Asmodeus

Battle Ready


"Worthy of Stalin"
April 06, 2006

The keeping-secret of Cheney's warrantless wiretaps, that is, according to Bruce Ackerman right now on The Diane Rehm Show. Ackerman is a constitutional scholar whose thought experiment engages what might happen after the next attack. It's good to see such hypotheticals finally getting some attention.

War Powers and the Millennium
Paul W. Kahn

There has been general agreement that the president has constitutional authority to use nuclear weapons in self-defense without prior congressional authorization. Scholars and politicians have thought that they have no choice with respect to this issue. This has served as a kind of “reality check” on constitutional interpretation: the Constitution could not impose a legal rule that would subject the nation to substantial risk of nuclear destruction. In a MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) world, interpretation could be a bit mad. That it was a bit mad becomes clear when we consider how much is given away in this seemingly uncontroversial step. Most obviously, the president has the power to bring on a world-destroying Armageddon without prior congressional approval.32

32 See Elaine Scarry, War and the Social Contract: Nuclear Policy, Distribution, and the Right to Bear Arms, 139 U. PA. L. REV. 1257, 1259-60 (1991).

» it's what's militarily and politically doable that concerns me, and given the dhimmified passivity
» of the Jesus-rotted West my sad guess is it will take a nuked city to wake us the hell up.

April 20, 2006

nick. sd mentioned the "death wish military" of the Germans during WWII. you've noticed previously it takes a while for the US to get its act together during times of war; you've asked "what's militarily and politically doable" on this thread & said the "US military power is the real infrastructure of freedom on this planet".

when i say the left is the only check & balance against the president, i mean {a} the checks & balances in the American Constitution may be compromised & {b} the 1994 Republican Revolution to establish a conservative agenda (probably in response to an earlier liberal agenda). the Republicans had not held a majority in the House for 40 years. i've also noticed that, since FDR, no president was able to go two full terms of office until Reagan (if you count this from 1945 with Truman taking office to 1981 when Reagan re-elected, that's 36 years). it's been an interesting political landscape since WWII. so on 9/11 we had a conservative political agenda in play.

imho, the Bush terrorism program suffers from a political framework. executing a complex & long-range war from a political locus is unsustainable (hope this is obvious). unfortunately, the 2000 Presidential Election remains problematic where half the citizenry has lost confidence in the voting process. the right to vote is a primary expression of the American Fasces. defining the front of the Mercury Dime is the left (liberty) & the back as the right (fasces) seems to describe the major American political traditions. the complaint on the right concerning the left as "unpatriotic" engenders the response from the left, "who's stopping you?" are we executing a war? does the president have war powers? is the nation willing to fight? yes, yes & yes.

there are times when the right needs to remember liberty, times the left needs to remember the fasces & a time for the coin of the realm to become united. each side of the coin operates from different political traditions & these differences lead to different political solutions, but whatever the policy, the US military remains at the ready.

the US military probably understands the American Fasces better than anyone, since they understand their role in American society — this awareness goes all the way back to Washington. keep in mind the US military does not act independently, but executes policies from the Commander-in-Chief. sometimes the military may call for war before the C-in-C; however, many times they are called in to correct political problems. the US military is also challenged to fight "fair" & "clean" — even though war is nasty business. imho, My Lai & Abu Ghraib, while profound failures, are examples of the US military's precarious balance between brutality and fairness.

therefore, US military power is NOT the real infrastructure of freedom. this is a serious misunderstanding of the American Fasces on your part if you think so. that Mercury Dime is in every American Heart — undivided. when we see a fight worth fighting we all pitch in. THAT'S what you need. imho, we're not getting that Mercury Dime into play.

Bruce Ackerman's war framework analysis in Before the Next Attack acknowledges the need to provide temporary "wiggle room" sometimes. my understanding is that every constitutional power has a check & balance, so when presidential power is increased during times of conflict this needs to be carefully vetted to assure things "snap back" when the conflict ends. extremely important constitutional feature because we're a democracy & not a military regime. we have to know how to assemble war powers to make sure they are correctly disassembled.

i wanted to get a better idea on Ackerman's thinking & found Paul Kahn's War Powers and the Millennium & he says it way better. i've been struggling to write this for several hours & i'm not a constitutional scholar. Kahn illustrates the challenges every American knows ("the duties and meaning of citizenship", "maintaining the achievements of early generations and transmitting them to the future"), but may not be able to fully communicate

…we harbor too many divisions over our own principles… We have no neutral way out of these conflicts over the path of the law because there is no line separating these disagreements over the content of the law from deeper conflicts over the nature of the rule of law itself. Our conflicts go directly to the place and meaning of law in our common life… we are not going to make much progress in understanding the constitutional provisions establishing Congress’s war powers simply by adopting one or another interpretive stance. As in most of constitutional law, there is no neutral ground. Instead, there are multiple paths leading to multiple meanings. We cannot expect agreement, when in fact we are proceeding on principles of interpretation that are themselves deeply controverted.

We should be clear on just how great our principled disagreements in this area are. We are at that point in our constitutional deliberations where the often repeated warning that the Constitution “is not a suicide pact” confronts an equal and opposite warning that “[e]xtraordinary conditions do not create or enlarge constitutional power.” We are treading very close to ultimate values: values of national survival, on the one hand, and of the meaning of the American political order as a community under law, on the other. With such large stakes, there is a tendency to yield to intuition and moral sentiment. At that point, conflict threatens to become irresolvable.

If the principles are all controverted and intuition is an inadequate ground of interpretation, what is left? To begin with, we need a better description of the setting within which the elaboration of American constitutional standards respecting issues of use of force takes place today. This will not tell us what to do with our Constitution, but it will enable us to understand better what is at stake.

my thinking is that how we establish a framework establishes a trajectory which provides a solution that resolves a problem. the framework of the current terrorist program is a problem of interpretation. i think John Kilgore's Axis to Grind sums up some of these problems.

Open Thread
BooMan
Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 12:21:55 AM EST
If you ever wondered what a CENTCOM commander does, you should read this Esquire column. Or you can buy this book by Tom Clancy.

What's on your mind?

Michael Walzer, moral midget
Roger Gathman
Sunday, March 09, 2008

“Weber's definition suggests that the state is constituted by its monopoly on the use of force. It is also, and perhaps more importantly, justified by its monopoly. This is what states are for; this is what they have to do before they do anything else--shut down the private wars, disarm the private armies, lock up the warlords. It is a very dangerous business to loosen the state's grip on the use of violence, to allow war to become anything other than a public responsibility.”

Since there was no preceding reference to Weber in this fucking throw-away, to refer to Weber’s definition is a bit of intellectual discourtesy – it assumes we all know Weber’s theory of the state. But, in actuality, it assumes that we all know the leading cliché that we get from a first year sociology class about Weber’s theory of the state. And even here we have this weird construction of “monopoly on” rather than “monopoly of”, which, though a common construction among sociologists (who are to the English language as the borer beetle is to the pine tree) shows a significant lack of looking up the Weber quote – which goes, for fans of the Economy and Society translation by Talcott Parsons:

“A compulsory political organization with continuous operations (politischer Anstaltsbetrieb) will be called a “state” insofar as its administrative staff successfully upholds the claim to the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force in the enforcement of its order. Social action, especially organized action, will be spoken of as “politically oriented” if it aims at exerting inflence on the government of a polical organization….”

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note: see my comment here.