Doesn’t the constitution limit foreign policy to only “the Common Defense”?
No, no it doesn’t. Strictly speaking the Constitution doesn’t limit the use of the armed services in any way beyond the balance of powers of the branches of the government. In Article 1 Section 8 Congress is given the power to declare war in line 11 and raise armies in line 12 (notice they are viewed as two very separate powers), but the President in made Commander in Chief of those armies whenever they are raised in Article 2 Section 2. Not limit is placed on reason for raising armies or declaring war.
Further going back Article I Section 8 Line 10:
“To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations.” Now we can debate what the Founders meant exactly by “the law of nations” but it clearly shows they’re thinking of things just beyond our borders
Taken in conjunction with the necessary and proper clause this gives a wide latitude for reasons to act.
(Also I would point out that in Article I Section 8 Line 11, Congress is also granted the power to grant “letters of marquee” this has fallen out of fashion since the birth of this nation, most don’t realize what this is…it’s giving authorization to allow privateers, i.e. pirates, to operate in the name of the U.S. When you’re allowing outright theft of other people’s property because you’re in a war with them, I don’t think the Founders necessarily had a very limited view of war powers.)
Similar arguments can pointed to in the diplomatic functions of the government (as a balance between President and Senate) but no limited is placed on the goals of that diplomacy.
But let’s turn back to your quote about proving for the Common Defense from the preamble. Nowhere does the call to “provide for the common defense” mean that that is the only thing foreign policy can be for. It also calls to “establish Justice” and ” and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” now taken in a very limited sense, you could assume that this means only for Americans. But somehow I don’t think the Founding Fathers believed that these rights magically end at the US border. And if you were to tie either of these two points to foreign policy, as it could just as easily be applied to the “Common Defense” (which was meant from external AND internal threats, so not just foreign policy) you could argue for a fairly anti-tyranny stance.
I would also point to strict Constitutionalist Jefferson who waged pre-emptive war, without Congressional approval, against the Barbary Pirate states…suggesting that wide latitude should be given to foreign policy.
And that anti-Federalist (meaning he thought the Constitution gave the federal government) James Monroe, came up with the Monroe Doctrine whose purpose was to expand liberty not just in the US but through out ALL of North AND South America.
Finally I would point out that opposition to tyranny is the only effective long term solution to “the common defense”
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