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Posts tagged North Korea

Friday Lazy Linking

A Higher Law than the Constitution

Ron Paul is perfectly capable of making sharp and incisive moral arguments against the foolishness, and the destructiveness, of U.S. imperialism, whether in the form of the ongoing catastrophe in Iraq or in the form of proposed new slaughters in Iran or North Korea. He has done so many times in the past, both in writing and in speeches, and he deserves praise where he is in the right, as he usually is. But he has also spent quite a bit of time explaining his position in terms of the separation of powers between the President and the Congress, as established in the U.S. Constitution. In response to questions about foreign policy, he has repeatedly argued, first, that current U.S. foreign policy is both foolish and evil, but also, second, that if he became President, he would go to war when, and only when, Congress duly passed a formal declaration of war. See for example the exchange in GT 2007-09-06: Marching orders, and his remarks on attacking North Korea or Iran in his recent interview with Tim Russert.

So here is my open question for Ron Paul, and for the anti-war libertarians who support his candidacy. Suppose that Ron Paul were elected President and publicly declared his intent to put his fundamentalist reading of the Constitution into practice. Suppose also that Congress continues to be what it currently is — a bunch of mad dog world bombers, on the one hand, and a gang of opportunistic doughfaces who go along to get along, on the other. It’s perfectly likely that at some point in the upcoming years, Congress might pass a declaration of war in the name of bogus national interests in order to spread the slaughter into Iran or North Korea. At this point, President Ron Paul has two options:

  1. He can fulfill his Constitutionally-enumerated role as commander-in-chief of the military, and prosecute the imperial war that Congress has ordered him to prosecute; or

  2. He can refuse to fulfill his Constitutionally-enumerated role, by sitting on his hands and refusing to prosecute the war in any way even though Congress has declared it, on the grounds that there is a higher law than the Constitution, and that under the circumstances, following government law would require him to do something that no honest and decent man can do.

In case (1), Ron Paul would willingly make himself the instrument of death and slaughter in the name of a paper rag whose virtues, if it ever had any, must depend entirely on whatever capacity it has for safeguarding, rather than destroying, the life and liberty of innocent people. In case (2), Ron Paul would be taking a powerful moral stand against aggressive war; but in so doing he would have to give up entirely on his palaver about declared wars and strict construction of the Constitution. Which would he be willing to do? I am genuinely unsure myself, based on his statements and actions thus far, and I wonder what others think.

(Interview link courtesy of Austro-Athenian Empire 2007-12-24.)

Two and a half wars

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday a North Korean nuclear test would be a very provocative act and the United States would have to assess its options should it be carried out.

Rice’s warning, at a news conference in Cairo, reflected widespread concern within the Bush administration. She stressed, however, that a North Korean test was an issue for the neighborhood and not just for the United States.

It would be a very provocative act, she said. Still, she said, they have not yet done it.

Rice did not elaborate on the options she said the United States would consider if North Korea followed through on it threat.

— Ann Gearan, Forbes.com (2006-10-03): U.S.: N. Korea Nuclear Test Unacceptable

Now, I reject, root and branch, the whole terror-empire geopolitics that are so proudly endorsed by both the ruling Right and the Cold War liberals who dominate the Loyal Opposition. But suppose that you take those ideas on their own terms for a second. The strategic question that Rice’s blustering raises is this. Even granting the legitimacy of the enterprise, given the way the United States is hopelessly mired in ever-worsening civil wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention whatever the endgame for the increasingly bellicose diplomatic confrontation with Iran may be, just what options does the United States realistically have left at this point?

Everything has limits, even global superpowers. The War Party, especially in its more bellicose factions, fantasizes that the United States has the muscle, resources, know-how, and will to sustain itself as the head of a geopolitical power structure which amounts to world empire in everything but name; and it is precisely these people who are most fond of passing themselves off as hard-nosed policy realists against the saccharine dreams of hippies, pacifist zealots, moonbats, the terminally clueless, and countless other denizens of whatever La-La Land they imagine you have to be from to possibly have doubts about the latest march to war. But they are wrong, dead wrong, and their pose is growing more evidently absurd every day. Unfortunately, we, not they, will be forced to deal with the human consequences of the colossal disasters they are pulling us into.

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