The American Declaration Revisited

Cross ref:

What Happened to the American Declaration of War?  
  March 29, 2011By George FriedmanIn my book “ The Next Decade,” I spend a good deal of time considering the relation of the American Empire to the American Republic and the threat the empire poses to the republic. If there is a single point where these matters converge, it is in the constitutional requirement that Congress approve wars through a declaration of war and in the abandonment of this requirement since World War II. This is the point where the burdens and interests of the United States as a global empire collide with the principles and rights of the United States as a republic.World War II was the last war the United States fought with a formal declaration of war. The wars fought since have had congressional approval, both in the sense that resolutions were passed and that Congress appropriated funds, but the Constitution is explicit in requiring a formal declaration. It does so for two reasons, I think. The first is to prevent the president from taking the country to war without the consent of the governed, as represented by Congress. Second, by providing for a specific path to war, it provides the president power and legitimacy he would not have without that declaration; it both restrains the president and empowers him. Not only does it make his position as commander in chief unassailable by authorizing military action, it creates shared responsibility for war. A declaration of war informs the public of the burdens they will have to bear by leaving no doubt that Congress has decided on a new order — war — with how each member of Congress voted made known to the public.

Almost all Americans have heard Franklin Roosevelt’s speech to Congress on Dec. 8, 1941: “Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan … I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”

It was a moment of majesty and sobriety, and with Congress’ affirmation, represented the unquestioned will of the republic. There was no going back, and there was no question that the burden would be borne. True, the Japanese had attacked the United States, making getting the declaration easier. But that’s what the founders intended: Going to war should be difficult; once at war, the commander in chief’s authority should be unquestionable.

Forgoing the Declaration

It is odd, therefore, that presidents who need that authorization badly should forgo pursuing it. Not doing so has led to seriously failed presidencies: Harry Truman in Korea, unable to seek another term; Lyndon Johnson in Vietnam, also unable to seek a new term; George W. Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq, completing his terms but enormously unpopular. There was more to this than undeclared wars, but that the legitimacy of each war was questioned and became a contentious political issue certainly is rooted in the failure to follow constitutional pathways.

In understanding how war and constitutional norms became separated, we must begin with the first major undeclared war in American history (the Civil War was not a foreign war), Korea. When North Korea invaded South Korea, Truman took recourse to the new U.N. Security Council. He wanted international sanction for the war and was able to get it because the Soviet representatives happened to be boycotting the Security Council over other issues at the time.

Truman’s view was that U.N. sanction for the war superseded the requirement for a declaration of war in two ways. First, it was not a war in the strict sense, he argued, but a “police action” under the U.N. Charter. Second, the U.N. Charter constituted a treaty, therefore implicitly binding the United States to go to war if the United Nations so ordered. Whether Congress’ authorization to join the United Nations both obligated the United States to wage war at U.N. behest, obviating the need for declarations of war because Congress had already authorized police actions, is an interesting question. Whatever the answer, Truman set a precedent that wars could be waged without congressional declarations of war and that other actions — from treaties to resolutions to budgetary authorizations — mooted declarations of war.

If this was the founding precedent, the deepest argument for the irrelevancy of the declaration of war is to be found in nuclear weapons. Starting in the 1950s, paralleling the Korean War, was the increasing risk of nuclear war. It was understood that if nuclear war occurred, either through an attack by the Soviets or a first strike by the United States, time and secrecy made a prior declaration of war by Congress impossible. In the expected scenario of a Soviet first strike, there would be only minutes for the president to authorize counterstrikes and no time for constitutional niceties. In that sense, it was argued fairly persuasively that the Constitution had become irrelevant to the military realities facing the republic.

Nuclear war was seen as the most realistic war-fighting scenario, with all other forms of war trivial in comparison. Just as nuclear weapons came to be called “strategic weapons” with other weapons of war occupying a lesser space, nuclear war became identical with war in general. If that was so, then constitutional procedures that could not be applied to nuclear war were simply no longer relevant.

Paradoxically, if nuclear warfare represented the highest level of warfare, there developed at the lowest level covert operations. Apart from the nuclear confrontation with the Soviets, there was an intense covert war, from back alleys in Europe to the Congo, Indochina to Latin America. Indeed, it was waged everywhere precisely because the threat of nuclear war was so terrible: Covert warfare became a prudent alternative. All of these operations had to be deniable. An attempt to assassinate a Soviet agent or raise a secret army to face a Soviet secret army could not be validated with a declaration of war. The Cold War was a series of interconnected but discrete operations, fought with secret forces whose very principle was deniability. How could declarations of war be expected in operations so small in size that had to be kept secret from Congress anyway?

There was then the need to support allies, particularly in sending advisers to train their armies. These advisers were not there to engage in combat but to advise those who did. In many cases, this became an artificial distinction: The advisers accompanied their students on missions, and some died. But this was not war in any conventional sense of the term. And therefore, the declaration of war didn’t apply.

