As citizens, how can we stop a war? I mean, aside from this potential Iraq one, is the only way to stop a war as a citizen to muster up support to impeach the President?
Factually, no. Altertnatively, citizens could elect congresspeople (or influence already-elected congresspeople ) who could prevent the funding of troops to execute a war or otherwise prevent the President from committing troops absent a declaration of war.
Oh, and just to be clear – discussing in this thread whether stopping a war is a wise idea or not would be a very, very poor idea.
Your comment begs the question, but I won’t bite!!!
I do remember in high school reading about Roosevelt (I think) wanted to send the Navy around the world but Congress would not approve it.
So as in Commander-in-Chief he sent them to Japan. He ran out of money and asked Congress to fund their return. They did and he told them to return by continuing across the other untravelled hemisphere.
So does the President really need permission from Congress?
Just a note of correction to the OP, impeachment is only for “high crimes and misdemeanors” it is not a political tool to recall an unpopular president. It could not be used to avert a war in the manner you suggest.
The President only needs two things from congress concerning war. The first is a declaration of war. He only needs this if he wants it. The president can send troops and engage in battle for a limited time (IIRC 60 days), after that he is supposed to consult congress and get a declaration.
The second, which has already been alluded to, is funding. The funds have to be there in order to make it happen. Like TR, Bush could send as many troops to the region as possible with the current mil budget, and hope for the funds to continue the war, but there’s no guarranty of getting them.
The War Powers Act, however, has never actually been tested and it is highly unlikely that it ever will due to its dubious constitutionality. And I must say that it’s a political certainty that Bush would get the funds to keep them there, as any Congressman that even proposed cutting off supplies to troops in the field would be toast come the next election.
I had meant my post to imply this, but looking back at it, it doesn’t. I couldn’t imagine any congressman voting against the funds.
So I guess this representative democracy thing we have going can’t stop a war huh?
So per the other posts in this thread, have the checks and balances of the legislative and executive branch been practically nullified in this case?
The “checks and balances” are in full force. The President does not need to wait for Congress to decide in their endless meetings and committees when military force needs to be applied somewhere, and Congress, by controlling the purse strings, have the power to limit the extent of the deployment.
The President can deploy troops pretty much wherever and whenever he wants, the only control Congress has is controlling the funding (but any congressperson who cut supplies to troops in the field wouldn’t likely do well in the next election.) and maybe the War Powers Act, but that law is of dubious constitionality as ** Neurotik ** already mentioned. The reason there isn’t more checks and balances on this power is, when the constitution was written, the US didn’t maintain large standing forces like it does now, and a President would have had to get funding from Congress to get enough forces to start a war. Today, the standing military is large enough that it doesn’t need much extra funding to conduct large operations, like the potential war in Iraq.
So the President can go to war when he sees fit. I also read on CNN that he can sign executive orders repealing previous orders authorizing assassinations of foreign executives.
I don’t know about you, but to me it seems like there’s a lack of oversight here. Too much power and all…
Actually, there are several ways one might wish to stop a war, providing they have the imagination and tenacity, coupled with widespread support from people all over the place.
- Contacting your Member of Congress and/or Senators expressing your disapproval of the President’s actions, and potential actions. This method is the traditional one, however, you would be hard-pressed to succeed at it under the current political climate. Not only do you have a Congress that passed a law authorizing the President to effectively do whatever he wants against Iraq (the War Power Act notwithstanding), but public opinion is still tilted in favor of the war. (Sure you can find a poll or two with the majority of responses opposed to the war, however it may be defined in the poll. You still have to run uphill against the typical American ignorance of politics and reality.)
It’s doable even now, but highly unlikely to succeed. Then again, if the military suffers massive casualties, tensions multiply elsewhere, etc., Congress may very well be open to traditional constituent pressure.
