The Phony Arguments for Presidential War Powers

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The Phony Arguments for Presidential War Powers

Post by swiftfoxmark2 on Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:49 am

The Phony Arguments for Presidential War Powers
by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

A U.S. president has attacked another country, so it’s time for the scam artists to pull out their fake constitutional arguments in support of our dear leader. Not all of them are doing so, to be sure – in fact, it’s been rather a hoot to hear supporters of the Iraq war suddenly caterwauling about the Constitution’s restraints on the power of the president to initiate hostilities abroad. But I’m told that radio host Mark Levin criticized Ron Paul on his program the other day on the precise grounds that the congressman didn’t know what he was talking about when it came to war powers and the Constitution.

That means it’s time to lay out all the common claims, both constitutional and historical, advanced on behalf of presidential war powers, and refute them one by one.

“The president has the power to initiate hostilities without consulting Congress.”

Ever since the Korean War, Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution – which refers to the president as the “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States” – has been interpreted this way.

But what the framers actually meant by that clause was that once war has been declared, it was the President’s responsibility as commander-in-chief to direct the war. Alexander Hamilton spoke in such terms when he said that the president, although lacking the power to declare war, would have “the direction of war when authorized or begun.” The president acting alone was authorized only to repel sudden attacks (hence the decision to withhold from him only the power to “declare” war, not to “make” war, which was thought to be a necessary emergency power in case of foreign attack).

The Framers assigned to Congress what David Gray Adler has called “senior status in a partnership with the president for the purpose of conducting foreign policy.” Congress possesses the power “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations,” “to raise and support Armies,” to “grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal,” to “provide for the common Defense,” and even “to declare War.” Congress shares with the president the power to make treaties and to appoint ambassadors. As for the president himself, he is assigned only two powers relating to foreign affairs: he is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and he has the power to receive ambassadors.

At the Constitutional Convention, the delegates expressly disclaimed any intention to model the American executive exactly after the British monarchy. James Wilson, for example, remarked that the powers of the British king did not constitute “a proper guide in defining the executive powers. Some of these prerogatives were of a Legislative nature. Among others that of war & peace.” Edmund Randolph likewise contended that the delegates had “no motive to be governed by the British Government as our prototype.”

To repose such foreign-policy authority in the legislative rather than the executive branch of government was a deliberate and dramatic break with the British model of government with which they were most familiar, as well as with that of other nations, where the executive branch (in effect, the monarch) possessed all such rights, including the exclusive right to declare war. The Framers of the Constitution believed that history testified to the executive’s penchant for war. As James Madison wrote to Thomas Jefferson, “The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the Legislature.” Madison even proposed excluding the president from the negotiation of peace treaties, on the grounds that he might obstruct a settlement out of a desire to derive “power and importance from a state of war.”

At the Constitutional Convention, Pierce Butler “was for vesting the power in the President, who will have all the requisite qualities, and will not make war but when the nation will support it.” Butler’s motion did not receive so much as a second.

James Wilson assured the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention, “This system will not hurry us into war; it is calculated to guard against it. It will not be in the power of a single man, or a single body of men, to involve us in such distress; for the important power of declaring war is vested in the legislature at large: this declaration must be made with the concurrence of the House of Representatives: from this circumstance we may draw a certain conclusion that nothing but our interest can draw us into war.”

In Federalist #69, Alexander Hamilton explained that the president’s authority “would be nominally the same with that of the King of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first general and admiral of the confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war, and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies; all which by the constitution under consideration would appertain to the Legislature.”

According to John Bassett Moore, the great authority on international law who (among other credentials) occupied the first professorship of international law at Columbia University, “There can hardly be room for doubt that the framers of the constitution, when they vested in Congress the power to declare war, never imagined that they were leaving it to the executive to use the military and naval forces of the United States all over the world for the purpose of actually coercing other nations, occupying their territory, and killing their soldiers and citizens, all according to his own notions of the fitness of things, as long as he refrained from calling his action war or persisted in calling it peace.”

