George W. Bush is the imperial president that James Madison and other founders of this great republic warned us about. He lied the nation into precisely the "foreign entanglements" that George Washington feared would destroy the experiment in representative government, and he has championed a spurious notion of security over individual liberty, thus eschewing the alarms of Thomas Jefferson as to the deprivation of the inalienable rights of free citizens. But most important, he has used the sledgehammer of war to obliterate the separation of powers that James Madison enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
[...] "The separation of the power of raising armies from the power of commanding them is intended to prevent the raising of armies for the sake of commanding them."
That last sentence perfectly describes the threat of what President Dwight Eisenhower, 165 years later, would describe as the "military-industrial complex," a permanent war economy feeding off a permanent state of insecurity. The collapse of the Soviet Union deprived the military profiteers and their handsomely rewarded cheerleaders in the government of a raison d’être for the massive war economy supposedly created in response to it. Fortunately for them, Bush found in the 9/11 attack an excuse to make war even more profitable and longer lasting. The Iraq war, which the president’s 9/11 Commission concluded never had anything to do with the terrorist assault, nonetheless has transferred many hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars into the military economy. And when Congress seeks to exercise its power to control the budget, this president asserts that this will not govern his conduct of the war.
The problem is that the "state of war" in question here was an al-Qaida attack on the U.S. that had nothing whatsoever to do with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Perhaps to spare Congress the embarrassment of formally declaring war against a nation that had not attacked America, Bush settled for a loosely worded resolution supporting his use of military power if Iraq failed to comply with U.N. mandates. This was justified by the White House as a means of strengthening the United Nations in holding Iraq accountable for its WMD arsenal, but as most of the world looked on in dismay, Bush invaded Iraq after U.N. inspectors on the ground discovered that Iraq had no WMD.
Bush betrayed Congress, which in turn betrayed the American people - just as Madison feared when he wrote: "Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it compromises and develops the germ of every other."
I wish that germ in the White House had never been developed.