25 February 2019   Leave a comment

58 former national security officials, who have served in both Republican and Democratic Administrations, issued a statement protesting President Trump’s national emergency declaration about the southern border. The statement was judicious and read, in part:

” On February 15, 2019, the President declared a “national emergency” for the purpose of diverting appropriated funds from previously designated uses to build a wall along the southern border. We are aware of no emergency that remotely justifies such a step. The President’s actions are at odds with the overwhelming evidence in the public record, including the administration’s own data and estimates. We have lived and worked through national emergencies, and we support the President’s power to mobilize the Executive Branch to respond quickly in genuine national emergencies. But under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today that entitles the President to tap into funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall at the southern border. To our knowledge, the President’s assertion of a national emergency here is unprecedented, in that he seeks to address a situation: (1) that has been enduring, rather than one that has arisen suddenly; (2) that in fact has improved over time rather than deteriorated; (3) by reprogramming billions of dollars in funds in the face of clear congressional intent to the contrary; and (4) with assertions that are rebutted not just by the public record, but by his agencies’ own official data, documents, and statements.

In addition, 26 former Republican lawmakers issued their own statement indicating deep reservations about the constitutionality of the declaration.

“We offer two arguments against allowing a president—any president, regardless of party—to circumvent congressional authority. One is the constitutional placing of all lawmaking power in the hands of the people’s representatives. Article 1 of the Constitution, which vests the legislative branch with specific powers, states in section 9: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” The power of the purse rests with Congress because it is comprised of 535 representatives of the taxpayer and is the most direct connection between those being governed and those governing. If you allow a president to ignore Congress, it will be not your authority but that of your constituents that is deprived of the protections of true representative government.

“The second argument goes directly to the question each of you must face: how much are you willing to undermine both the Constitution and the Congress in order to advance a policy outcome that by all other legitimate means is not achievable? The current issue—a wall on our southern border—has gone through the process put in place by the Constitution. It has been proposed by the President, it has been debated by Congress, and the representatives of the people allocated funding at a level deemed appropriate by Congress. We understand that there are many Members of Congress who disagree with the final funding compromise reached by a bipartisan group of legislators. To you, we ask this question: what will you do when a president of another party uses the precedent you are establishing to impose policies to which you are unalterably opposed? There is no way around this difficulty: what powers are ceded to a president whose policies you support may also be used by presidents whose policies you abhor.”

It is not clear whether the US Congress will heed these warnings. A resolution disapproving the declaration will likely pass the House of Representatives but may not pass the Senate. Even if there are enough Republican Senators to pass the resolution, President Trump will likely veto the resolution. The declaration is incredibly dangerous and unnecessary and it should be defeated.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has unexpectedly announced his resignation. Zarif was a central figure in working out the details of the Iranian nuclear agreement which, despite the US pullout, still remains in force. The resignation was likely in response to pressures from hardliners in Iran who oppose the agreement and it may signal growing power of that group in Iranian politics. If true, then we should pay careful attention to Iranian actions in Syria. The hardliners are also determined to maintain a more forceful position vis-a-vis Israel. The resignation must be accepted by President Rouhani to become effective, so it may be the case that Zarif simply wants Rouhani to repudiate the hardliners.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has taken an early lead in the election polls. The election, which was held yesterday after a week’s delay, was accompanied by a degree of violent protests by those who believe that the results are being manipulated. The election is very important as Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa and has the largest economy. It is also, however, a country plagued by corruption and riven by ethnic and religious conflicts. We do not expect the final results of the election to be announced until later this week.

Posted February 25, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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