Since the end of the Cold War, the nations of the world have become increasingly interdependent. Interdependency is the idea that relations among states within the international system are mutually dependent and inextricably tied together. In theory, interdependency will lead to peace as war among the dependent nations is no longer feasible. A perfect example is the European Union and its pacifying impact on Europe. The history of Europe is as long as it is violent. Nevertheless, the region has been relatively peaceful ever since the nations of Europe became economically interdependent.
However, interdependency has a dark side. In this new era of globalization, sovereign nations can find themselves held hostage by the economic policies of other states. Imagine the impact on the world economy if Saudi Arabia decided to cease all oil production or if the United States instituted a trade embargo on all foreign products. The current Greece debt crisis is a real-world example of how the economic policies of one nation can severely hamper the economies of the entire Euro-zone, the United States, and the world.
With the aftermath of the recent economic recession and the impact of international trade agreements on domestic economies, should not the United States, as well as the nations of the world, strive to be self-sufficient?
Some prominent members of the Republican Party in the Congress have harshly criticized the Obama administration for its mishandling of the incident in Benghazi on September 11, 2012; even calling for a Watergate-style of congressional investigation. What do you think?
After two extremely long and expensive wars the American people find themselves with the prospect of yet another war in the Middle East. Ironically, the argument for war with Iran is the exact same logic behind the 2003 invasion of Iraq; namely, nuclear proliferation. How should the United States deal with Iran? Can the United States afford another war? Can the United States afford a nuclear armed Iran?
However, the most important question not asked is how much of the Iran debate is motivated by politics. 2012 is an election year and the highest office, the presidency, is up for grabs. As such, much of the debate concerning Iran is geared at rallying a particular candidate’s base instead of a well thought-out policy geared towards keeping America safe.
Article II of the Constitution clearly identifies the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the United States. For better or worse, the founding fathers believed that it was preferable to constitutionalize control of the nation’s military forces under civilian control. Presidential command and control of actual operations in conjunction with Congressional control of military funding enables the participation of both branches in deciding how and when U.S. military forces will be used around the world.
In the years following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and through the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was common to predicate decisions concerning operations in both countries upon the judgments of military commanders on the ground—whether it was General David Patraeus or General Stanley McChrystal. With the recent announcement by President Obama that the last remaining military personnel in Iraq would be pulled out by the end of the year, there are those who are questioning the President’s decision, citing the recommendations of various commanders on the ground. Just a few months ago General David Patraeus testified that the proposed draw-down of troops in Afghanistan would make it difficult for the military to meet all its goals.
With all due respect, there are no military goals in war that are not the extension of the foreign policy agreed to by the President and Congress of the United States. Commanders on the ground serve at the pleasure of the President, subject only indirectly to the power of the purse of Congress—a good argument for why elections matter. Douglas MacArthur wanted to invade China as part of the Korean War. William Westmoreland arguably failed to honestly portray the situation in Vietnam to President Johnson and Congress (or the American people). I for one fear the day when a general decides the foreign policy of this nation.
Does the government of the United States of America have the authority to execute its own citizens via assassination, without a crime actually being committed and without a trial? The 5th amendment does not think so. The 5th Amendment guarantees “no loss of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” In other words, it is unconstitutional for the government to execute or incarcerate someone in the absence of an actual trial taking place. Nevertheless, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen and, according to the U.S. federal government, a reported member and recruiter for al-Qaeda was assassinated under the direction of the CIA. I have no doubt that very few Americans will shed tears over the death of al-Awlaki, yet that does not change the fact that the U.S. government has no visible proof that al-Awlaki was anything more than a crazy militant ideologue. Declaring him a terrorist is simply not enough to warrant an execution without due process according to our own U.S. Constitution. In fact, republican presidential candidate, Ron Paul, is calling the assassination of Al-Awlaki’s by the U.S. government “an impeachable offense,” and I certainly agree.
Ignoring the constitution is nothing new. The 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts made it illegal to criticize then-President John Adams. At the onset of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus, allowing protestors and rioters to be arrested and held without formal charges. During World War I, censorship of all communications moving in or out of the United States was authorized. During World War II the internment of Japanese-Americans was authorized by direct order of the president. Civil liberties were even restricted in the 1950s when Sen. Joseph McCarthy accused American citizens of Communist Party affiliation during the Cold War.
Ignoring the constitution is always easy when the situation in question involves an extremely unpopular individual. Nonetheless, the U.S Constitution does not limit civil liberties to those that are deemed popular or worthy. After all, is not the foundation of our greatness the U.S. Constitution and the liberties it guarantees? What does it say when we, as a society, merely treasure the principle of civil liberty in theory, but discarded it for the sake of convenience in practice? Are the civil liberties outlined in the U.S. Constitution merely words on a piece of paper?
The War Powers Act requires a president to seek congressional approval to continue military action beyond 90 days. But what if the President claims the War Powers Act does not apply? Professor Gaffaney explains.
Look beyond today’s headlines with our analysis of American politics! This blog is a feature of Pearson’s MyPoliSciLab, the most popular online learning solution for American government courses. To learn more about MyPoliSciLab, visit www.mypoliscilab.com.