What History Says About Biden’s Power to Strike the Houthis – 24 Global News | Latest International Breaking News Today

What History Says About Biden’s Power to Strike the Houthis – Latest International Breaking News Today

Georgia Rep.
Marjorie Taylor Greene weighed in as well, tweeting that “the President must come to Congress for permission before going to war. Biden can not solely decide to bomb Yemen.”

In their criticisms of Biden, liberal and conservative lawmakers have cited Article I of the Constitution, which vests Congress — not the president — with the power to declare war. But the Houthi situation is not so simple. In the modern era, presidents of both parties have exercised wide latitude in their position as commander-in-chief to order limited or targeted military strikes against hostile actors. Donald Trump ordered
strikes in Syria
. Barack Obama did the
same in Libya, among other countries.
George W. Bush authorized drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. And so on.

Even going back over 200 years, the Founding Fathers grappled with the question of the commander-in-chief’s defensive capabilities, and while they had competing visions of the executive’s powers, they ultimately reached a consensus that Jayapal, Greene and others will find inconvenient. While originalism is hardly the
legal gold standard that conservative jurists claim, playing by originalist rules, history suggests that Biden is operating within the limits that the Constitution’s framers anticipated — just as President Thomas Jefferson did when he faced an earlier generation of pirates.

During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the framers debated how to allocate military and war powers among the branches of government. Some, like Pierce Butler of South Carolina, thought that power should lie with the president, while most others, including Elbridge Gerry, “never expected to hear in a Republic a motion to empower the Executive alone to declare war.” (Emphasis added.) Reflecting this consensus, James Madison successfully moved to change a draft sentence that empowered Congress to “make” war to language empowering it to “declare” war — the implication being that “the Executive should be able to repel and not commence, war,” in the words of Connecticut delegate Roger Sherman.

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This understanding prevailed in the early years of the new republic. In 1793 President George Washington informed the governor of South Carolina that he intended to launch an “offensive expedition” against the Creek Nation, but only if Congress first determined “that measure to be proper and necessary. The Constitution vests the power of declaring war with Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after [Congress] shall have deliberated on the subject, and authorized such a measure.” Washington chose his words carefully, placing emphasis on “offensive.” Implicit in his formulation was the widely shared belief that a president could undertake a defensive expedition when national security interests demanded it.

Such was the framework that Thomas Jefferson inherited when he became president in 1801.

For years, the Barbary States of North Africa, comprising Morocco, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli, received steady “tributes” — in reality, bribes — from Britain and France to refrain from seizing their ships and crews. It worked well for the great powers, which saw smaller rivals like Denmark or Italian city-states effectively excluded from Mediterranean trade, given their inability to match these tributes. When they were British colonies, the fledgling United States enjoyed the protection of their mother country. But now, as a small, independent nation, the U.S. ran the risk of losing its ships to Barbary pirates, who captured and enslaved U.S. crews throughout the 1780s and 1790s.

Under Washington and his immediate successor, John Adams, the U.S. shifted its policy several times, at one point appropriating $1.25 million annually — roughly one quarter of the national budget — to pay off Barbary pirates, while also authorizing the construction of Naval ships capable of protecting American sailors. Some Republicans (though not Jefferson) looked askance at Federalist proposals to build a standing Navy with new taxes, but both parties generally supported the dual-track approach. Jefferson initially preferred fighting to bribing, but he came to the realization that the new nation simply lacked the resources to arm itself sufficiently and supported negotiated payoffs to secure American shipping rights.

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It was one thing to affirm, as Jefferson did in 1789, that we “have already given in example one effectual check to the Dog of war by transferring the power of letting him loose from the Executive to the Legislative body.” It was another thing to be the executive and to deal with Barbary pirates who were exacting a punishing toll on the United States. As he did so often as president, Jefferson faced the necessity of saying one thing and doing another.

-24 Global News | Latest International Breaking News Today
#History #Bidens #Power #Strike #Houthis

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