Seek undergound alternatives. Some are illegal (and will not be offered here), while others fall within the suggestion of civil disobedience. Old fashioned protesting – demonstrations, signs, speeches, etc. – still works to some degree. Just remember there is a fine line between hindering the political process and maintaining the supply line to the troops actually in the war. Stopping a convoy of trucks carrying war materiel will get you the news you seek, but the backlash may not be worth the effort, and counterproductive. The same goes attempting to get dock workers to go on strike loading war materiel aboard cargo ships. The troops need the stuff to fight a war – and protect themselves – yet you’ll get the publicity you seek. I would think in this case, bad publicity.
Do your homework and research the political pronouncements of the Administration, going back to before the 2000 election. Attempt to find evidence that Administration officials, before they took office and later, saw Saddam and Iraq as “legitimate” threats to the USA. If you find anything, could this evidence be used to show the upcoming war was “planned” from the start. If Saddam is as bad as Bush suggests, why no pronouncements beginning in January 2001? Why did the Iraqi threat appear to manifest itself almost a year after 9/11, yet Bush is claiming the threat has never stopped since Gulf War I?
As much as many people loathe the corporate media (and rightly so), it is possible to stir up a hornet’s nest to get their attention. More media attention begats more support which begats more attention, etc. I am not talking dirty media campaigns but finding and publishing information the Administration does not want published.
(For example, if there is any truth to the Internet rumors Bush never served his time in the National Guard and was actually AWOL, how would that sit with people knowing FOIA documents show the sitting President directing a war more and more people don’t like was actually AWOL during Vietnam? I am already aware of active military, and veterans, from all politcal angles, who have serious misgivings already, because Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld are micromanaging the military. McNamara did that and look what happened in Vietnam?)
Get the idea?
- Explore what may already be occurring within the federal bureaucracy. While we all hate bureaucracy, it is possible in this case that bureaucrats and red tape could play a role in slowing the ever-increasing speed of the war (band)wagon.
I am aware of some in land mangement agencies who are doing just this. Last year during the fire season, Bush never sought additional funding to pay for fire fighting efforts, as practically every other president in the past did. Instead, those agencies had to pay the fire bill out of then current operating funds when the fire budgets ran dry, as well as borrow against this year’s fire budgets. While there was a fire budget increase this year, much of that money was spent last year. This means if this summer’s fires approach anything like last year, Bush will not seek additional funds and again force agencies to find money out of their current operating budgets. (This whole scenario also plays into the alleged Bush plan to gut land management agencies and pave the wave for the commercialization and privatization of federal lands on a massive scale. But I digress.)
However, if those same agency burearcrats spend most if not all of their unobligated funds prior to June 1, agencies will have no funds to pay for fire fighting when the fire budgets run out in mid-summer. Bush will be forced to go to Congress to seek additional funding and pay for fire suppression.
Now imagine this same scenario across the entire federal spectrum. Agencies spend their unobligated funds as soon and as fast as they can to prevent Bush from taking those funds to pay for the war effort. Bush would be forced to go to Congress sooner than expected for additional war funds. When you add in the decreased customer service from all agencies because they don’t have money, the citizenry would in turn put pressure on Bush. In short the taxpayers and citizens in your government deny the Administration from obtaining tax dollars from other sources to fund the war. The additional funding is made public via Congressional appropriations, at the same time people are complaining to Congress about the war and reduced federal services nationwide.
- Scrutinize every step Bush takes, makes and speaks. While there are no apparent grounds for impeachment, who is to say there may not be in the future? If Bush fails to meet his obligations under the War Powers Act, who is to know? A Republican Congress is not likely to make sure Bush dots the i’s and crosses the t’s at the right time and place as required by the WPA. Then again, while the WPA has yet to be challenged in the courts, it might be worth a try as part of this scenario. If the Courts were to rule the WPA is unconstitutional, it could very well be that Congress overstepped its bounds with its war resolution. Just as the Constitution gives the sole power to declare war to Congress, how would this play if Congress would be forced to declare war before any conflict? The President might have limited means to engage in hostilities under the Constitution as Commander in Chief, but Congress would have to finally step up to the plate they’ve avoid for years and support the President via a declaration of war. (Of course, such a scenario does not help the current issue.)
