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That the constitutional system of the US is in deep crisis, with Congress essentially abdicating its powers to the ‘imperial President’, is starkly illustrated by the growing military stand-off between the US and North Korea.
Rumours have been circulating for days that the Trump administration is considering a pre-emptive military strike against North Korea to forestall North Korea’s latest nuclear test. There are reports that that test will be of a hydrogen bomb, and that it will take place either this weekend or soon after.
In support of the Trump administration’s sabre rattling a US navy carrier task force has been despatched to the seas around the Korean Peninsula, with talk that US navy destroyers equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles are positioned just 300 kilometres from the North Korean test site. There are also reports of US troop movements on the Korean Peninsula, and of US navy submarines, also equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles, deployed near North Korea as well.
North Korea for its part is threatening to counter-attack with nuclear weapons, and says it is prepared to strike at US bases and at the South Korean Presidential Palace in Seoul. Though the full extent of North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities is barely known (even it seems by US intelligence), North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, and the possibility that it already possesses functioning nuclear weapons together with the means for their delivery is very real.
In 1994 the US military in South Korea advised the Pentagon that in the event of an all-out war in the Korean Peninsula, North Korea possessed the capability to destroy Seoul with massive artillery barrages, causing up to a million casualties. Whilst I suspect those claims were wildly exaggerated, today – when North Korea possesses nuclear weapons – they may be true.
The need for the US Congress – to which the US Constitution gives the sole right to declare war – to at least ask the President to explain what is going on and what he is proposing to do, and to ask Congress for at least some form of authorisation, or to engage in at least some form of consultation, before he takes action which might set in train events which might cause millions of deaths, ought to be compelling and obvious.
Instead Congress is silent and there is no pressure in the US establishment media for it to be otherwise. The result is that for all we know the US could soon be at war with a nuclear power without Congress having said or done anything about it.
Over the last few months Congress has devoted an incredible amount of time and energy investigating fictitious links between the President’s campaign team and the Russians despite repeated confirmation from those in the know that actual evidence of inappropriate links between the President’s campaign team and the Russians does not exist. Yet when faced with the actual possibility of a war which might easily go nuclear Congress does nothing.
The spirits of the Founding Fathers, if they have any knowledge of what is happening, must be in despair.