Essay: Disagreed: "In Matters of Foreign

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Disagreed: "In matters of foreign affairs, the American constitution does more harm than good."

One of the fundamental and overwhelming roles of America and the American government is to engage in peaceful relations, if at all possible with the 200 countries all over the world: the constitution is what has guided and what continues to guide the nation in how they interact with other nations and how they engage with authority over their territories. "It is designed to further certain goals. It seeks to assure America's security and defense. It seeks the power to protect and project America's national interests around the world. National interest shapes foreign policy and covers a wide range of political, economic, military, ideological, and humanitarian concerns" (crf-usa.org, 2013). In foreign affairs, while the U.S. Constitution is not always perfect, it generally finds a way to engage in more good than harm.

One of the overwhelming ways in which the U.S. Constitution has engaged in a tremendous amount of good has been via the way the constitution adapts and tweaks itself to the changing times. This is really important, as it means that the constitution is more of a living document and it is reflecting the evolving needs of the people and the world. For example, just after the great revolutionary war, the prime national interest of the nation was to preserve its independence: this was a real threat at this time, as England was not the only nation in Europe which had the power to overcome the fledgling new America. For the new nation at this time, the Atlantic Ocean was a barrier and protector, and the most overwhelming foreign policy was represented largely by the Monroe Doctrine as a means of limiting European efforts to further colonize this nation in the Western hemisphere (crf-usa.org, 2013). One can clearly see the necessity of change and adaptability present in the constitution and with it, foreign policy if one contemplates how backwards and unnecessary it would seem and feel if America's foreign policy was still guided today by the principles of defense to prevent foreign colonization. Such guidance would be absolutely ludicrous; thus this is a shining example of the absolute necessity in harnessing the power of change and elasticity when negotiating foreign policy, as guided by the constitution.

Power of the Elastic Clause

For example, the elastic clause, is also known as the "Necessary and Proper Clause" and it is responsible for expanding and contracting the powers of congress: this clause states that Congress has a certain power such as collecting taxes, providing for defense, establishing post offices, and promoting science and to declare war. It is in the final provision of this section where one can find the elastic clause as it states: "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof" (Butler, 2013).

Not long after the constitution convention, the elastic clause became the focus point of criticism, based on the overwhelming fear and concern that it would give Congress too much power, causing it to be a menace to individual liberty. "In Federalist No. 44, James Madison argues that without the clause, the U.S. Constitution would be a 'dead letter.' Because it would have been futile to try to list all necessary and proper powers or to attempt to list all powers that should be expressly forbidden, it is very important, according to Madison, to take into account all of the nation's future concerns as deemed necessary and proper for the times" (Butler, 2013). Furthermore, as Madison points out, any danger of Congress having too much power is of course alleviated by the obvious system of checks and balances and the power of checks of the two other systems of government.

The elastic clause is part of what makes the America's foreign policy and behavior in foreign affairs as effective and meaningful as it can be. It keeps America's foreign policy more relevant and appropriate for the times. History thrives with examples of how domestically the elastic clause has been beneficial. For example in early 1800 McCulloch v. Maryland caused one of the Supreme Court Justices to decide that the power in establishing a national bank could be implied or found within the elastic clause in granting Congress the right to engage in taxing or limiting powers (Butler, 2013). In fact, the elastic clause continues to be used as recently as today with Chief Justice John Roberts leaning heavily on the Elastic Clause in testing Obamacare legislation: "Even if the individual mandate is 'necessary' to the Affordable Care Act's other reforms, such an expansion of federal power is not a 'proper' means for making those reforms effective" (Butler, 2013). Thus, given the expansive and contracting ability of the elastic clause and Congress, it's clear how the elastic clause can have a strong impact on how we engage with other nations.

For the Good of the Nation

While naysayers will assert that both presidential powers and congressional powers in matters of foreign policy are eroding the constitution this really isn't accurate. Take the blunt commentary of one critic: "Start with the most glaring change -- freedom of the press. Let's face it, the reason we're so worried about modern-day terrorists is the notion of the 'dirty bomb.' The idea that a terrorist can have a suitcase full of nuclear material and detonate it somewhere here in the states is what has fueled a ton of the paranoia that drives The War on Terror. But nuclear panic drove the Cold War too. In the process of both "Wars" leaks of important "national security"-sensitive data were pursued ruthlessly" (Schlarmann, 2012). Essentially what this journalist is arguing is that Presidential power usurps the Bill of Rights itemized in the constitution in the name of bombing other countries and that Americans and the Press are having their freedoms infringed upon, in the name of doing so. This simply isn't accurate. If one looks at one of the darkest aspects of the past, a time when the executive branch really had to seize as much power as possible and work using a guidepost of what they genuinely believed to be right, this was a time when the system of checks and balances was working in favor of the American people: seen clearly in the instance of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War Two. In these modern times, those bombings were viewed as simply horrendous acts of U.S. aggression as U.S. engaged in grotesque forms of foreign policy, without even stopping to consider the interests of others or the needs of humanity.

Harry S. Truman, empowered by the authority granted to him by the U.S. Constitution was able to act with such aggression in order to protect the lives of American. The use of the atomic bomb, now seen today's by many as horrendous savagery, was actually in many respects, a courageous move to simply protect American lives: "As Truman took office, military planners anticipated that total victory would require an Allied invasion of Japan. The invasion would likely prolong the war for at least another year and cost, by one estimate, over 200,000 American casualties" (Millercenter.org, 2012). This was no small number: it meant that almost a quarter of a million Americans would be dead, leaving behind wives and children and families. It meant that the entire national consciousness would continue to be strained by this work and the unabating pounding, stress, tension and worry that it caused the entire nation.

Furthermore, America had already defeated the forces in Europe; Hitler had already committed suicide. The nation and the rest of the world was ready to move on to peace time. The constitution is the legal and official document which grants the president power to not only rule over nation (with the help of the judicial and legislative branch) but also to act as Commander and Chief of the armed forces. This is an official power that is granted and vested within the United States Constitution. It is no small detail.

Thus, Harry S. Truman, in making the decision to not hand over more lives to engage in an invasion of Japan and combat with the Japanese, was acting as commander and chief of the armed forces and was effectively choosing the importance of American lives over all else. In a radio address to the nation in 1945, Truman stated, "The British, Chinese, and United States Governments have given the Japanese people adequate warning of what is in store for them. We have laid down the general terms on which they can surrender. Our warning went unheeded; our terms were rejected. Since then the Japanese have seen what our atomic bomb can do. They can foresee what it will do in the future. The world will note that the first atomic bomb was… [END OF PREVIEW]

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