Topic: Mario Cuomo
response to Mario Cuomo column
The first war fought under the current Constitution was fought during the administration of John Adams on the strength of a naval appropriation after Congress voted against a declaration of war. It wasn't a very big war under today's standards, but the war with France was significant for the young republic.
Cuomo claims he wants to reduce the power of the president, but his approach would substantially reduce the nation's flexibility in dealing with foreign threats. He believes the nation should take an all or nothing approach either a declaration of war with the associated restrictions on civil liberties or no action at all. Among other things a declaration of war by Congress means that those who criticize the war may be punished for treason. Such restrictions on free speech are not possible without a formal declaration. A declaration of war would legitimize military tribunals for those accused of being enemies and potentially prevented the courts from intervening. The Constitution explicitly authorizes suspension of habeas corpus during war and insurrection.
A declaration of war also can have significant international repercussions. In some situations a declaration of war by the U.S. could force other nations to enter a conflict against the U.S. or cause other diplomatic repercussions.
Any declaration of war would have been against the government of Iraq which has already been destroyed. The current situation in Iraq is not a war against anyone except as to the extent it is a part of the war against terror. Who would the United States declare war against in such a situation? Wars are declared against other nations not against international "criminal" organizations like al Qaeda.
I realize Democrats cannot understand the idea of responsibility. We did eliminate the government of Iraq and should feel that we should help the Iraqis establish a new government no matter how long it takes. Democrats once understood that concept. President Harry Truman even took on the task of helping all Europeans, including our former enemies, recover from World War II.