Today, I begin with an oft-quoted passage from the Federalist Papers No. 51 generally attributed to James Madison but, possibly, written by Alexander Hamilton.
“If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” –Federalist Papers No. 51
America. A socio/political experiment in the defeat of tyranny. With the Age of Enlightenment came the radical belief that when left to think and act for themselves without interference, mostly from Church and State, and certainly not the two working in tandem, persons would generally make the best decisions for, well, themselves. This is not to say the Founding Fathers were best described as anarchists, certainly not Godless or even libertarian. They were, for the most part, Deists who believed that the advanced science inherent in the obvious order of nature was the best indication of “intelligent design” and, hence, the existence of G-d. In short, someone smarter than us built the (As above) so-below part. But the question remained, how to best use it?
What was the best way to set up a society bent on individuals deciding for themselves? You separate those who would decide for you. From the lessons of Henry VIII and the Anglican Church, first, you separate Church and State, guaranteeing freedom of religious exercise and the establishment of an official, government sanctioned religion. Next and again based on the lessons of history, foremost the Roman Empire and English Parliament, you break the three core functions of government into three separate but equal branches. The Legislative, the Executive and the Judicial. Then, by implementing a system of checks and balances, you do your best to ensure no one person, aka a despot, tyrant, take your pick, may unilaterally designate, divine or decide that his will Trumps (coming soon to a dictionary near you) the will of the people to think and then act in their own best interests, as G-d so intended.
One of the grayer areas of constitutional separation, checks and balances, is American foreign policy. The Constitution itself grants, let’s call them duties and obligations that are related to foreign affairs to both the Executive and Legislative branches.
In addition to the War Powers (we usually (but not always) make war on foreigners) in Article II Section 2, the President is expressly enabled as follows:
“He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.”
It is also generally assumed through case law and practice that in matters of foreign policy the President “speaks as one voice” (One Voice Doctrine) for the people and thereby takes the initiative in matters related to external affairs.
Congress also has an explicit role in foreign affairs. In addition to its own War Powers, and the Senate’s right to Advise and Consent the President, Article I section 8 Clause 3 includes the right to regulate foreign commerce under the Commerce Clause:
“To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” (Emphasis added).
Recently, a great deal of attention has been placed upon foreign relations between the United States and Israel. For the record, the President acting unilaterally has, against literally decades of foreign policy to the contrary, reversed longstanding US policy on Israeli settlements. In fact, calling it “Obama’s Policy” although it was, in fact, Jimmy Carter’s administration that ruled in 1978, that’s 40 years ago for those who are counting, that ruled that civilian Israeli settlements were illegal under international law.
Now, it is true, Ronald Reagan, “changed” the word “illegal” to “illegitimate” in an action to downplay the international significance of the West Bank settlement, but it is there we have stood, till now. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with a President supporting an ally, more or less, fervently than his predecessors, but officially acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital? A move certain to throw more fuel on the Israel-Palestinian two separate states fire? This is also on top of his unusually cozy relationship with fellow fascist Netanyahu. Is influencing Israel, not an enemy but a friendly nation’s elections to stay committed to the “right” a legitimate foreign interest? And yes, I will say it, is promoting the “Rapture” a legitimate function of state or religion?
Is this your voice? It’s not mine and I condemn it. Oh, and BTW, Jared, if you are listening, still working on that Middle East Peace Plan that nobody has ever seen? Khashoggi’s ghost must be turning in his dismembered grave.
Did you get your fill of Phil?