Earlier this week, as the Senate considered a bill to impose even tougher sanctions on Iran than the ones already in place, Senator Rand Paul blocked its bipartisan passage pending the addition of an amendment. “My amendment is one sentence long. It states that nothing in this act is to be construed as a declaration of war or as an authorization of the use of force in Iran or Syria,” he said
. “I urge that we not begin a new war without a full debate, without a vote, without careful consideration of the ramifications of a third or even a fourth war in this past decade.”
Paul’s objection was something of a non sequitur. As Majority Leader Harry Reid subsequently stated
, “There’s nothing in the resolution that talks about war,” and although sanctions are themselves arguably an act of war, we’ve long since crossed that line. I am nevertheless glad that the gentleman from Kentucky seized this opportunity to remind his colleagues and American citizens generally that the road to war ought to run through Congress, something that didn’t happen the last time our president sent American combat troops to act on behalf of our foreign allies. (The bill remains blocked
Said Paul in his floor speech:
Our Founding Fathers were quite concerned about giving the power [to] declare war to the Executive. They were quite concerned that the Executive could become like a king. Many in this body cannot get boots on ground fast enough in a variety of places, from Syria to Libya to Iran. We don’t just send boots to war. We send our young Americans to war. Our young men and women, our soldiers, deserve thoughtful debate.
Before sending our young men and women into combat, we should have a mature and thoughtful debate over the ramifications of and over the authorization of war and over the motives of the war. James Madison wrote that the Constitution supposes what history demonstrates. That the Executive is the branch most interested in war and most prone to it. The Constitution, therefore, with studied care vested that power in the Legislature.