By the time Vietnam came up, the transition from military assistance to advisers to advisers in combat to U.S. forces at war was so subtle that there was no moment to which you could point that said that we were now in a state of war where previously we weren’t. Rather than ask for a declaration of war, Johnson used an incident in the Tonkin Gulf to get a congressional resolution that he interpreted as being the equivalent of war. The problem here was that it was not clear that had he asked for a formal declaration of war he would have gotten one. Johnson didn’t take that chance.

What Johnson did was use Cold War precedents, from the Korean War, to nuclear warfare, to covert operations to the subtle distinctions of contemporary warfare in order to wage a substantial and extended war based on the Tonkin Gulf resolution — which Congress clearly didn’t see as a declaration of war — instead of asking for a formal declaration. And this represented the breakpoint. In Vietnam, the issue was not some legal or practical justification for not asking for a declaration. Rather, it was a political consideration.

Johnson did not know that he could get a declaration; the public might not be prepared to go to war. For this reason, rather than ask for a declaration, he used all the prior precedents to simply go to war without a declaration. In my view, that was the moment the declaration of war as a constitutional imperative collapsed. And in my view, so did the Johnson presidency. In hindsight, he needed a declaration badly, and if he could not get it, Vietnam would have been lost, and so may have been his presidency. Since Vietnam was lost anyway from lack of public consensus, his decision was a mistake. But it set the stage for everything that came after — war by resolution rather than by formal constitutional process.

After the war, Congress created the War Powers Act in recognition that wars might commence before congressional approval could be given. However, rather than returning to the constitutional method of the Declaration of War, which can be given after the commencement of war if necessary (consider World War II) Congress chose to bypass declarations of war in favor of resolutions allowing wars. Their reason was the same as the president’s: It was politically safer to authorize a war already under way than to invoke declarations of war.

All of this arose within the assertion that the president’s powers as commander in chief authorized him to engage in warfare without a congressional declaration of war, an idea that came in full force in the context of nuclear war and then was extended to the broader idea that all wars were at the discretion of the president. From my simple reading, the Constitution is fairly clear on the subject: Congress is given the power to declare war. At that moment, the president as commander in chief is free to prosecute the war as he thinks best. But constitutional law and the language of the Constitution seem to have diverged. It is a complex field of study, obviously


Idkit aka Ana, Ag Moderator.

Austrian Economics Preferred

Cross ref

Like the author of this post, I tend to follow Austrian Economics; let’s see

18 Days Later…
By Vedran Vuk

Dear Reader,

In the Daily Dispatch, I often discuss what’s on Bernanke’s mind. However, to a large extent, I’m simplifying his real thoughts. With Keynesian economics, it’s always easier to discuss the philosophical aspects than the very specific underpinnings.

On the one hand, I want to share more knowledge on the subject, but on the other hand, no one wants to read a math journal. However, I did think of a way to bring the point across. Most of us have never peered inside an advanced economics textbook in our lives. And yet, these textbook pages are what Ben Bernanke is thinking about.

So, today, here’s a glance at just two pages of the most mainstream macroeconomics textbook out there, Advanced Macroeconomics by David Romer. (David Romer is the husband of the now famed economist Christina Romer. Those two must have some interesting arguments over breakfast.)

The hieroglyphics above represent a model quantifying the effect of the savings rate on long-term growth. And this is just chapter 1, page 23. The book continues for another 616 pages. And yes, I’ve read it cover to cover – twice. Not only do I know a lot about Austrian economics, but I’m fairly well trained in Keynesian economics too – or, as I like to call it, the dark arts.

Romer’s Advanced Macroeconomics is assigned to almost every first-year PhD economics students in the country. At MIT, it’s an undergraduate text. Now consider that Bernanke and other lovable characters such as Paul Krugman received their doctorate degrees from the very same math-intensive MIT program.

So, when Ben Bernanke thinks about interest rates, unemployment and GDP, he isn’t thinking about it like the regular guy on the street. He’s trying to solve some ridiculous equation. These two pages are a small sample of how his mind works. His policies may seem bizarre at times, and that’s due to the use of mathematics for his decision-making process. Most of us realize that printing piles of money isn’t a particularly wise idea. However, Bernanke’s equations tell him something different.

In my opinion, utilizing mathematics to centrally plan an economy isn’t a particularly intelligent idea. It only gives the illusion of understanding complexity. Unfortunately, the economics profession has long craved the respect of the sciences. Hence, economists futilely attempt to define social phenomena through mathematical approaches. Some of the cross-over is absolutely absurd. For example, many of the earlier economic growth models were based on ballistics theory. At the end of the day, economics just isn’t physics. And those who apply ballistics theories to growth rates more often than not blow up the world – economically speaking.

So, is there a use for this mathematical gibberish? Unfortunately, yes. As long as the MIT guys are at the helm, we’re in their world. With an understanding of their formulas, one can guess the equations on their minds and the importance of certain variables. Hence, one can get a better picture of the Fed’s actions in the short term.

In my own analysis, I follow Austrian economics for my long-term views on the economy. But for the short term, it’s actually more valuable to understand the ins and outs of Keynesian economics. That’s the only way to dig into Bernanke’s mind.

