Vox Populi
A Letter to the Editor

Putting land troops in foreign countries without congressional approval
Thursday, August 7, 2003

by Kenneth Scot Stremsky

I do not think President Bush has the power to send troops to Liberia because of Article One, Section Eight of the United States Constitution.

I think only Congress has the power to send troops to Liberia. I hope Liberia does not become another Somalia or Lebanon for us. The movie Black Hawk Down discussed how our troops did not have the weapons they needed in Somalia.

Our Marines were murdered in Lebanon.

Article One, Section Eight says Congress and not the President of the United States of America is supposed to declare war. I think sending advisors and/or other troops into Liberia would be a declaration of war.

Congress is supposed "To make Rules for the Government of the land and naval forces."

Congress is supposed "To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations."

I realize the President of the United States of America is the Commander-In-Chief of our military. Putting land troops in foreign countries without congressional approval is something that worries me. I think the President of the United States of America needs to be able to move our naval power and air power without Congressional approval.

I ran for the United States Senate as a Republican in 2002.  I am looking for a campaign treasurer and a campaign manager.


Kenneth Scot Stremsky
former United States Senate candidate


Richard E. Berg-Andersson, on behalf of 'The Green Papers', responds:

Putting aside for the time being whether or not it might, or might not be, a good idea to send U.S. troops to help deal with the insurrection in Liberia, there does not seem to be an inherent difference between the President of the United States moving naval and air forces without Congressional approval and moving land forces without Congressional approval. If, as the Constitution of the United States makes clear at the very beginning of Article II, Section 2, clause 1, the President is, indeed, "the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States" (the U.S. Air Force is included herein by implication, as it was originally the Air Corps [and then the Air Forces] of the U.S. Army prior to the creation of the Department of Defense and the concomitant institution of the Air Force as a separate branch of service in 1947; in addition, although these are not part of the U.S. Air Force per se, the U.S. Navy has its own air forces [both within the Navy proper as well as within the United States Marine Corps]), whatever powers the President might have to move naval and air forces- with or without Congressional approval, depending on the circumstances- must, by definition, equally apply to the Nation's land forces as well.

It would, to take one obvious example, be very difficult to coordinate- let alone respond with- the Special Operations forces of the various branches of the military re: a particular military operation as part of the general War on International Terrorism (or, for that matter, ongoing operations to attempt to restore complete order in Iraq) were such not the case. Thus, or so it seems to me, Mr. Stremsky's distinction seems to be most impractical.

I do think that President Bush would be much better served to get some kind of specific authorization from Congress before placing American troops in Liberia (in a sense, my argument along these lines is not all that much different in kind than that I have already made in my 13 September 2002 Commentary entitled "Choice of Colors" re: the then still-potential war in Iraq, though it is rather different in degree-- for I do not think a formal Declaration of War is necessarily required here-- then again, there was no Declaration of War as regards Iraq, so there would likely not be one as regards Liberia in any event!)

One further suggestion, if I might: Mr. Stremsky is evidently looking for a campaign staff for some run for public office either in, or from, his State of New Hampshire. It would be- or so I would think- most wise for Mr. Stremsky to decide which race he might be considering first: he could, of course, run for President, as he was once thinking of doing; he could challenge for the Class 3 U.S. Senate seat from his State (currently held by his fellow Republican, former Governor Judd Gregg) or he could even run for Governor (a post currently held by his fellow Republican Chris Benson)... but, as is now being said in some criticism of Republican California Gubernatorial Recall Election hopeful Arnold Schwarzenegger, one is better served to have policies and proposals in place before considering a race for elective office... Mr. Stremsky, clearly not anywhere near as well known as Mr. Schwarzenegger, should determine his candidacy for a given office first, putting forth his own reasons for running for same, and only then begin putting together some kind of campaign team!


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