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1999 Ron Paul Chapter 20

War Powers Resolution

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17 March 1999


The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. PEASE). Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. PAUL) is recognized for 5 minutes.

1999 Ron Paul 20:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, last week the House narrowly passed a watered-down House concurrent resolution originally designed to endorse President Clinton’s plan to send U.S. troops to Kosovo. A House concurrent resolution, whether strong or weak, has no effect of law. It is merely a sense of Congress statement.

1999 Ron Paul 20:2
If last week’s meager debate and vote are construed as merely an endorsement, without dissent, of Clinton’s policy in Yugoslavia, the procedure will prove a net negative. It will not be seen as a Congressional challenge to unconstitutional presidential war power. If, however, the debate is interpreted as a serious effort to start the process to restore Congressional prerogatives, it may yet be seen as a small step in the right direction. We cannot know with certainty which it will be. That will depend on what Congress does in the future.

1999 Ron Paul 20:3
Presently, those of us who argued for Congressional responsibility with regards to declaring war and deploying troops cannot be satisfied that the trend of the last 50 years has been reversed. Since World War II, the war power has fallen into the hands of our presidents, with Congress doing little to insist on its own constitutional responsibility. From Korea and Vietnam, to Bosnia and Kosovo, we have permitted our presidents to “wag the Congress,” generating a perception that the United States can and should police the world. Instead of authority to move troops and fight wars coming from the people through a vote of their Congressional representatives, we now permit our presidents to cite NATO declarations and U.N. resolutions.

1999 Ron Paul 20:4
This is even more exasperating knowing that upon joining both NATO and the United Nations it was made explicitly clear that no loss of sovereignty would occur and all legislative bodies of member States would retain their legal authority to give or deny support for any proposed military action.

1999 Ron Paul 20:5
Today it is erroneously taken for granted that the President has authority to move troops and fight wars without Congressional approval. It would be nice to believe that this vote on Kosovo was a serious step in the direction of Congress once again reasserting its responsibility for committing U.S. troops abroad. But the President has already notified Congress that, regardless of our sense of Congress resolution, he intends to do what he thinks is right, not what is legal and constitutional, only what he decides for himself.

1999 Ron Paul 20:6
Even with this watered-down endorsement of troop deployment with various conditions listed, the day after the headlines blared “the Congress approves troop deployments to Kosovo.”

1999 Ron Paul 20:7
If Congress is serious about this issue, it must do more. First, Congress cannot in this instance exert its responsibility through a House concurrent resolution. The President can and will ignore this token effort. If Congress decides that we should not become engaged in the civil war in Serbia, we must deny the funds for that purpose. That we can do. Our presidents have assumed the war power, but as of yet Congress still controls the purse.

1999 Ron Paul 20:8
Any effort on our part to enter a civil war in a country 5,000 miles away for the purpose of guaranteeing autonomy and/or a separate state against the avowed objections of the leaders of that country involved, that is Yugoslavia, can and will lead to a long-term serious problem for us.

1999 Ron Paul 20:9
Our policy, whether it is with Iraq or Serbia, of demanding that if certain actions are not forthcoming, we will unleash massive bombing attacks on them, I find reprehensible, immoral, illegal, and unconstitutional. We are seen as a world bully, and a growing anti-American hatred is the result. This policy cannot contribute to long-term peace. Political instability will result and innocent people will suffer. The billions we have spent bombing Iraq, along with sanctions, have solidified Saddam Hussein’s power, while causing the suffering and deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi children. Our policy in Kosovo will be no more fruitful.

1999 Ron Paul 20:10
The recent flare-up of violence in Serbia has been blamed on United States’ plan to send troops to the region. The Serbs have expressed rage at the possibility that NATO would invade their country with the plan to reward the questionable Kosovo Liberation Army. If ever a case could be made for the wisdom of non-intervention, it is here. Who wants to defend all that the KLA had done and at the same time justify a NATO invasion of a sovereign nation for the purpose of supporting secession? “This violence is all America’s fault,” one Yugoslavian was quoted as saying. And who wants to defend Milosevic?

1999 Ron Paul 20:11
Every argument given for our bombing Serbia could be used to support the establishment of Kurdistan. Actually a stronger case can be made to support an independent Kurdistan since their country was taken from them by outsiders. But how would Turkey feel about that? Yet the case could be made that the mistreatment of the Kurds by Saddam Hussein and others compel us to do something to help, since we are pretending that our role is an act as the world’s humanitarian policeman.

1999 Ron Paul 20:12
Humanitarianism, delivered by a powerful government through threats of massive bombing attacks will never be a responsible way to enhance peace. It will surely have the opposite effect.

1999 Ron Paul 20:13
It was hoped that the War Powers Resolution of 1973 would reign in our president’s authority to wage war without Congressional approval. It has not happened because all subsequent Presidents have essentially ignored its mandates. And unfortunately the interpretation since 1973 has been to give the President greater power to wage war with Congressional approval for at least 60 to 90 days as long as he reports to the Congress. These reports are rarely made and the assumption has been since 1973 that Congress need not participate in any serious manner in the decision to send troops.

1999 Ron Paul 20:14
It could be argued that this resulted from a confused understanding of the War Powers Resolution but more likely it’s the result of the growing imperial Presidency that has developed with our presidents assuming power, not legally theirs, and Congress doing nothing about it.

1999 Ron Paul 20:15
Power has been gravitating into the hands of our presidents throughout this century, both in domestic and foreign affairs. Congress has created a maze of federal agencies, placed under the President, that have been granted legislative, police, and judicial powers, thus creating an entire administrative judicial system outside our legal court system where constitutional rights are ignored. Congress is responsible for this trend and it’s Congress’ responsibility to restore Constitutional government.

1999 Ron Paul 20:16
As more and more power has been granted in international affairs, presidents have readily adapted to using Executive Orders, promises and quasi-treaties to expand the scope and size of the presidency far above anything even the Federalist ever dreamed of.

1999 Ron Paul 20:17
We are at a crossroads and if the people and the Congress do not soon insist on the reigning in of presidential power, both foreign and domestic, individual liberty cannot be preserved.

1999 Ron Paul 20:18
Presently, unless the people exert a lot more pressure on the Congress to do so, not much will be done. Specifically, Congress needs a strong message from the people insisting that the Congress continues the debate over Kosovo before an irreversible quagmire develops. The President today believes he is free to pursue any policy he wants in the Balkans and the Persian Gulf without Congressional approval. It shouldn’t be that way. It’s dangerous politically, military, morally, and above all else undermines our entire system of the rule of law.
Notes:

Verses 1999 Ron Paul 20:1 through 1999 Ron Paul 20:11 were spoken on the House floor. The rest of this chapter was inserted into the Congressional Record as an extension of remarks.

1999 Ron Paul 20:11 an act as the world’s humanitarian policeman probably should be to act as the world’s humanitarian policeman.

1999 Ron Paul 20:18 It’s dangerous politically, military, morally probably should be It’s dangerous politically, militarily, morally.

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