In conformity with this understanding, George Washington’s operations on his own authority against the Indians were confined to defensive measures, conscious as he was that the approval of Congress would be necessary for anything further. “The Constitution vests the power of declaring war with Congress,” he said, “therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they have deliberated upon the subject, and authorized such a measure.”

“John Adams made war on France without consulting Congress.”

Supporters of a broad executive war power have sometimes appealed to the Quasi War with France, in the closing years of the eighteenth century, as an example of unilateral warmaking on the part of the president. Francis Wormuth, an authority on war powers and the Constitution, describes that contention as “altogether false.” John Adams “took absolutely no independent action. Congress passed a series of acts that amounted, so the Supreme Court said, to a declaration of imperfect war; and Adams complied with these statutes.” (Wormuth’s reference to the Supreme Court recalls a decision rendered in the wake of the Quasi War, in which the Court ruled that Congress could either declare war or approve hostilities by means of statutes that authorized an undeclared war. The Quasi War was an example of the latter case.)

An incident that occurred during the Quasi War throws further light on the true extent of presidential war powers. Congress authorized the president to seize vessels sailing to French ports. But President Adams, acting on his own authority and without the sanction of Congress, instructed American ships to capture vessels sailing either to or from French ports. Captain George Little, acting under the authority of Adams’ order, seized a Danish ship sailing from a French port. When Little was sued for damages, the case made its way to the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that Captain Little could indeed be sued for damages in the case. “In short,” writes war powers expert Louis Fisher in summary, “congressional policy announced in a statute necessarily prevails over inconsistent presidential orders and military actions. Presidential orders, even those issued as Commander in Chief, are subject to restrictions imposed by Congress.”

“Jefferson acted unilaterally against the Barbary pirates.”

Another incident frequently cited on behalf of a general presidential power to deploy American forces and commence hostilities involves Jefferson’s policy toward the Barbary states, which demanded protection money from governments whose ships sailed the Mediterranean. Immediately prior to Jefferson’s inauguration in 1801, Congress passed naval legislation that, among other things, provided for six frigates that “shall be officered and manned as the President of the United States may direct.” It was to this instruction and authority that Jefferson appealed when he ordered American ships to the Mediterranean. In the event of a declaration of war on the United States by the Barbary powers, these ships were to “protect our commerce & chastise their insolence – by sinking, burning or destroying their ships & Vessels wherever you shall find them.”

In late 1801, the pasha of Tripoli did declare war on the U.S. Jefferson sent a small force to the area to protect American ships and citizens against potential aggression, but insisted that he was “unauthorized by the Constitution, without the sanction of Congress, to go beyond the line of defense”; Congress alone could authorize “measures of offense also.” Thus Jefferson told Congress: “I communicate [to you] all material information on this subject, that in the exercise of this important function confided by the Constitution to the Legislature exclusively their judgment may form itself on a knowledge and consideration of every circumstance of weight.”

Jefferson consistently deferred to Congress in his dealings with the Barbary pirates. “Recent studies by the Justice Department and statements made during congressional debate,” Louis Fisher writes, “imply that Jefferson took military measures against the Barbary powers without seeking the approval or authority of Congress. In fact, in at least ten statutes, Congress explicitly authorized military action by Presidents Jefferson and Madison. Congress passed legislation in 1802 to authorize the President to equip armed vessels to protect commerce and seamen in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and adjoining seas. The statute authorized American ships to seize vessels belonging to the Bey of Tripoli, with the captured property distributed to those who brought the vessels into port. Additional legislation in 1804 gave explicit support for ‘warlike operations against the regency of Tripoli, or any other of the Barbary powers.’”

Consider also Jefferson’s statement to Congress in late 1805 regarding a boundary dispute with Spain over Louisiana and Florida. According to Jefferson, Spain appeared to have an “intention to advance on our possessions until they shall be repressed by an opposing force. Considering that Congress alone is constitutionally invested with the power of changing our condition from peace to war, I have thought it my duty to await their authority for using force…. But the course to be pursued will require the command of means which it belongs to Congress exclusively to yield or to deny. To them I communicate every fact material for their information and the documents necessary to enable them to judge for themselves. To their wisdom, then, I look for the course I am to pursue, and will pursue with sincere zeal that which they shall approve.”

