War Powers Act needs fixing, bipartisan panel says
Notice the caption under the picture there - "James Baker, left, and Warren Christopher led a panel that recommended a new War Powers Act." Why is James Baker presenting a proposal to change the War Powers Act?
The existing law, the War Powers Resolution of 1973... requires presidents to report regularly to Congress about ongoing conflicts, but the provision has been flouted.In other words, instead of actually enforcing an existing law (for once), we should just make a new one. Just for Bush.
"No president has ever made a submission to Congress pursuant to the War Powers Resolution since 1973," former Sen. Slade Gorton, a Republican member of the committee, said Tuesday.
...a new law should be created requiring the president to consult with key members of Congress before sending troops into combat expected to last more than a week, or within three days of doing so in the case of operations that need to be kept secret.Now I'm wondering why James Baker? On the surface, it appears this a slap in the face by yet another Bush loyalist. Jackson Williams uses the "punch in the nose" metaphor. But I don't see it that way. For one thing, Baker is too much of a hard core loyalist. Besides, he has a vested interest in his boy's ability to continue unilateral activities in the Middle East. Baker Botts LLP is a law firm specializing in negotiating oil and gas contracts in the Caspian Sea region. This article discusses the history of the BTC (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan) pipeline project, which would apparently go across Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Black Sea.
Congress, in turn, would have to declare war or vote on a "resolution of approval" within 30 days, they said.
If a resolution of approval failed, any member of Congress could introduce a "resolution of disapproval," but it was not clear that such an act would stop a war in progress.
Here, Baker Botts' connection to James Baker III (yes, the former secretary of state, who is a Baker Botts partner and great-grandson of its founder) was an obvious asset. Baker had been a key player in the region while serving in the first Bush administration, working closely with former Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze (now president of Georgia), following the Soviet Union's demise.While the Caspian Sea region is rich in oil and gas, it's essentially land locked, so they have to find a way to get the goods to market. Before the collapse of Enron, one of their biggest projects was suffering for that very reason. Context of 'June 2001: Enron Shuts Down Expensive Indian Plant After Afghan Pipeline Fails to Materialize' gives a very interesting timeline of events in the demise of this project (which seem to parallel the demise of the company itself).
Now, if you look at this map (the page has an iPaper map of the Middle East), you'll see the Caspian Sea dominating the northern part. The BTC pipeline would go west from the Caspian to the Black Sea. The Enron pipeline for the Dabhol plant would have had to go east through Turkenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in order to get to India. No wonder it failed. But if you look, there is a straight line shot from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf - right through the middle of Iran. Oh, but that's right. Iran doesn't like us, which is why Baker's previous pipeline projects have had to travel east and west instead of south through Iran.
So, what does all this have to do with the War Powers Act proposal? If you remember, as early as February of 2007, Representative John Conyers threatened impeachment if Bush attacked Iran. This new idea proposed by Baker would pull the rug out from underneath Conyers and Kucinich.
Quite simply, if this act/law/idea passes, W could (again) preemptively attack or even invade yet another country - legally (with this brand new law spelling out exactly how he's supposed to operate) and for reasons that he wouldn't have to explain (because he won't have to ask permission if he has to keep it a secret), and then turn around and tell Congress to approve the actions he just did. And if Congress issued a "resolution of disapproval"? Well I guess we'll just take the bullets and bombs back and say we're sorry. Whatever.