Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Legislatures' Role is to oversee War Spending

"Vice President Dick Cheney said in Birmingham on Monday that the Democratic-controlled Congress must learn there is only one commander in chief, and he lives in the White House. "

Long before the American Declaration of Independence - the British Parliament had fought its most important battle with the King. At the heart of the struggle between Parliament and the monarch in the first half of the seventeenth century - was the issue of funding for war. Charles I tried to ignore Parliament, and eventually declared war on it! The result was the English Civil War.

While the monarchy was eventually invited to return - the principle was established that while the Monarch is the Commander in Chief (as the Queen still is) - and the decision to go to war is a matter of the Royal Prerogative - it was parliament's right to fund, or not to fund, a war.

What would the founding fathers have made of Vice-President's Cheney's outburst? They clearly gave Congress the right to declare war; they gave Congress control of the purse strings. They knew their parliamentary history - surely they didn't expect the President to have the right that even the English King had been stripped of.

What do you think? Your comments are appreciated.