Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court….
– United States Constitution, Article III, section 3
Inviting a hostile head of state to challenge the U.S. President from the shelter of the U.S. Congress may not rise to the level of “levying war” in the literal sense. But it is surely an act of virtual war that recklessly raises the stakes of drawing the U.S. into more actual wars from Gaza to Iran.
Lacking any lawful authority to conduct foreign policy, Rep. John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress in direct opposition to the American president. This kind of vigilante foreign policy is tantamount to a declaration of war on the constitutional authority of the executive branch. It is also a deliberate effort to destroy the possibility of peaceful relations with Iran, in the midst of serious negotiation headed toward normalization. Defending the U.S. against the threat of peace is a traditionally mindless Republican stance. It becomes an obscenity when it is rooted in nothing more substantial than Israeli intransigence.
Here’s the way Boehner failed to explain his interference in the president’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign affairs:
“I did not consult with the White House. The Congress can make this decision on its own. I don’t believe I’m poking anyone in the eye. There is a serious threat that exists in the world, and the president, last night [in the State of the Union], kind of papered over it. And the fact is, is that there needs to be a more serious conversation in America about how serious the threat is from radical Islamic jihadists and the threat posed by Iran.”
First he admits he’s a partisan lone wolf. Then he lies about Congress making a decision, when he made the decision on his own without bringing it close to a vote; he also falsifies Congressional authority in foreign policy. He then either lies about poking anyone in the eye, or admits he’s in denial. Then he jumps to fear-mongering, ignoring the reality that Iran has been engaged in multi-state negotiations for months now. Then he pretends to want a more serious conversation, when he and his colleagues have been crying wolf about the “Iranian bomb” for more than two decades. Then he compounds his lies and fear-mongering by conflating Iran with “radical Islamic jihadists” of the sort Saudi Arabia has been cultivating for more than 40 years. Nice piece of work for a presumed “patriot.”
Is Boehner “adhering to the enemies” of the United States?
Since the Speaker of the House is unlikely to confess to any sort of treason in open court, as he should, the charge of treason against this Ohio Republican and his co-conspirators will be constitutionally tricky to make. But it needs to be made, no matter how belatedly.
Sacrificing our constitution in an effort to turn American troops into Israel’s proxy army looks very much like the moral equivalent of treason.
The case of Republican treason needs to be made now and should have been made long since against the party that has waged metaphorical war against the United States at least since 2009. Granted, the Republican war has not resorted to the kind of military violence meant by “war” in orthodox constitutional construction. But GOP behavior has been war all the same, unrelenting and destructive, against both the president and the very purpose of the constitution as expressed in its preamble. The only “general welfare” consistently supported by Republicans is military. The rest of their agenda is determined by sectarian spite and corruption.
While not literally “levying war,” Boehner and his party come much closer to actually adhering to the enemies of the United States. But wait, does that mean Israel is an “enemy” of the United States? Good question. We hear over and over about the United States being a friend to Israel, but how is that friendship reciprocated? Enemies of the United States have again and again enticed the United States to embrace the tar baby of endless war in the Middle East, with decades of success to show for it. Israel now entices the U.S. again toward war with Iran. When Israel wants what our enemies want, what does that make Israel? Not much of a friend.
Let’s put it another way: what other head of state from anywhere in the world would be invited to come before Congress to promote intransigence and bellicosity, in direct opposition to White House’s policy? Boehner may not be adhering to our enemies, but he’s certainly adhering to an extreme and dangerous foreign policy that many of our enemies would enjoy watching us suffer.
Is Boehner “giving aid and comfort” to our enemies?
Boehner-Netanyahu hardline policies may give pause to an Iranian government, but not in a way useful to the rest of the world. Boehner-Netanyahu policies are designed to kill negotiation, kill accommodation, and if need be kill peace. There is no greater good at the end of the Boehner-Netanyahu just-say-no road. What Boehner-Netanyahu-ism wants, at a minimum, is permanent, unremediated hostility punctuated by bursts of bloodshed.
Other nations who wish the United States no good can watch the “indispensible nation” dispense itself in further futility while they enjoy their schadenfreude from a safe, noncombatant distance. Watching the United States bleed in another misbegotten crusade will almost surely give our enemies, if not aid, then considerable comfort at least.
Boehner’s traitorous embrace of Netanyahu’s assault on American governance is a betrayal of trust, whether they realize it or not, against all Americans. Boehner has launched another Republican attack on a fundamental constitutional principle – but we can count on Democrats to be brightly up in arms about it, right? No, the silence is deafening, the defense of the constitution nil.
Referring to Netanyahu’s appearance before Congress, the most that Rep. Nancy Pelosi had to say was: “I just don’t think it’s appropriate and helpful.” Others in her party are saying less or nothing.
Why is the U.S. Congress failing to defend a basic principle of the U.S. Constitution? The key, perhaps, lies in what Pelosi said in 2010, when she was still speaker of the house:
“We in Congress stand by Israel, something we have a joint bipartisan commitment. No separation between us on this subject. In Congress we speak with one voice on the subject of Israel. Together we remain committed to advancing the peace process, preserving Israel’s security, responsible sanctions against Iran, working to finalize Iran sanctions bill right now.”
So the constitution is wrong about our bi-cameral system. We don’t have a Congress comprising the Senate and the House, we have some other country’s Knesset.
It’s not enough to suggest that the Boehner-Netanyahu challenge to U.S. sovereignty is inappropriate or unhelpful. Someone should be saying it’s provocative, outrageous, dishonest, and warmongering. Anyone?
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