Another Good Reason Mario Cuomo Never Became President

by Julian Ku

Former NY governor and perennial presidential hopeful Mario Cuomo has a confusing and muddled editorial in the LA Times yesterdayclaiming that President Bush lacked the constitutional authority to start the war in Iraq, or to continue it.

The war happened because when Bush first indicated his intention to go to war against Iraq, Congress refused to insist on enforcement of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. For more than 200 years, this article has spelled out that Congress — not the president — shall have “the power to declare war.” Because the Constitution cannot be amended by persistent evasion, this constitutional mandate was not erased by the actions of timid Congresses since World War II that allowed eager presidents to start wars in Vietnam and elsewhere without a “declaration” by Congress.

Nor were the feeble, post-factum congressional resolutions of support of the Iraq invasion — in 2001 and 2002 — adequate substitutes for the formal declaration of war demanded by the founding fathers.

But Congress plainly authorized the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2002.


(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.

This was enacted (with wide majorities in both houses of Congress) in October 2002, over five months prior to the invasion of Iraq. So what is he talking about? What exactly would have been the functional difference between what Congress did and a formal declaration of war?

Now there are lots of good reasons to oppose the Iraq War, but its unconstitutionality is not one of them. And it would behoove both sides in this debate to focus on the policy merits of the war rather than on largely irrelevant legal issues.

4 Responses

  1. I personally hate to see politicians use the war for political gain. And being turn coats after agreeing to the invasion. I think a lot of ‘dirt’ about the handling of the war was political manipulation of the masses and to save their own necks during re-elections.

    War should never be a political tool, its been used to sling mud in the same manner scandals have been used in politics.

    People lives are at stake and even the economy. If Iraq falls into the wrong hands, the region will change, China, Russia and Iran will vie for supremacy: Iran overtly the others covertly. It is the one mechanism to rule the West and stop the churning of her big wheels.

    The War is much larger than many media accounts state. If Iraq falls then the region is practically up for grabs and who ever gets the most power will have power over western interests. More than half the USA’s crude usage is imported(Canada, Argentina, Saudia Arabia mostly) and Europe and Japan rely more heavily on Middle Eastern crude than the US. Economies will slow, unemployment and inflation will rise if Iraq falls into the wrong hands.

    This weekend a report from Reuters mentioned that there was evidence that China hacked into Pentagon computers and German government computers as well as the US finding Chinese military weapons used by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    Other reports over the years point to a vying for position over the crude to control the global economy, the conveyor belts can halt, power can not be pumped and many problems can compound if the region goes into complete chaos and control goes into the wrong hands.

    The US long term presence seems to keep more stability. I think that is one reason we’re still there.

    If we invaded and left in the 18 months time frame that was initially given, I think the region would be in an all out war on this day with Russia and China funding different groups for their own crude interests and Iran and Argentina’s Hugo Chevas would be in pact to gain control and make the OPEC way of doing business obsolete. That scenario could be today if the US left in the 18 months time frame.

    Had the U.S never entered Iraq or Afghanistan, the region would still be in turmoil because Sadam was building his military to complete his mission, the Kuwait invasion was just the start of his power plan, which he would not give up to please the West. To dominate the region is to have control over the West because the West is still heavily dependent on crude to grow her economy, feed, clothe and bathe herself, use computers, watch TV, read books at night, travel, etc.

  2. The invasion of Iraq was a CRIME predicated on a deleiberate FRAUD by the Bush administration. The primary motive for it was to manipulate the 2002 and 2004 elections by playing on the paranoid delusions and ignorance of folks like Monique, speaking of using politics for personal gain.

  3. I think that one good argument may be that Congress CAN NOT delegate such power to the president, not that it did. People tend to overlook this.


  4. Julian, Greg Sidak made a similar case in a 1991 Duke Law Journal posted here. Does that make it a respectable argument? You be the judge!

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