Not a corona­tion of our next com­man­der

The Washington Times Weekly - - Letters To The Editor - Ben­jamin P. Martin Los Al­tos Hills, Cal­i­for­nia

Your Aug. 18 edi­tion con­tained a well re­searched and well-writ­ten ar­ti­cle called, “Ge­or­gia hos­til­ity tests candidates’ diplo­macy” (page 3), writ­ten by Joseph Curl and Don­ald Lam­bro. But it be­gins with, “The two se­na­tors au­di­tion­ing for the role of com­man­der in chief. . .”.

It seems to be the gen­eral be­lief that a per­son be­comes “Com­man­der in Chief” merely by winning an elec­tion. The cur­rent pres­i­dent, re­cent pres­i­dents, and all wanna-bes also think so. But if that were true, a pres­i­dent would, in ef­fect, have his own pri­vate mil­i­tary force which he could send against any na­tion of his choos­ing, at any time he chose, at the na­tion’s ex­pense in blood and money.

This idea ev­i­dently comes from a cur­sory read­ing of Ar­ti­cle II, Sec­tion 2 of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion which says, “1. The Pres­i­dent shall be com­man­der in chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the mili­tia of the sev­eral States, when called into the ac­tual ser­vice of the United States. . .” (There was no Air Force then.) The end of that state­ment, “when called into the ac­tual ser­vice of the United States”, is the key to un­der­stand­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

If the Found­ing Fathers of this great na­tion meant that a pres­i­dent should have the au­thor­ity to com­mit the na­tion to war, and then claim the ti­tle of “Com­man­der in Chief” be­cause the mil­i­tary is then in “the ac­tual ser­vice of the United States” it would be tan­ta­mount to giv­ing him the au­thor­ity to ap­point him­self “Com­man­der in Chief,” mak­ing him, in ef­fect, em­peror. Is that re­ally what the Founders had in mind?

To de­ter­mine how the mil­i­tary may legally be called into ser­vice we need only re­fer to, Ar­ti­cle I, Sec­tion 8 of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion which says, “The Congress shall have the power: 11. To de­clare war, grant let­ters of mar­que and reprisal. . .”

In other words, only the Congress has the au­thor­ity to com­mit the na­tion to war, by a dec­la­ra­tion of war. And then, the Pres­i­dent be­comes “Com­man­der in Chief” of the mil­i­tary.

The Con­sti­tu­tion does not equate merely Congress’ ap­proval of the pres­i­dent’s send­ing the na­tion to war as a dec­la­ra­tion of war, as has been er­ro­neously as­sumed.

There­fore, we have not had a Com­man­der in Chief since Harry Tru­man. What­ever we think of Harry Tru­man makes no dif­fer­ence on this.

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