“Presidents have sent men into battle hundreds of times without getting congressional authorization.”

This argument, like so much propaganda, originated with the U.S. government itself. At the time of the Korean War, a number of congressmen contended that “history will show that on more than 100 occasions in the life of this Republic the President as Commander in Chief has ordered the fleet or the troops to do certain things which involved the risk of war” without the consent of Congress. In 1966, in defense of the Vietnam War, the State Department adopted a similar line: “Since the Constitution was adopted there have been at least 125 instances in which the President has ordered the armed forces to take action or maintain positions abroad without obtaining prior congressional authorization, starting with the ‘undeclared war’ with France (1798-1800).”

We have already seen that the war with France in no way lends support to those who favor broad presidential war powers. As for the rest, the great presidential scholar Edward S. Corwin pointed out that this lengthy list of alleged precedents consisted mainly of “fights with pirates, landings of small naval contingents on barbarous or semi-barbarous coasts, the dispatch of small bodies of troops to chase bandits or cattle rustlers across the Mexican border, and the like.”

To support their position, therefore, the neoconservatives and their left-liberal clones are counting chases of cattle rustlers as examples of presidential warmaking, and as precedents for sending millions of Americans into war with foreign governments on the other side of the globe.

“The War Powers Resolution of 1973 gives the president the power to commit troops anywhere he likes for 90 days.”

Which is why it’s manifestly unconstitutional. I’ve written on this elsewhere.

“If the United Nations authorizes military action, the president does not need to consult Congress.”

The UN Charter itself notes that the Security Council’s commitment of member nations’ troops must be authorized by these nations’ “respective constitutional processes.” The Congressional Research Service’s Louis Fisher explains further: “Assured by Truman that he understood and respected the war prerogatives of Congress, the Senate ratified the UN Charter. Article 43 provided that all UN members shall make available to the Security Council, in accordance with special agreements, armed forces and other assistance. Each nation would ratify those agreements ‘in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.’ It then became the obligation of Congress to pass legislation to define the constitutional processes of the United States. Section 6 of the UN Participation Act of 1945 states with singular clarity that the special agreements ‘shall be subject to the approval of the Congress by appropriate Act or joint resolution.’ The procedure was specific and clear. Both branches knew what the Constitution required. The President would first have to obtain the approval of Congress.”

The UN Participation Act’s provisions regarding military action and the president have often been misread, thanks to a qualification in Article 6. But that qualification simply means that once the president has obtained congressional approval for a special agreement with the UN Security Council to make American forces available to the UN, he does not need congressional approval a second time to implement that agreement.

Fisher elaborates on the UN Participation Act of 1945 here. (See especially pp. 1249-1250.)

The remaining claims, somewhat more technical in nature, have been put forth most memorably by John Yoo, former deputy assistant attorney general under George W. Bush. These are paraphrases of Yoo’s positions. They are replied to in much more detail in Who Killed the Constitution? by the present author and Kevin Gutzman.

“In the eighteenth century, a ‘declaration of war’ was a merely rhetorical and communicative act – a ‘courtesy to the enemy’ – and did not involve the initiation or authorization of hostilities. Thus in granting Congress the power to declare war, the Constitution had merely given it the power to communicate to an enemy people (as well as to neutrals and to the country’s own citizens that a state of war existed; the president, on the other hand, retained the power actually to bring the United States into war by commencing military action.”


This is partly correct. In the eighteenth century a “declaration of war” could indeed have this lesser meaning. But a review of eighteenth-century usage reveals that to “declare war” could also mean actually to begin a war.

Consider also that as the Constitution was being debated, Federalists sought to reassure skeptical anti-Federalists that the president’s powers were not so expansive after all. For one thing, the Federalists said, the president lacked the power to declare war. In order for their argument to carry any weight, “declare war” must have been taken to mean the power to initiate hostilities – for no anti-Federalist would have been appeased by “Sure, the president can take the country to war on his own initiative, but the power to draft declaratory statements will rest with Congress!”

