Monday, October 31, 2005

Good Question... Great Answer

When I was at West Point, General Andrew Bacevich was just coming in to join the Academy administration. Since then I've seen and read some of his writing and know that he's socially quite conservative - as you'd expect from a high ranking officer in the modern Army. With that foreknowledge and the following question below the headline in his article in today's NYT, I thought I knew what to expect.

In a post-9/11 world, what limits — if any — exist on the president's authority to use force?
I was wrong.

Make sure to read the whole opinion piece, it is, of course, well informed but also surprising considering its author's C.V. But the ultimate paragraph is what made my chest swell with pride at having known and served with this man, a fellow West Point graduate, a fellow traveller in "The Long Grey Line."

In the interests of national security today, we should curb presidential war-making powers. A hitherto compliant Congress must reclaim the institutional authority conferred upon it by the Constitution. When it comes to wars, the first responsibility of the legislative branch is not to support the commander in chief. It is to exercise independent judgment, an obligation that transcends party. Members of Congress who lack the wit or the moral courage to fulfill this obligation ought to be held accountable by voters.
He may be on the opposite side of the widening divide between Left and Right, but Andy Bacevich understands the dangers of the way we do the nation's business today.

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