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No More Blank Checks

By Daniel M Pourkesali, Virginia (Member of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran)


Last Saturday's anti-war demonstrations in DC and other cities accross the country brought together an estimated two hundred thousand people in what was hailed as the largest antiwar protest since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, and served as a reminder to law makers in Cogress on how most Americans feel about President Bush's war policy. As expected, Mr. Bush and his increasingly isolated "coalition of the willing" in Congress did their best to ignore them. But with the new polls [1] showing his approval rating around 30%, the Commander-in-Chief stands before the Congress and the nation as an army of one.


The march symbolized the people's global war against terrorism which began with the Vietnam War demonstrations and meant as a strong repudiation of the policies of the present administration led by a president who does not find himself bound by the very laws written following the fall of the last oppressive regime ruling this nation prior to the1776 American Revolution [2].


The great Greek philosopher Aristotle [3] said that a tyrant declares war to deny his subjects leisure and to impose on them the constant need for a leader.  Our founding fathers were well aware of this potential abuse of power which is why they instituted a system of checks and balances, or separation of powers, dividing up the government into three branches with each having certain responsibilities as well as powers over the other branches to prevent formation of such tyrannical system. Among them is Article One, Section 8, and Clause 11 of the U.S. Constitution which gives Congress the exclusive power to declare war.


Yet in the years following WWII, many American presidents have not sought formal declarations of war, instead maintaining that they have the constitutional authority as commander-in-chief under Article 2, Section 2 to use the military for "police actions" using the fear of spreading "communism" to rationalize those acts.


After fall of the Soviet Union, it became far more difficult for the executive branch to justify such unilateral actions but the events of 9/11/01 provided what many in the Bush administration including the president himself declared as "a great opportunity" [4].   National security advisor to the president at the time, Condoleezza Rice, stated the same while addressing senior members of the National Security Council to "think about how you capitalize on these opportunities to fundamentally change the shape of the world" [5]. The National Security Strategy of the United States [6] issued by the Bush administration in September 2002 also states that "The events of September 11, 2001, opened vast, new opportunities".


The administration wasted no time using the newfound "opportunities" to force Congress give up its constitutional duty by authorizing the President to do "whatever is necessary" to wage his new and endless "War on Terror". Given such powers, Bush declared that "Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists". That "the United States will use every necessary weapon of war" and "Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen".  In a document released on 15 March 2005 titled "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations" [7] the Pentagon has specifically authorized the use of nuclear weapons on non-nuclear adversaries such as Iran and Syria while ordinary citizens are told to expect significant curtailment of their civil liberties in exchange for security.


Given a blank check to do whatever, wherever, and by whatever means he chooses, President Bush has made it clear that as the ultimate 'decider' he intends to keep drawing on that check for a long time to come. It is time Congress took notice of those Americans who marched in Washington last Saturday; exercise its constitutional responsibility and void that blank check now.






[4] Bob Woodward, Bush at War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002), P. 32

[5] Chalmers Johnson, "The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (New York: Henry Hold, 2004), P. 229







... Payvand News - 2/1/07 ... --

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