If Yoo’s argument were correct, we should expect to see presidents in the years immediately following ratification of the Constitution taking bold military action without concerning themselves much about the will of Congress, which according to Yoo had only the power to issue declaratory statements. But as we have seen in the examples of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, the opposite was in fact the case; these early presidents were careful to defer to Congress.

“Congress may have some power over major wars, but lesser uses of force are reserved to the president alone.”

The evidence from the early republic contradicts this claim. Supreme Court justice Samuel Chase summed up the reigning doctrine in 1800: “Congress is empowered to declare a general war, or congress may wage a limited war; limited in place, in objects and in time.” The 1804 case of Little v. Barreme involved a ship commander who, during the Quasi War with France in the late 1790s, had seized a ship that he thought was illegally trading with France. The commander was following a directive from President John Adams in seizing this ship, which had been coming from France. But Congress had authorized President Adams only to seize ships going to France; in short, the president’s directive ventured beyond what congress had called for in this limited war. In a unanimous decision, the Court declared that the commander was liable for damages even though he had acted in accordance with a presidential directive. No such presidential directive could override the authority of congress, said the Court.

“The Vesting Clause grants the president a wide array of unspecified powers pertaining to foreign affairs.”

You won’t hear this argument in many casual discussions of presidential war powers, but since Yoo cited it in a draft memorandum he wrote for the Department of Defense in early 2002, it’s worth a brief reply. (Again, a lengthier reply can be found in Who Killed the Constitution?)

The Vesting Clause can be found in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution; “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” According to this view, the Vesting Clause bestows on the president a host of unspecified powers in addition to the specific ones listed in the rest of Article II. The Framers of the Constitution, they say, thereby showed that they wanted the president to exercise all powers that would have been recognized in the eighteenth century as being fundamentally executive in nature, even if those powers are not actually mentioned in the Constitution. Congress, on the other hand, is assigned no such open-ended authority but is instead limited by the Constitution to all “legislative Powers herein granted,” a reference to the specific list of powers that then follows. The conclusion: the president may rightly exercise all powers relating to foreign affairs (since such powers are by their nature executive) except those specifically assigned to Congress.

Unfortunately for Yoo, he will not find any support for his views on executive power and the Vesting Clause in the state constitutions drawn up after 1776, in the Federalist, or in the state ratification debates. Nowhere in the state constitutions do we see any indication of an intent to vest the executive with an array of unspecified powers beyond those that were expressly mentioned. In Federalist #69, Alexander Hamilton argued that the American president would be much weaker than the British king, and cited the specific list of powers the Constitution grants the president. That argument would have been absurd and dishonest if the Vesting Clause had given the president an additional reservoir of powers beyond those Hamilton catalogued. Curtis Bradley and Martin Flaherty, writing in the Michigan Law Review, conclude that “in the thousands of pages recording these debates the argument that the Vesting Clause grants the president a general foreign affairs power simply does not appear.”

In short, there is no constitutional support for the presidential war powers claimed by mainstream left and right. That’s why they usually wind up claiming that the congressional power to declare war is “obsolete.” They can’t deny its existence, so they deny the document in which it is contained. And that means they lose the argument.
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Re: The Phony Arguments for Presidential War Powers

Post by dsmbaptist on Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:04 am

You and I must be on the same wave lenght...I was going to be daring (Or stupid?) and post that on that other forum that shall not be mentioned.

Pftt! Screw them! Mama always said that you can't argue with those that you have to first educate. They don't wanna be educated!


And what was that bit about Christ saying that bit about "casting your pearls before swine"??? scratch
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Re: The Phony Arguments for Presidential War Powers

Post by dsmbaptist on Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:00 am

Tom Woods.com
RedState.com links to Mark Levin’s hilarious evasion, says nothing about my challenge to him or my response to his total failure to answer me, and claims Levin is the winner when it comes to presidential war powers. Levin was beaten so badly in this exchange that he refuses to debate me or even to allow friendly criticism of his position on his Facebook page. But for RedState.com, this is victory!

Is the whole mainstream Right really this Orwellian? I knew it was bad, but this is pretty bad.

