Monday, August 14, 2006

The Duties Of The President - Part II - Execution of Foreign Policy

U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 2.

The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the
United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the
actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing,
ofthe principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject
relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power
togrant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except
incases of impeachment.

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate,to
make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall
nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint
ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court,
and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein
otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but theCongress
may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper,
in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen
during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at
the end of their next session.

A President's duty as commander in chief are quite clear. His duties in the realm of foreign policy, not so much. It is as if the founders demanded the chief executive delegate his authority in these matters. However, it is clear through history and precedent that the President provides the nation's vision of foreign policy.

In 2001, President Bush faced perhaps the most daunting task of any American leader since Lincoln. How do you confront an enemy that wears no uniform, holds no country as home and knows no surrender? The initial reaction was the most human instinct of fight or flee. Bush chose appropriately to fight. The American response to destroy the infrastructure of al-Qaeda was swift and effective.

Bush now faced the more difficult problem of how to prevent the hydra from growing another head.

What followed was the most radical shift in American foreign policy since the expansionist era of Theodore Roosevelt.

It was not done lightly. It was not done without preparation. It was not done without forethought.

In 1992, on the heels of the collapse of America's greatest enemy, the Soviet Union, several prominent conservatives formed the Project for a New American Century. It's primary purpose became saping American policy to prevent another superpower from emerging. The tool for the task would be the American military.

In 2000, this same group advocated an American military presence in vital areas of the world in order to express American influence. This presence would allow the U.S. to act instead of react. It was the formula that would birth the new policy of pre-emptive war. American would not wait to be attacked again.

As fear of future attacks still resonated in the minds of Americans, President Bush used the 2002 State of the Union to announce a new "axis of evil". Included were Iran, North Korea and Iraq. The message was clear. These states were actively pursuing courses that were contrary to American security.

North Korea certainly had a nuclear program although ties to terrorist organizations were sketchy. Iran wanted to have a nuclear program and no single country had done more to foster terror in the past 25 years.

But Iraq?

The Gulf War of 1991 followed by the establishment of no-fly zones and Operation Desert Fox had effectively neutered Iraq. Flareups continued as Iraqi military would target allied planes resulting in their elimination from the face of the earth in a rain of fire. However, Saddam Hussein was trapped in a swath of land a few hundred miles wide in central Iraq. Buffered from harming his neighbors and left to issue vague threats that are the last resort of the desperate.

Also, Iraq was arguably the most secular state in the region. Although muslim, Saddam and his cronies lavished in western decadence. Extremist views, particularly towards women and the majority Shia, certainly existed but they paled compared to daily oppressions in neighboring Saudia Arabia and Syria. It could be argued that Iraq is a muslim state more by tradition and political expediency than by adherence to a fundamentalist viewpoint.

Iraq had little known ties to terror outside its borders. Much has been made of Saddam Hussein's contribution to Palistinian suicide bombers. However, it would be a great challenge to find any other connection to terror organizations. By all accounts, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden hated each other. One was a true believer who wanted nothing more than to turn the Middle East into an extremist hegemony. The other was a toothless Caligula who cared less about spreading a vision of Islam and more about his next palace. It's conceivable that Saddam Hussein was not far down Osama's list of people to remove.

Nothing about Iraq added up. Or did it?

Pre-emptive war is the logical conclusion of PNAC's tip of the sword as foreign policy strategy. What was needed was a laboratory.

Next: Part III - The Logical Conclusion

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