Wednesday, September 12, 2007

No Checks, No Balances

Prof Jack Balkin says:
The sad lesson of the past year is that the modern Presidency-- armed with control over military intelligence and a large standing army-- can have its way in matters of war even if the President's policies are very unpopular, and there is very little Congress can do to stop it.

This lesson should be abstracted from one's feelings about the current occupant of the White House. George W. Bush is a failure-- I won't mince words-- but even a failed President can do pretty much what he wants in war given the way our constitutional system has developed following the Second World War and the rise of the National Security State. The ascendant National Surveillance State, if anything, makes the President's hand even stronger.

We are moving, or more correctly, we have already moved, toward a system of one person rule on matters of war and peace. It is a very dangerous tendency in American constitutionalism. If you think that the Iraq episode has been a disaster, imagine an even more foolhardy and reckless President taking even greater and more dangerous risks. The Iraq war demonstrates that, in the context of modern politics and contemporary security threats, the framers' original system of checks and balances has utterly failed us.
Read the whole thing.

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