War Powers Curb Futile Folly The author was a speechwriter for President John F hennedy and now practices law in New York City. By Theodore C. Sorensen Newsday The Senate's most recent failure to enact any binding limitation on our military presence in Indochina, preceded by President Nixon's utter inattentiveness to its views when he reescalated the conflict, illustrates not only the futility but the folly of the so-called "War Powers Curb," bill which' overwhelmingly passed the same Senate in April." Passed with the best of intentions then, the bill deserves no more than a decent burial now. The White House--and several former presidential advisers from both parties--opposed this bill by Sen. Jacob Javits, R-N.Y., and Sen. John C. Stennis, D-Miss.. on the ground that it would curb presiden-' tial power unduly. For the same reason, a drive was undertaken to commit Democratic presidential aspirants to support this legislation. In fact, the bill expands presidential power beyond its constitutional limits. IN ESSENCE, it allows the president to wage war on his own initiative for 30 days, provided he invokes one of the several broad emergency grounds it sets forth. The Congress then must take affirmative action before he can continue. But the authority to wage war for any time at all, brief or prolonged, was deliberately and specifically reserved by the Constitution to the Congress. Nowadays, by the time 30 days has expired, a nuclear war would be over, and even a modern conventional war could have become so intense, that the Congress (as it consistently has in Vietnam) would feel it had no choice but to go along. Loyalty to party, deference to the p r e s i d e n c y , i n v o c a t i o n s o f patriotism and the traditional popularity that a war enjoys in its earliest stages inevitable would produce a majority in each house unwilling to "undercut the boys in the field." The bill even allows the president to continue the use of forces in combat after the 30 days without congressional approval in the case of "unavoidable military necessity" relating to troop protection and withdrawal. And that sounds uncomfortable familiar. Thus the new bill, if enacted, would not have the slightest practical effect. It would not deter any presidential tendencies to shoot from the hip. A president would have no difficulty invoking one of its " e m e r g e n c y " c o n - ditions--undertaking acts of war, for example, on grounds that he had to forestall an imminent threat of an attack on U.S. forces outside the Â· United States (Shades of Vietnam!) or to protect U.S. citizens in another country (Remember the Dominican Republic?). Had this bill been law, it would not have deterred or cut short a single p r e s i d e n t i a l m i l i t a r y i n - itiative--including the attacks on North Vietnam, Cambodia. Laos, the Dominican Republic or the Bay of Pigs, or the sending of the U.S. Enterprise Task Force into the Bay of Bengal. THE BILL'S basic assumption is that the Congress will be less "hawkish" and more restrained than the president in the use of military power. There is nothing iti the sorry, record of congressional votes on resolutions, appropriations and curbs regarding the Vietnam War to bear that out. Not only did the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, for example, pass the Senate by 88-2 in 1964, but an attempt to repeal it at the height of the war in 1966 was defeated 92-5. Were the Congress in charge at that stage, it might well have exercised far less restraint in the attack on Hanoi than President Johnson actually was exercising. Nor does the series of blank-check resolutions of the Tonkin type, that the Congress has been passing for nearly 20 years on Formosa, the Mideast. Berlin and Cuba, offer grounds for any assumption of superior legislative restraint. American presidents, who by the nature of their office are inclined to be less swayed by the popular passions of the moment than are those in the legislative branch, have not on the whole been reckless men or warmongers. On the contrary, during the long history of the United States, the problem has less often been one of presidents taking us into wars that the Congress and country would not initially support, than one of presidents being pushed into battle by war-hawks in the Congress or press. Thus this bill avoids the real question--which is not how to properly authorize war, but how to Changed by the Moon, They Only Look Ahead Bv Paul Recer Mankind accepted the. trip tn the moon, and then simply went on about its business once the marvel passed. Rut for the 10 men irhn made that trip it was and is a soul-bending experience, wanted or unwanted. For all of them, life, adventure, and ambition will never be the same. RETURN TO EARTH Experienced DIFFICULT FOR EDWIN E. ALDRIN JR. Despondency After Apollo 11 Flight HOUSTON--AP-They went to the moon, explored its desolation and the mystery of the heavens beyond. They returned home as changed men. Somehow in that timeless, lifeless land they f o u n d a new u n d e r s t a n d i n g of themselves, their earth and of mankind. Ten men have made that trip and. in one way or