Rand Paul Rips Romney for Saying He Could Fight Iran Without Congress

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Though he has endorsed the presumptive GOP nominee, the senator took to National Review Online to assert Congress's role in declaring war.

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After Senator Rand Paul endorsed Mitt Romney, he got grief from a lot of his libertarian supporters, especially after the GOP nominee stated that the president can wage war on Iran without Congressional approval. Anyone wondering how Sen. Paul would react, as I've been doing, need wait no longer. In a piece published Tuesday afternoon at National Review Online, he reiterated his dissatisfaction with President Obama's domestic agenda, and then proceeded to write:

... I must oppose the most recent statements made by Mitt Romney in which he says he, as president, could take us to war unilaterally with Iran, without any approval from Congress.

This is a misreading of the role of the president and Congress in declaring war. The Constitution clearly states that it is Congress that has the power to declare war, not the president. The War Powers Act also clearly states that U.S. forces are to engage in hostilities only if the circumstances are "pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

Absent these criteria, the president has no authority to declare war. Even if the president believes he has such authority, the War Powers Act goes on to require the president to seek congressional approval within 60 days of conflict. No president is above the law or above the Constitution.

Paul criticized the Obama Administration's foreign policy too:

President Obama was elected on a platform of ending wars, yet he has opposed every effort made by me and others in the Senate to do that. He opposed my resolution to end the Iraq War. He has refused my urgings to end the war in Afghanistan more quickly. He started another war in Libya, and this time went further into unconstitutional territory than previous presidents by not even seeking Congressional approval whatsoever. I opposed him when he did that. Anyone who believes President Obama is less aggressive internationally than his predecessors is mistaken. I do not yet know if I will find a Romney presidency more acceptable on foreign policy.

As interesting as the piece itself is its venue, National Review Online's group blog, The Corner, which isn't generally friendly to non-interventionists. The comments beneath the post were as heated as you'd expect.

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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