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Re: The Phony Arguments for Presidential War Powers

Post by dsmbaptist on Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:03 am

Lew Rockwell.com
My Challenge to Mark Levin
by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

Recently by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: The Phony Arguments for Presidential War Powers





Last week I posted "The Phony Case for Presidential War Powers," an essay that examines and then refutes all the major claims advanced on behalf of the US president’s alleged right to commit troops to battle without congressional authorization. Shortly thereafter, radio host Mark Levin launched into an attack on Congressman Ron Paul’s views – identical to mine, as far as I can see – on presidential war powers. (On FOX Business he referred to Congressman Paul as "Ron Paul," an example of disrespect the gentlemanly and civilized Dr. Paul would never even consider returning in kind.) I in turn replied to Levin.

To my surprise, Levin replied to me – sort of. Read through the links above if you are so inclined and then see Levin’s response. Notice something? He refutes nothing I said, and then declares himself the winner. Nice.

I see nothing in what Levin thinks is a reply that should make any of his supporters proud, or that should cause me to abandon my constitutional views. I am accused of misusing the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist, etc., but Levin does not condescend to share any specific examples of this alleged misuse. We are to be satisfied with his ex cathedra pronouncements alone.


Nowhere does he address my refutations of his arguments, whether regarding the real eighteenth-century meaning of "declaration of war," the intentions of the Framers, or the cases of unilateral presidential warmaking Levin wants to cite that I have shown were nothing of the kind.

And no wonder: there is no evidence for his position at all. People coming to a discussion of war powers and the Constitution for the first time may assume, understandably, that Levin can probably cite some sources, I can cite some sources, and the whole thing is probably a stalemate. But Levin can cite nothing.


Wait, I take that back. He can cite Pierce Butler’s view at the Constitutional Convention in support of "vesting the power in the President, who will have all the requisite qualities, and will not make war but when the nation will support it." Unfortunately for Levin, Butler’s motion did not even receive a second.

The very fact that Levin thinks this issue is even debatable, in light of how abundant are the citations against his made-up position, indicates how far in over his head he is. He has evidently read John Yoo (whose positions Kevin Gutzman and I dismantled in our book Who Killed the Constitution?) and little else.

Now it’s true that Levin cites unnamed "scholarly links" that support his position, though he does not share them with me. Were my position so easily refuted, you’d think he’d just go ahead and do it, instead of handing me an unspecified reading assignment.

But you know what? To heck with the scholarly links. They’re probably to John Yoo, whose work on war powers is of exactly zero value. Then I’ll link to the work of Louis Fisher, and Levin will dismiss him, and we will have made no progress.


So forget the secondary sources. Let’s get to the primary sources. Mark Levin, here is my challenge to you. I want you to find me one Federalist, during the entire period in which the Constitution was pending, who argued that the president could launch non-defensive wars without consulting Congress. To make it easy on you, you may cite any Federalist speaking in any of the ratification conventions in any of the states, or in a public lecture, or in a newspaper article – whatever. One Federalist who took your position. I want his name and the exact quotation.

If I’m so wrong, this challenge should be a breeze. If you evade this challenge, or call me names, or make peripheral arguments instead, I will take that as an admission of defeat.

To be sure, Levin could claim that the fact that many presidents have ignored the Constitution amounts to an implicit amendment of the Constitution, but I doubt that kind of left-wing argument is one a self-proclaimed "originalist" should be eager to embrace.

Incidentally, I was amused to see, in the comments section beneath Levin’s piece, several of Levin’s followers assume I must be a "liberal revisionist" historian because I hold the constitutional view of presidential war powers. The traditional conservative position, as Russell Kirk and others made clear, recoiled at a strong and independent executive, a fact that years of neoconservative reeducation of the masses has done much to obscure. I suppose Senator Robert Taft, known in his day as "Mr. Republican," was likewise a "liberal revisionist" for making, in 1950, the very same arguments I am advancing against Levin today?

In fact, when Taft denied that Harry Truman could commit troops to Korea without congressional authorization, his major intellectual opponents were left-liberal historians Henry Steele Commager and Arthur Schlesinger. Levin listeners, this is the side your host has placed you on: against the Senate’s great twentieth-century conservative, and in support of the left-liberal historians who hated him. But here’s the difference between them and Levin: years later they had the decency to admit they had been wrong on the facts, and that Taft had been right.