The Executive Branch top eschelon has amassed enormous powers the last couple of years. They are on a roll and the citizenry is still sitting on their couches and not getting involved. Unfortunately, it may take serious war failures to galvanize Couch Potato America to action, but by then, we could really be in deep do do.
Yeah, I have thought about your OP long before you posted it.
Duckster, I appreciate the depth of your response. It has peaked my interest enough to make me want to read in more detail on the issue. Thanks for taking the time.
Any speculation on what would happen to the march to war if communications in the District continued to be as jammed as they were today as the result of the Virtual March? I am not advocating anything illegal here – no intentional jamming of the lines.
Actually, the President can only use troops with the authorization of Congress. The controversial point is that Congress, via the War Powers Act, has given the President prior authorization to use troops within limits without specific Congressional approval.
As to the OP, the only way for citizens to stop a war is the same method as initiating any other governmental action. You have to persuade a majority of legislators to vote the way you’d like them to. The traditional method is public demonstration that will supposedly indicate that a majority of citizens agree with the opinions of the demonstrators.
This is quite possibly a stupid question, but here goes anyway:
If a politician is duly elected and later deliberately reneges on his election pledges and changes his mind on major issues which originally won over his supporters, is there no legal means to remove him /her from office?
Do the public have to effectively wait until the following elections in order to make their feelings known? (outside of Ducksters approaches listed above)
Is there no level of professional culpability within the job of representitive politician?
America historically has several methods to remove elected public officials from office:
- Vote them out of office at the next election.
The first one applies to all elections. The second and third are permitted for those elections where the process may be used.
The final process is not legal, but merely offered for reference. It has been used in the past (I believe at all levels of government).
Can you explain what ‘recall’ is? Can it be invoked by public consent?
Also, as a follow-up: is it considered a crime to misrepresent your views on policies to the elecorate prior to an election? Is there any issue of fraud in that scenario?
Say you were a strong Republican voter, and you find out after the election that the person you voted for and duly elected was actually Noam Chomsky in a wig.
Do you then, legally, have to twiddle your thumbs until your next oppurtunity to vote?
Apologises to the OP for the hi-jack.
The way to stop the government of the US from engaging in a war is to convince congress, the president, or both that they will not be reelected if they go to war. The best way to do this in practice is to convince voters at large that the war is not something the US should be doing. While talking about recall elections and impeachment can be amusing, why would you think that a recall or impeachment vote directed against someone for their stance on the war would garner widespread support when it’s pretty clear that these same candidates are not going to have election troubles?
Aside from some rather obviously biased polls, it’s clear that there are significantly fewer people opposed to the war than in favor of or indifferent to it, and the opposition appears unlikely to affect anyone’s reelection chances. There’s a chunk of those opposed to the war who don’t vote at all (just do a poll of people opposed to the war on this board and whether they vote to get an idea) and of the voters, another large chunk are going to vote for whoever the Democrats run regardless of how that candidate voted on the war. Also, the opposition is not very good at convincing people to chang etheir minds - placard sayings like “No blood for oil” and “It’s daddy’s war”, arguments like “there will be a lot of casualties” (with little support), consipiracy theories (how I’d characterize one of Duckster’s lines above), and similar things just don’t, IME or according to poll results, convince anyone to change their mind. (If you don’t agree with that one then I’ll take it up in GD; I’m not trying to bring down Manhattan’s ire, but I think that it’s been pretty well established that those sorts of things don’t change minds).
And, for Arlo, there’s pretty much nothing like the ‘charges of fraud’ you’re talking about. It doesn’t happen in practice because the major parties don’t run candidates with no track record for major offices, and because doing that sort of thing once pretty much ends that person’s political career. Since politicians continually get reelected despite not doing exactly what they said in preelection speeches (take Clinton’s switcheroo on his stance on gays in the military and continued high popularity through and after his election as an example)