercise broad powers.

Luckily, those who designed the Constitution also designed the office of the Presidency to respond to change, to act with the energy and vigor to act swiftly, especially in times of national crisis and war.

The Return of the Imperial Presidency all proceed from a common assumption that the Presidency has little significant constitutional authority of his own but should follow and defer to Congress. To this one can only reply that the Louisiana Purchase, the Emancipation Proclamation, and American assistance to the British before Pearl Harbor were executive actions, and by no means anomalies in history.

This essay is meant to explore the nature of executive power as the American Constitution conceived it, and the historic pattern of the growth of that power over the past years. Still, the fact is that Presidents draw upon a deep well of constitutional authority and historical precedent to act, should they so choose.

Congress by contrast usually finds itself unable to provide this particular sort of leadership. Its committee nature, and its bias toward the status quo, or factional dissention, pulls against change.

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The qualities that define the office of the executive — energy, speed, decisiveness, and secrecy, among others — are those most required in emergencies, and it was to perform this necessary function that the executive was created.

The ordeals of the founding of the nation, the Napoleonic Wars, the nationalization of society, the Civil War, or World War II, were not met without the Presidents of the day making the broadest use of their constitutional powers.

Yet executive power is hardly unlimited. Congress and the Judiciary maintain powerful checks on the President. Congress controls legislation governing the size and shape of the government and military, its funding, and the substance and reach of the law—all crucially important parameters that hem in all Presidential action.

The courts can refuse to support executive action, can acquit or release suspects, or can invalidate laws that violate the Constitution. Aggressive executive action, wise or unwise, can energize political parties to rise up in opposition. Dramatic action can turn public opinion against a chief executive who might have been popular just a few years before.

Unless Congress and the judiciary agree, or at least acquiesce, it is a given that Presidents cannot pursue their policies over the long term, under the American constitutional system.

Two of our greatest presidents, Lincoln and FDR, died in office, spent and exhausted by their difficult role. By definition, dramatic executive action will offend powerful forces with a stake in the status quo.

If a consensus already existed, after all, there would be no need to invoke power. Presidents forced to make a choice between a Scylla or Charibdis will always face criticism. But to protect the national interest, confront crisis, and to exploit opportunity is uniquely the Presidential role.

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