Levin says he is "embarrassed" for me, so transparently have I allegedly prostituted my historical scholarship on behalf of my political ideology. He must have an acute sense of embarrassment indeed, since it appears to paralyze his ability to respond with specifics when his position is completely destroyed. And indeed so non-embarrassed am I that I heartily encourage all the world to read all the original sources, mine and his, linked at the beginning of this essay.

Perish the thought, but could it be that it is Levin, who supports the bipartisan foreign-policy consensus with such gusto, who has cherry-picked evidence from the historical record to suit his political position? That could be, but I doubt it. For that to be the case, there would have to be some evidence in the historical record to cherry-pick for his position in the first place.

March 28, 2011

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. [send him mail; visit his website], a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, is the author of eleven books, most recently Rollback: Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse and Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century, as well as the New York Times bestsellers Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse and The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. He is also the editor of five other books, including the just-released Back on the Road to Serfdom.

Copyright © 2011 Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

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Re: The Phony Arguments for Presidential War Powers

Post by dsmbaptist on Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:08 am

"How I Sent Mark Levin Home Crying" By Tom Woods, Jr.

March 28, 2011
How I Sent Mark Levin Home Crying
Posted by Thomas Woods on March 28, 2011 08:46 AM
So Mark Levin has responded to my challenge today. Did he find a Federalist who agrees with him that a president can launch a non-defensive war without consulting congress? I was a real sport — I let him look through the ratifying conventions of every single state, and I also let him cite public lectures or newspaper articles. Really anything at all. Did he find someone, anyone?

Of course not. Instead, he pretends I am too stupid to understand his position: “I’ve explained my position on radio, on Fox, and on this site. I think it is extremely wise for a president to consult with Congress (well, not all 535 members but members in leadership positions) before launching non-defensive military actions for both policy and political reasons. In fact, most presidents claim to have done so in one form or another respecting most military operations. I cannot imagine any Federalist would have argued against a president consulting with Congress.”

And I’m the one changing the subject? This is beyond belief.

Mark, the point is not and has never been whether it is wise for the president to consult Congress. The point is whether he is allowed to conduct offensive operations without consulting them. That is your position.

And I have shown that there is zero — ZERO — evidence that the Constitution allows this. Levin’s ham-handed evasion of my challenge has only amplified my point. I am changing the subject, he says. Well, let’s let the whole world look at what we’ve written — all of which I link to in my piece today — and they may decide for themselves who is addressing the issue and who is running away from it. Levin’s position is that the president may launch offensive operations without consulting Congress. I deny that this was any part of the original constitutional intent. That is the entirety of the disagreement between us. Whether it would be nice for the president to consult Congress, whether it’s practical for him to do so, etc., are entirely irrelevant to a discussion of this specific issue. Those are forms of evasion, as even Levin’s own followers are capable of seeing.

I have already made clear that the president has the constitutional authority to engage in purely defensive measures. That’s what George Washington said he was doing against the Indians. But when the issue of offensive operations against the Indians came up, he said he would have to consult Congress for that. Not too confusing.

Mark has no time for further exchanges — he is Mark Levin, remember — but he did have time, to show how unreliable I allegedly am, to dig up an article from six years ago by Marxist-turned-social-democrat Ronald Radosh. Radosh didn’t like my Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, though I’m hardly surprised; most neocons, for all their talk, have a pretty conventional view of American history, and my book was much too politically incorrect for them. I dealt with my critics on that long ago (see “replies to critics”). At the top of my website one can find a rotating series of endorsements of my work from periodicals like the Journal of American History, the American Historical Review, Choice (the review publication for academic libraries), and others, any one of whose opinions is worth a teensy bit more than that of Ronald Radosh, whoever he is.

One gentleman asked, without any invective or disrespect, if Levin would be willing to debate me, perhaps at the Reagan Library in California. That gentleman was simply deleted from Levin’s Facebook page.