another, all have felt it change their lives. For James B. Irwin of Apollo 15, it was a trip that lent "a new appreciation of everything we have on earth." "My whole view of myself, my role in life, my philosophy about myself and mankind has changed immensely," says Edgar D. Mitchell of Apollo 14. " After being to the moon and back, Alan B. Shepard, commander of Apollo 14 and a man who has accumulated considerable wealth on earth, says, "It's awfully hard to ignore the fact that the earth is really a pretty small place after all." And the first man who stepped on the moon, Neil Armstrong of Apollo 11 returned an international hero, feted around the world, turned almost as an artifac to a desk job. Even outside his little hometown in Ohio were signs saying "Wapakoneta, home of Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon." HE QUIETLY LEFT I he astronaut, corps and now tearhes e n g i n e e r i n g at the University of Cincinnati Some were less affected, or chose to be. Apollo 12's Charles Conrad turned his attention back to earth, his home, and to f u t u r e space missions. He is concentrating on the space shuttle which may not fly until the 1980s and is slated to command the first flight of Skylab. the orbiting scientific laboratory due for space next spring. The trip to the moon seems to alter visions of grandeur, ambition, profit. Irwin. and his fellow Apollo 15 a s t r o n a u t s D a v i d Scott a n d A l f r e d Worden, carried 400 unauthorized stamp covers to the moon, the space agency alleges, for a dealer. They were to profit $21.000 from the lunar smuggling, but when they returned from the flight they had a change of heart They admitted their misdeed and were reprimanded. Most of the returned moon walkers, when thinking of their experience, talk more of the earth than of the moon. Their quarter of a million mile journey through space carried them so far from home that the earth appeared, as John Young of Apollo 16 observed, "small enough to cover up with your thumb." To Irwin, earth was "a Christmas tree ornament hanging in space." They talk of the awesome size of the universe, the smallness of earth and of the m a j e s t i c s y m m e t r y of the whole of creation. Irwin view? it a? an nverpowering religious experience, one t h a t he feels compelled to tell others about. THE ASTRONAUT retires from the space corps and the Air Force in August and plans to start a ministry, or. as he calls it., "a witness," of his faith in God that was freshened and made more real by his trip to the moon. "I talk about the beauty of the earth and the different type of beauty of the moon," says Irwin, in explaining his message. "We all came b a c k w i t h new understandings and new perceptions. We are keenly aware of the necessity for a!! men to work together on the planet so it may continue its travel through space peacefully just as we traveled through space." Irwin said the new awareness came over him gradually, after the mission as he grasped all that he had seen and done. "It's made me a warmer, more human person," said Irwin. "I used to be strictly a nuts and bolts type of guy with not a great deal of thought about individuals. Now I've become more of a humanitarian in my outlook." Irwin is forming a foundation to organize and finance his ministry. He said a group of Baptist ministers, including Dr. Billy Graham, have agreed to advise him. There's no name for the foundation as yet, but the astronaut hopes to use "Highflight," the name of a poem about a pilot who, in his ecstasy of flying, felt he "put out his hand and touched the face of God." Mitchell feels nearly the same about his moon mission. "I would say my experience was similar ffffff^ prevent it. By pretending to solve a problem that still needs attention, by giving conscientious presidents a looser interpretation of their constitutional powers than they are entitled to have, by encouraging formal congressional declarations of war which can through treaty commitments on both sides trigger a worldwide conflict, by trying to inhibit a president's ability to move our forces to a major war (as in the Cuban missile quarantine), by authorizing in its emergency clause a preemptive first strike nuclear attack by the president, by spurring rash or reckless presidents to "win" in 30 days, perhaps even by casting doubt on the reliability of the deterrent power on which we rely for peace until disarmament is achieved--in all these ways, the measure originally passed by the Senate might only hasten or intensify future military hostilities. That makes it not merely useless but dangerous. MANY SENATORS no doubt supported it largely as a symbol of protest a n d , indeed, the un- a u t h o r i z e d a n d u n n e c e s s a r y presidential escalation of the war in Vietnam should be protested. But like previous attempts, by Sen. Taft in the 1940s and Sen. Bricker in the 1950s, to crub presidential power in foreign affairs, this bill also symbolizes a recurring spirit of isolationism. It is related to votes in the Congress to kill all foreign aid and to impoverish the United Nations. While going beyond the Con.'titution in the war powers