President’s hands must remain tied in Taiwan

As the only House Democrat to vote against the repeal of the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq, Congresswoman Elaine Luria is shown to have an alarming view of authority of the president to wage war independently. More generally, with her career in the United States Navy, her centrist positions on domestic policy, and her unusually hawkish views on foreign policy, Luria reflects the growing tendency of Democratic House candidates with national security backgrounds to stand down. present as national moderates and hawks of foreign policy. In a recent Washington post editorial, Luria takes it for granted that the United States should intervene in the event of a Chinese attack on Taiwan and calls on Congress to “untie” the hands of President Joe Biden to grant him legal permission to do so without consulting Congress. Luria is not the only congressman to have recently supported this idea. Republican lawmakers introduced the Taiwan Invasion Prevention Law, which Luria described as “a good place to start,” which would allow the president to intervene if China attempted to invade Taiwan.

Determining the US response to a possible Chinese attack on Taiwan deserves vigorous debate in Congress, based on a frank assessment of US interests in Taiwan, the prospects for US victory, and the risks of such a war. . Luria’s call to “untie” Biden’s hands would prevent this vital debate from taking place and fail to recognize the very real risks that a war with China would bring. While the defense contractors who are building ships in Luria District and funding her campaign may be content with her reckless and short-sighted proposal, Luria’s colleagues in Congress must reject her and fight instead to recover. their powers of war.

Lessons from the war powers of post 9/11 wars

Frankly speaking, the president’s hands are supposed to be tied in matters of war. Although it is easy to forget due to the abdication by Congress of its war powers over the past two decades, the Constitution and the War Powers Act very clearly requires that the president receive authorization from Congress to carry out military interventions. “Untying” the President’s hands would only further diminish Congress’ most important power by preemptively authorizing war with a nuclear-weapon state on an issue that is peripheral to core US interests. As Biden himself put it in 2001, “Under the Constitution, as well as the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act, the engagement of US forces in the defense of Taiwan is an issue that the president should submit to the American people and Congress “. Biden must have the courage to reaffirm the views he expressed in 2001 and refuse to respond to Luria’s call to make Congress even less involved in decisions about war and peace.

To her credit, Luria acknowledges that “the president has no legal authority, without the express authorization of Congress, to use military force to defend Taiwan.” However, our founders and those who passed the War Powers Resolution in Response to the Vietnam War – a war justified by a Congressional resolution that gave the President sweeping powers similar to those recommended by Luria – did not not the intention that congressional approval serve as a blank check. for hypothetical future wars. Rather, they were aimed at preventing presidents from unilaterally entering reckless wars by requiring Congress to assess the merits of a war and vote on a permit, which cannot be done if Congress allows a war that would be conducted at an unknown time and in an unknown context.

In Luria’s eyes, the constraints that have been very intentionally placed on the presidential war powers are just burdens that can be avoided with legislative tricks. While Luria’s remarkable euphemism to “untie” the president’s hands might seem like a soft proposition, it would amount to giving the president and his successors a stamp of approval to unilaterally get the United States to wage war on Israel. Taiwan.

Luria asserts that “the time for this debate in Congress is now, not when conflict arises”. Politicians could certainly prefer to vote low risk on preemptive clearance without nuclear war looming over their heads. But while this may be politically practical for some, it would ensure that the atrophy of Congressional war powers that characterized the “war on terror” continues in the era of “great power competition.” Moreover, putting the president in the position of having to reject an already approved war permit could, as Biden might put it, “compel” the president to intervene.

By effectively ceding its war powers to the executive over the past two decades and allowing four consecutive presidents to control the world as they please, Congress has encouraged presidents to drag the United States into strategic blunders and enabled leaders to create or escalate humanitarian crises without fear of ever being faced with responsibility. In rushing to carry out interventions based on fragile pretexts in countries like Iraq and Libya, the United States has ignored the unintended consequences that could be caused by American military force. The rapid success of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was followed by widespread sectarian violence, the rise of the Islamic State, a massive increase in Iranian influence in Iraq and 200,000 civilian deaths. Likewise, after President Barack Obama contradicted his own views on presidential war powers and intervened in Libya without Congressional permission, Libya fell into a state of anarchy and civil war that continues today. ‘hui, allowing the establishment of an Islamic State stronghold and fostering the instability that still resonates throughout the region.

Most members of Congress have remained inactive as the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs – initially presented as authorizations for military operations against those responsible for the September 11 attacks and Saddam’s regime – were used to justify operations in the United States. minus seven countries and strikes against terrorist organizations that did not exist even in 2001. As Congressional clearances were stretched beyond recognition to provide legal justification for Obama’s drone warfare, Congress also showed little interest in monitoring the war in Afghanistan. By failing to provide adequate oversight, Congress has become complicit in the lack of a coherent strategy and the corruption that, as US officials privately acknowledged, made the war impossible to win. Additionally, Congressional disinterest in surveillance helped the war drift away from the political debate and the minds of the American people, allowing the doomed and costly effort to drag on for years to come.

After paying little attention to the war while it was being waged, members of Congress suddenly became interested in surveillance now that the Afghan state of Potemkin has fallen, transforming the opportunity to ask tough questions of leaders. involved in the $ 2 trillion debacle in a political chance to score. While it may have been more subtle than recent postings during Congressional hearings, Luria’s heavily publicized editorial was aimed at educating readers about the importance of standing up for Taiwan – a position less than half of Americans support – or an attempt to bolster his credentials like a hawk?

Most members of Congress seemed to believe their job was done once they voted for the AUMF in the early 2000s. The only problem was that the AUMF made their own decisions once they were provided to the government. president and were used to justify military operations Congress could not even have imagined when they voted for them. When considering preemptive clearance for Taiwan, lawmakers should consider that the 2001 AUMF continues to be distorted to justify military action around the world. While the potential risks of a war on Taiwan may be different from those that have arisen from the post-9/11 wars, the proud US failures in the Middle East should make leaders think deeply about the implications of a conflict. with China. Congress cannot be allowed to shirk its responsibility to vigorously debate the possibility of going to war in defense of Taiwan by voting to authorize a future war when a Chinese invasion is not imminent.

The problems of a pre-authorization for war

Aside from the merits and feasibility of US intervention to repel a Chinese invasion, there is a glaring flaw in Luria’s argument. Luria asserts that “waiting for congressional approval until China acts would likely cause an insurmountable delay in responding to hostile action by China to take Taiwan militarily.” However, since China cannot just snap its fingers and stage an invasion overnight, the United States would almost certainly have intelligence indicating that China was preparing for an invasion, giving the president ample time to consult with Congress. as it is required to do. While Luria fears that the “harsh limits” of the Constitution and the War Powers Act will cause “insurmountable delay”, allowing a war to be fought under unknown circumstances in the future is an incredibly reckless proposition. By changing the status quo and signaling the possibility of a change in the “strategic ambiguity” approach that successfully deterred a Chinese invasion for four decades, the United States could unnecessarily provoke China and ultimately return an invasion. Chinese more likely. Luria’s proposal would solve non-existent problems while potentially increasing the likelihood of war between two nuclear-weapon states.


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