I win.
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Re: The Phony Arguments for Presidential War Powers

Post by dsmbaptist on Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:12 am



Tom Woods Smacks Down Mark Levin on War Powers | Print | E-mail
Written by Thomas R. Eddlem
Monday, 28 March 2011 17:14
1Professor Thomas E. Woods (pictured, left), Jr. has taken syndicated radio talk show host Mark Levin (picture inset) to task for claiming the President can constitutionally bring the nation to war without the permission of Congress.

Woods argued that Congress has the exclusive power under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution to declare war and to make rules for the military. Levin contended that Woods' argument was "utter nonsense." "He refutes nothing I said," Woods concluded in a March 28 column on LewRockwell.com, "and then declares himself the winner."
The Internet exchange began after Levin, a lawyer and former Justice Department official, assailed Representative Ron Paul for his antiwar stance on the U.S. attack on Libya on his radio show March 25:

I want to repeat this for those out there who write stupid stuff and are a little dense because they’re advancing a dogma rather than an honest assessment of what our history is. You can see some of these morons on television too. The language was originally “Congress shall make war.” The framers rejected that. And instead replaced “make” with “declare.” The president of the United States, well, they made him the commander-in-chief. Now why do you think they did those two things? Out of basic logic. They knew it was a dangerous world — hell they’ve been in a revolution. And by the way, after the revolution and establishment of our government it wasn’t clear still that it would survive given all the threats that we faced.

Levin went on to claim that the President can bring the United States government to war without the permission of Congress, adding that Congress' power over the purse was a sufficient check to presidential war-making. Levin argued: “And as Hamilton pointed out, it’s the ultimate power — the power of the purse.” Woods replied:

Here Levin is trying to claim that the power of Congress over warmaking is confined to the power to de-fund presidential wars. But as long as Levin wants to quote Hamilton, let’s quote Hamilton, from Federalist #69:

“The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies — all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature.”

Hamilton elsewhere says that the president’s war powers consist of “the direction of war when authorized or begun.”

Well, that’s pretty much the opposite of Levin’s view.

In response, Levin published several tweets and Facebook status remarks quoting Alexander Hamilton vaguely referring to the President as the body in charge of actually waging war once Congress declares the war, such as this quote from Federalist #74:

Alexander Hamilton: "Energy in the executive is a leading character in the definition of good government.... It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks."

Levin also published a longer Facebook note claiming that Professor Woods was "cutting and pasting history for a dogma." He wrote:

I'm embarrassed for Woods. He knows I know he's a propagandist on this issue. His misuse of the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist Papers, and other quotes here and there is politically expedient. There's nothing scholarly about it....

History, facts, experience, and events prove the Left [right] and Paulists wrong, like Woods, but they are true believers so it doesn't matter. Woods would fundamentally alter our constitutional construct respecting war, the executive, and legislative functions, fabricating additional power in Congress — even authorizing one House of Congress under the War Powers Act to ensure defeat on the battlefield if the battle is not completed in 90 days through a silent veto — while denuding the commander-in-chief power. Is that what they said at the Constitutional Convention? Is that supported anywhere in our history? Is that how Congress is to legislate under the Constitutio? Utter nonsense.

Levin's response was remarkable in one respect: He failed to cite any language in the Constitution to support his case that the President can make war, and failed to cite any federalist supporter of the U.S. Constitution or any Founding Father who argued the President had the ability to initiate war without the permission of Congress. Woods replied on March 28:

I am accused of misusing the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist, etc., but Levin does not condescend to share any specific examples of this alleged misuse. We are to be satisfied with his ex cathedra pronouncements alone.... And no wonder: there is no evidence for his position at all.

Woods concluded with a challenge to Levin:

Here is my challenge to you. I want you to find me one Federalist, during the entire period in which the Constitution was pending, who argued that the president could launch non-defensive wars without consulting Congress. To make it easy on you, you may cite any Federalist speaking in any of the ratification conventions in any of the states, or in a public lecture, or in a newspaper article — whatever. One Federalist who took your position. I want his name and the exact quotation.

It's likely that Levin will reply, though he'll be unable to quote any Founding Father who supported presidential war powers. There is none. Based upon the tenor of Levin's radio talk show, the response to Woods' challenge will be abuse rather than genuine argument.