it grants to the president. All this is not to say that no problem exists--a very serious problem does exist. Under present conditions, any president can commit the country to war, contrary to the founding fathers' intent, and Vietnam has shown that this is no theoretical concern. The escalation of that war, particularly its re- escalation after Congress had repealed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, is of questionable constitutional validity. Yet the courts have been unwilling to intervene. But American history does not begin and end with Vietnam; and this war, instead of solving the problem, only worsens it. There is in fact no ready, solution. With or without this bill, presidents will take military action for one or more reasons the bill sanctions when they think the national security so requires. It is up to Congress to exercise its own powers, power, 1 ; that have not been usurped as much as unused: the power to place c o n d i t i o n on, or c u t o f f , appropriations; and the power to investigate and to inform the public. NEIL ARMSTRONG ACCEPTS NEW CHALLENGE Leaves Corps to Teach Engineering \ J u l v J J O , 1972 LURE OF SPACE FASCINATING TO APOLLO 15 COMMANDER DAVID SCOTT Gazing at One of the Lunar Rocks Picked Up During Moon Walk to Jim's, but I cannot possibly USP the words he uses," says Mitchell. "Instead, it's an identification with mankind, with the universe, the concept of oneness with all mankind," Mitchell has also resigned from the astronaut corps and plans to retire this fall. He will also creat an organization, but it will concentrate on the study of psychic phenomenon. The astronaut conducted a test of extrasensory perception during his moon voyage and called it a conditional success. SHORTLY AFTER his mission Mitchell was divorced from his wife and now devotes much of his time to research into psychic phenomenon. He recently claimed that a woman friend was cured of a longtime kidney ailment after contact with a "healer." Mitchell doesn't claim the cure came as a result of the healer, but that "something happened" that should be investigated scientifically. His organization, as yet unnamed and in a state of "delicate negotiations", will investigate such phenomena, he says. Mitchell said his trip to the moon and back has "changed my point of view toward humanities and the need to help people on earth learn to solve their problems in harmony and peace. It's become a very real cn'.sade for me. But I do not identify that with a religious belief, but with a philosophic concept... You can characterize it as a search for truth with a capital T." "I recognize the universe as an orderly, harmonious place," he said. "The intelligence and consciousness of man are part of that." Shepard. the first American in space and the commander of Apollo 14, found his moon mission expanded his awareness. He said it tended to lift his sights beyond the confines of day-to-day life. HE HAS ACHIEVED enough for several careers. Shepard was the first American in space. He has walked the moon. He achieved wealth through investments. And Shepard, who fought in World War II aboard a ship, has become an admiral in the Navy. Such contentment was denied Aldrin, the second man on the moon. He was a single-minded engineer, a master pilot. Shortly after his Apollo 11 flight, Aldrin felt himself sinking into despondency. He told a reporter he felt for the first time a great indecision. He dreaded public appearances and felt listless. The Air Force passed him over for star rank. Aldrin quit the astronaut corps and assumed command of Edwards Air Force Base. But his problem continued and he sought psychiatric help. He has since retired from the Air Force. Now he talks frankly of his illness and Is writing his autobiography, to be entitled "Return to Earth." For Conrad, his Apollo 12 mission to the moon is a thing of the past, a grand memory, but tomorrow is where the excitement lies. The balding, fast-talking astronaut displays only a few momentoes from the flight at his home, although "there are piles of stuff in the attic." He ducks personal appearances when he can and prefers to spend time with his family as he did before instead of "going to some banquet where they're honoring me. Some people don't understand this." Conrad views his experience and his generation of space pilots as only stepping stones for the next generation. "There's some kid out there who's six years old today who's gonna look at me like I looked at aviators like Lindbergh," he said. "He's gonna look at us like I look at the old guys with the silk scarves and goggles whom I still admire." Conrad said he keeps his memories of the flight "off in a pocket separate somewhere." and prefers to move on to the next mission. "I'd rather go back to my neighborhood and be Pete Conrad who just happened to have gone to the moon two and one-half years ago." But from there, he wants to move on to something else.
What members have found on this page
Get access to Newspapers.com
- The largest online newspaper archive
- 8,600+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
- Millions of additional pages added every month