Hillary Rodham Clinton hoped to bolster her presidential campaign last week by promising to initiate war against Iran as president if she became convinced it was pursuing nuclear weapons. Speaking at the Brookings Institution on Sept. 9, Mrs. Clinton bugled: “The United States will never allow [Iran] to acquire a nuclear weapon. As president, I will take whatever action is necessary to protect the U.S. and its allies. I will not hesitate to take military action.”
The U.S. Constitution, however, prohibits Mrs. Clinton’s planned offensive use of the military to attack Iran. Only Congress can authorize belligerency. And Article II, section 1 requires the president to take an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, not to sabotage it. Mrs. Clinton is thus unqualified for the office she craves.
At present, nine nations sport nuclear arsenals: North Korea, Pakistan, India, Israel, China, Russia, France, Great Britain, and the United States. Nuclear weapons have been used only twice at Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States. No theory of international law makes the mere possession of nuclear weapons an act of war.
The United States orchestrated the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected and popularly supported Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953 to retaliate against the 1951 nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton championed an unconstitutional presidential war against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 after he abandoned weapons of mass destruction. The war occasioned Gaddafi’s murder and vivisection of Libya into hundreds of tribal, ethnic or sectarian militias and a blossoming of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) there.
Presidential wars are crimes against the Constitution constituting impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors under Article 2, section 4.
The Constitution’s architects entrusted to Congress in Article I, section 8, clause 11 exclusive, non-delegable authority for deciding whether the United States should cross the Rubicon from a state of peace to a state of war.
Mrs. Clinton understood that gospel when a Republican occupied the White House. In 2008, Mrs. Clinton correctly maintained: “[T]he Constitution requires Congress to authorize war. I do not believe that the President can take military action — including any type of strategic bombing — against Iran without congressional authorization.”
Then-presidential candidate Barack Obama agreed: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
Then-Clinton and Obama rival Joe Biden echoed their constitutional condemnations of presidential wars, and assailed them as impeachable offenses. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked Mr. Biden: ”You said that if the President of the United States had launched an attack on Iran without congressional approval that would have been an impeachable offense. Do you want to review that comment you made? Well how do you stand on that now?” Mr. Biden replied: “Yes I do. I want to stand by the comment I made. …[T]he President has no constitutional authority … to take this nation to war against a country of 70 million people unless we’re attacked or unless there is proof we are about to be attacked. And if he does, if he does, I would move to impeach him. The House obviously has to do that but I would lead an effort to impeach him.”
Every participant in the drafting and ratification of the Constitution understood that presidential wars were unconstitutional, including George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and James Wilson
Indeed, the War Powers Clause, calculated to inhibit rather than encourage war, was the cornerstone of liberty. Madison, father of the Constitution, elaborated: “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other … No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America emphasized: “All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it.”
Accordingly, contemporary presidential wars have given birth to extrajudicial killings, torture, indefinite detentions without accusation or trial, routine violations of due process, dragnet domestic surveillance of the entire population, secret government, and executive lawlessness and a culture of untruth and lies with impunity.
Mrs. Clinton has been complicit in these evils by participation in the crucifixion of the Constitution on a cross of Empire.
She deserves political oblivion.