Sputnik News reported Monday that the American Senate, with specific support from Senator John McCain, proposes a bill to prevent a US President from leaving NATO unless this is supported by a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate. This not only applies to NATO but to all treaties:
According to a new bill introduced by a number of senators, including Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), the president of the United States will require the support of two-thirds of the Senate to modify or terminate US membership in the North Atlantic Alliance.
Under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the US president “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.”
“Just as it was required to join NATO, Senate approval should be required before this President – or any US President – can withdraw,” Senator Tim Kaine, who is a member of the Senate Armed Service and Foreign Relations committees, said in a statement.
The legislation would also authorize the Senate Legal Counsel to challenge any attempt by the president and his administration to pull out of the 29-member bloc without the Senate’s approval in court.
Ostensibly, this bill is aimed at the current US President, Donald Trump. Further, it was never raised over President Obama’s agreement in the well-known Iran “nuclear deal” (the JCPoA), which was also accompanied by illegal shipments of huge amounts of US and other currencies to Iran. Sputnik further underlines the motives underlying this present piece of legislation:
“Regrettably, President Trump’s mistreatment of our closest allies has raised doubts about America’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance and the values of defense. In the future, the Senate must be prepared to defend its constitutional role. This legislation is urgently required to ensure that no president can withdraw the United States from NATO without the constitutionally required advice and consent of the Senate,” Senator John McCain elaborated.
However, this bill does not change anything. It simply affirms what the founding document says. reflect a change in the understanding of the Constitution. That is shown here (emphasis added):
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; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
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.
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
At issue here is far less a matter of real policy and far more a matter of the issue of the politics of a prior generation versus the needs and conditions of the present day.
During the NATO summit a few weeks ago, President Trump never breathed a word about the US quitting the alliance. He has spoken in extensively in the past about the present problems of (1) purposelessness of NATO and (2) the fact that member nations have largely been underpaying their agreed commitments to the alliance for the development and maintenance of its defense forces.
In the summit he addressed these again. Far from expressing a US wish to leave, President Trump went completely the opposite direction, calling out the German agreement with Russia (the supposed enemy of NATO) to purchase natural gas through a pipeline that does not pass through other NATO member countries on its way between Russia and Germany:
Speaking ahead of the summit of the transatlantic military alliance, the US president said: “We’re protecting all of these countries and then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they’re paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia. […] I think that’s very inappropriate.”
This of course actually amplifies the president’s first criticism of NATO, that being its present-day lack of purpose. The alliance was brought into existence to stand against any Soviet expansionism. But the Soviet Union is now history, and the present-day Russian Federation’s gains in economic and military power are not being employed in expansionism. However, it seems that the generation of people who lived through the Cold War are reluctant to let go of the idea that this conflict is actually over. This appears to be strongly represented by Senator McCain and other members of the US Congress in both parties.
It further calls into question the underlying position of the West and its attitude about the world. Whether “neo-conservative” or “neo-liberal”, the name of the point of view indicates that Russia must be the “bad guy” in order for the set of policies to even have meaning, let alone work.
President Trump successfully challenged this notion on a very public level, while also obtaining the needed correction for the alliance members’ compliance with the requirements of the treaty itself.
While the US Senate makes a minor point of news in proposing and publicizing this “reaffirmation” bill, it would appear that calling attention to this raises more questions than is intended.