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Bruce Fein

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President Obama's Political Sepulcher

Posted: 07/05/11 12:54 PM ET

President Barack Obama's political sepulcher will be war. His extinguishment as a political comet could have been avoided if he had respected the exclusive constitutional responsibility of Congress to commence war.

To defeat fifty al Qaeda in Afghanistan, he has deployed tens of thousands of troops at an annual cost exceeding $120 billion to support a corrupt and tribal government devoid of popular legitimacy. President Hamid Karzai was elected with at least one million fraudulent votes. He is seeking to oust scores of parliamentarians to accommodate his own toadies. The signature of the now-failed Kabul Bank was a secret multi-million dollar, no document loan to political favorites of the Karzai administration. Justice is for sale.

President Obama has inflated the danger of al Qaeda manifold to justify his exorbitant fool's errand. If his troop to al Qaeda militant ratio in Afghanistan had been employed during World War II in fighting Germany and Japan, the United States would have deployed 3.5 billion military personnel abroad, vastly more than the entire United States population.

The Iraq war endures as ancient sectarian animosities and suspicions fuel partition and domestic strife. Tens of thousands of American troops remain there as Iraq totters on the brink of civil war.

President Obama's gratuitous war against Libya exhibits signs of an endless quagmire with no purpose relevant to the defense of the United States. If, as the president insists, saving civilian lives justifies war, scores of nations are in the queue for the United States to attack, for example, Syria, Bahrain, North Korea, Burma, China, Russia and Zimbabwe. Obama's continuation of a global and perpetual war against international terrorism has thrust the United States military and the C.I.A. into Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. He has warned China over Taiwan and oil and gas in the South China Sea. He has threatened Iran with war if it acquires nuclear weapons.

In sum, President Obama is bettering the instruction of the Roman Empire. It initially fought to defend itself. Then it fought to defend allies. Then it invented allies to defend. Then it fought for the adolescent excitement of swagger. Finally, the Empire fell into bankruptcy and ruination from overreach and arrogance.

In fighting endless wars with national security spending approximating $1.2 trillion annually, Obama has compromised the Constitution. He has set a precedent of unconstitutional unilateral presidential war making that will lie around like a loaded weapon until a Caligula occupies the White House and overthrows the Republic. Obama has insisted that the President may initiate war at whim under the banner of regional stability, the credibility of the United Nations Security Council, or whatever he decrees is in the national interest. He sneers at the War Powers Resolution of 1973 enacted to handcuff illegal executive branch war making. He absurdly decrees that bombing or rocketing Libya is not "hostilities" because the destruction of the enemy excludes American ground troops and imminent danger to United States pilots. That argument would absurdly exclude as an act of war a United States nuclear missile attack on Libya featuring ICBMs and SLBMs that incinerated every living thing there.

Obama's constitutional pontificating over his war powers is indistinguishable from propaganda. As I explained in my Impeachment Resolution (drafted after President Obama initiated war against Libya), my demand for constitutional consistency from Vice President Joe Biden, my denouncement of Senator John McCain, and my Tea Party clarion call, Article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution entrusts Congress with the exclusive power to cross the threshold from peace to war, which makes what is customarily murder legal. The decision to deny the President the authority to commence war--praised by many as the crown jewel of the Constitution--was no whimsy. The Founding Fathers feared that the executive branch would concoct excuses for military conflict to aggrandize presidential power, to conduct personal vendettas, to operate secret government shielded from congressional or public oversight, or to leave a mark in the annals of history. Unilateral war, the Constitution's makers understood, is irreconcilable with liberty, the glory of a Republic.

President Obama could easily extricate himself from his financially reckless adventurist wars by informing Congress that he will end offensive use of the American military everywhere in the world within 30 days unless a law is passed and sent to his desk for signature that demands that the offensives continue. Depend upon it, Congress would balk. Since World War II, Congress has ducked accountability for the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the Bosnian and Kosovo wars, the Iraq war, and American hostilities in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya.

But like Julius Caesar, Obama prefers the excitement of bestriding the world like a colossus to the quiet tranquility of non-belligerency and the rule of law. Whom the Gods would destroy, they first intoxicate with power.