The Skeptics

If Senator Lieberman Wants a War with Iran, He Should Try to Declare One

In a recent event at the neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative, Senator Joe Lieberman had this exchange with Bill Kristol:

SENATOR LIEBERMAN: …nobody wants to use military force against Iran, but there is a base, a broad, bipartisan base of support if the Commander in Chief comes to a point where he thinks that's necessary.

MR. KRISTOL: And so Congress could –

SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Could express that in some way, but I think that's not tomorrow, but it may be down the road depending on -- I mean, when you think about it, by January it will have been six months since the sanctions began to be applied to Iran, and it's fair to say that there's been no voluntary limitation of their nuclear weapons program. There's been some involuntary limitation as a result of some problems they've had with it. So we haven't seen really any positive action in response yet to what we've done.

I disagree with Senator Lieberman about the utility and desirability of a war with Iran, but let’s put that aside for a moment. Joe Lieberman is a sitting Senator in the United States Senate. He does not need to wait for the “commander in chief’s” say-so if he thinks a war with Iran is or becomes necessary. Let’s repair to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution:

The Congress shall have Power…To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water…

That’s right, if Joe Lieberman decides the United States should attack Iran, he doesn’t have to wait for Barack Obama to decide. He can rally his forces on Capitol Hill and actually make it happen.

It speaks volumes about how far the balance of power among the branches has shifted that a sitting Senator would act as if he has to wait on the President to declare a war. This sort of thing could make one wish that Senator Byrd were still with us.