Woods has reportedly said he's willing to debate Levin. But one has to wonder why Levin would ever accept a debate he can't win.


Tom Woods Smacks Down Mark Levin on War Powers--The New American
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Re: The Phony Arguments for Presidential War Powers

Post by swiftfoxmark2 on Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:47 am

You know, I like Mark Levin overall. He is one of the more sane conservative pundits on the radio mostly because he doesn't carry water for the Republicans. On many occasions, he has lambasted them for their inept handling of important issues that we voted them in for. He has stated that he would vote third party or start his own party if things don't shape up. He probably only voted for McCain based solely on Sarah Palin as he stated that he wouldn't vote for McCain unless he makes a good VP pick.

And yet we find him making stupid, irrational, liberal-like arguments for Presidential war powers. Why is it so hard to admit the truth sometimes? The truth for Levin is either he is wrong about what he said or he simply is injecting his own political rhetoric and basing it on faux constitutional justifications.

Either way, he's come out of this looking like a putz from where I stand.

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Re: The Phony Arguments for Presidential War Powers

Post by dsmbaptist on Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:54 am

Oh look!

AS Tom posted on his Facebook page.....

Mark Levin is scared to debate Tom Woods
...There is a "Mark Levin is scared to debate Tom Woods" page!!! Razz
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Re: The Phony Arguments for Presidential War Powers

Post by dsmbaptist on Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:50 am

Tom Woods: "Find Me ONE Federalist who said President would have the Power to Launch Non-Defensive Wars."

STUDIO-D - Dr. Tom Woods responds to the ad hominem attacks levied against him over the controversy surrounding the Constitutional ability or lack thereof for a President to wage "offensive" war without receiving a proper Declaration for such from the Congress. The issue became a point of derision for radio host and former Reagan cabinet adviser Mark Levin who pointed to previous instances of the Executive branch waging undeclared wars as justification and labeled Dr. Woods a "propagandist" and an "outlier professor" for whom he [Levin] was embarrassed. The issue continued to heat up this past weekend across multiple social-networking websites including Facebook and Twitter, with a flurry of comments and other Facebook users urging Mark Levin to debate Dr. Woods in order to settle the matter.

The KingDude & Dr. Woods walked the audience through the entire episode and conducted a 2 man clinic on the Original Intent of the Constitution's Framers for our foreign policy. Dr. Woods punctuated the interview with insight from America's founding father of modern "conservatism" Russell Kirk and then finished off what many have called "a smack-down" of the war powers argument by wondering what today's DeceptiCONS would think of "Mr. Republican Senator Robert Taft who had admonished Harry Truman for beginning this unconstitutional empire building by invading Korea.

"I have a challenge for Mr. Levin's follower's, by all means, please read Mark Levin's book 'Liberty & Tyranny' THEN please read Congressman Ron Paul's book 'Revolution: a manifesto' and draw your own conclusions about which side of "conservatism" you want to stand on."

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Re: The Phony Arguments for Presidential War Powers

Post by dsmbaptist on Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:53 am

Oh yeah...I said THIS on Tom Wood's FB page today:

Michael Meyer "I see...you know that you are losing an argument, so you start with the personal attacks...I see how your mind works, Mark Levin"!
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Re: The Phony Arguments for Presidential War Powers

Post by dsmbaptist on Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:11 am

Michael Meyer By the way, I listened to Tom's interview on Mike Church today, and when Levin and hacks like somebody that I know from www.covertconservatives.com refers to Ron Paul as "Ron Paul" and those of us who believe that 911 was an inside job as "Toother's (Come on guys, learn how to spell, dammit!!) and other sophomoric derogatory names---Levin and those neocon jerks on that forum that I mentioned have already lost the argument!
3 minutes ago ·

By the way...that reference to Overt Republicans...I mean, Covert Conservatives was an indirect reference to that revisionist arse wipe, Solo! Twisted Evil
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Re: The Phony Arguments for Presidential War Powers

Post by swiftfoxmark2 on Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:16 am

Yeah, Solo was a clear idiot and a hack. Insults are best used when they are first used against you. Before that, there is always room for debate and disagreement.

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