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Thursday, August 08, 2002

Why Not Declare War?- Josh Claybourn gave a good defense of the president's ability to use military action without a declaration of war. However, it might be time to end a half-century of sloppiness (Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait) and actually declare a war for a change. Russ Reeves made a decent case for actually going by the Constitution for a change. I think it was a bit of a cheap shot to question Josh's conservatism on this issue, but I agree that this case calls for clarity; a declaration of war looks like the cleaner, if politically more difficult, way to go. Why not declare war? In the case of al Qaeda, they're no country to fight, but with Iraq, there's an actual country that has gone to war with its neighbors in the past and is planning to do so again. Please note the Jerusalem Army in this BBC piece. It thumbs its nose at the agreements it signed at the end of the Gulf War and poses a real danger to the rest of the world. Upside-a declaration is a clearer drawing of the country behind the endeavor. The president is going to need to get some Democratic support in the populous, if not on Capital Hill, to make an invasion politically viable. This will give the added advantage of either getting Democrats to go along or be opposed to a war declaration. A successful prosecution of the war will allow Bush to make the Democrats look bad for being weak on Iraq. Downside- it will unnerve some people to be at war; the fear of counter-attacks via terrorism might trash the stock markets. If the war goes badly, the liberals will have a field-day, being able to say by their voting record "I told you that was a bad idea." The economy might slow as uncertainty will postpone some big-ticket purchases, more so if there was just an attack and not a declaration of war, as there will be no question whether war-related clauses in contracts are at play. Not having a declaration will mean that you can attack at any time and not have to wait for a congressional resolution. After weighing the options, I think the now-traditional approach of a congressional approval under the War Powers Act will be less disruptive to the economy and give more strategic advantage to the administration than a declaration of war. The constitutional purists might not like it, but I think it makes sense under the circumstances.

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