Even my prediction in yesterday’s Dispatch is influenced by this approach. Will Bernanke start discussing higher rates to boost the dollar? Believe it or not, there is an economic model quantifying whether a central banker should discuss higher rates. Now, I’m not going to base my prediction on a series of equations. But it’s very useful to understand the hobgoblins that may be jumping around Bernanke’s mind.

Well, I hope this gave you some insight into the central banking process and didn’t leave you even more confused.


Idkit aka Ana

Ag Moderator

Act of God and Cashflow

With the act of God in Japan, it is not easy to use Technical Analysis;  we’ll see what Ray has to say.

Charting Viewer Emails

Mon. Mar. 14 2011 | 11:50 AM[01:12]

Ray Barros, CEO of Ray Barros Trading Group, charts the S&P 500, JSX as well as gold.

Nuclear Concerns Weigh on Tokyo Stocks

Mon. Mar. 14 2011 | 11:00 AM[02:26]

Ray Barros, CEO of Ray Barros Trading Group shares his technical analysis of the Nikkei 225 and dollar-yen cross.

Idkit aka Ana

Ag Moderator

Video by Jared Mast

For those who are not familiar with Ray’s track records, here is  a current interview with the Trading Elite.

Ray Barros – How to return 39% a year, for 30 years

I just got done talking to Ray Barros of While Ray may not be known as well in the west, his track record certainly speaks for itself.

Since he started trading more than thirty years ago, his track record reflects a whopping 39 percent per annum return on a compounded basis. This means a hypothetical investment of $1,000 returned over $230,000 in the 17-year period between 1990 and July 2007. He is also the author of ‘The Nature of Trends’ published by Wiley Press. Ray has been regularly featured in regional newspapers and publications like Sydney Morning Herald, Your Trading Edge Magazine, Business Times, and Smart Investor

A lawyer by profession and training, Ray gave up his lucrative law practice in the 1980s to focus on his first love – trading. His initial attempts at trading failed miserably and he suffered heavy losses. But, after making all the mistakes in a trader’s manual and then some, Ray finally hit on a trading approach that gives him the market edge.

This approach has proven effective in both trending and congested markets, allowing him to trade profitably and consistently. Thereafter, he was highly sought after by major banks to manage their funds. At the same time, he was also very much sought after as a trainer to train other institutional traders based on the strategies and techniques he developed.

Idkit aka Ana, Ag Moderator

Cashflow today with Ray

Airtime: Mon. Feb. 21 2011 | 11:20 AM ET

China has been slow to raise rates in the last few years due for fear of derailing the global economic recovery, Brian Jackson, Senior Emerging Markets Strategist at Royal Bank of Canada told CNBC’s Oriel Morrison. He shares his expectations for further tightening.

Ray Barros, CEO of Ray Barros Trading Group, believes the price of natural gas is heading downwards to $3.30 a gallon. He charts a variety of viewer emails, with CNBC’s Oriel Morrison.

Airtime: Mon. Feb. 21 2011 | 11:10 AM ET

Ray Barros, CEO of Ray Barros Trading Group, shares his technical analysis of the Shanghai Composite, with CNBC’s Oriel Morrison & Cheng Lei.

Airtime: Mon. Feb. 21 2011 | 11:00 AM ET

Ray Barros, CEO of Ray Barros Trading Group, says since January the S&P has been climbing higher on very light volume. He tells CNBC’s Oriel Morrison the index will touch 1,400 and thereafter begin trading sideways.

Airtime: Mon. Feb. 21 2011 | 11:40 AM ET

Campbell Dawson, portfolio manager at Elstree Investment Management, advises to sell on ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB & Westpac. The banks are overvalued, he explains to CNBC’s Oriel Morrison, and there is little growth in the Aussie market.

Idkit aka Ana

Ag Moderator

TRT Presentation by Ray on Mon Feb 28 @ 7pm

Cross ref

Traders Round Table Presentation by Ray : Mon Feb 28 @7 pm

Why You Must Learn to Trade Successfully Now

“It has never been more important than NOW to acquire the skills you need to succeed in investing and/or trading.”

– Ray Barros, Feb 2011

Dear Traders-Investors,

On Monday February 28 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM, Traders Round Table will be hosting a talk by Ray Barros.

Ray will be presenting a roadmap for Years 2015 to 2022. This information alone is worth the investment of your time.

He’ll tell you why it’s critical you acquire the necessary mindset, knowledge and skills of trading success, and what you need to do to acquire them.

The presentation will include ‘takeaways’ (i.e. tools you can immediately put to use) in the three areas of trading success. If you don’t know what these are, then you must come!

As an example of a takeaway: What is the FRED graph? Why is it important to your wealth? How do we use it?

In addition, Ray will illustrate his ideas by reviewing current market conditions and providing a one to three month roadmap for them.

Come hear from a 30-year, successful, professional trader!

Date: 28 Feb
Time: 7:00PM to 9:00PM
Price: $40

Reserve your seat now!

(Seats will be confirmed upon receipt of payment.)

Idkit aka Ana