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Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein joins forces with Ralph as we devote the entire radio hour to discussing war powers in the United States with Yale historian, Samuel Moyn, author of “Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War.”

Samuel Moyn is an author, Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School, and a professor of history at Yale University. His books include The Last Utopia: Human Rights in HistoryNot Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World, and Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War.

 

 

 

I’m with people who say that the very phrase “humane war” is an oxymoron. War is brutal, no matter what.

Samuel Moyn, author of Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War

 

When Barack Obama responded to the stink that arose around the early war on terror [and illegal treatment of prisoners under George W. Bush], he did so by not capturing anyone. And killing them instead. But he also came out and promised that he would obey the rules.

Samuel Moyn, author of Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War

 

If you stop war from starting, you stop war crimes from happening. But the reverse isn’t true.

Samuel Moyn, author of Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War

 

If we stick to the noble agenda of denouncing war crimes and exposing the ongoing violence, in a sense we’re playing into the dynamic that I’m talking about. Because the state could respond by editing out more and more brutality, while keeping the wars going.

Samuel Moyn, author of Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War

 

You can rest content in the belief that the Constitution or some other set of laws prohibits empire. But the truth, I think… is that a law is a tool of empire. And law adjusts to imperial imperatives.

Samuel Moyn, author of Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War

The concern is the massive, systemic lawlessness that Congress has allowed to happen. Whether by abdication, whether by complicity, whether by unaccountable appropriations to the executive branch, and whether by jettisoning its impeachment authority.

Ralph Nader

Bruce Fein is a Constitutional scholar, who previously appeared on this program in 2019 to outline thirteen articles of impeachment for President Trump, and October 2020 to outline fourteen reasons President Trump was a “clear and present danger” and should be removed from office. Mr. Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan and he is the author of Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy, and American Empire: Before the Fall.

 

The reason for [assigning the power to declare war to Congress rather than the President] was that the framers, deducing from all of historical experience, understood that the executive branch is inherently kinetic… [Since Korea] the overarching impulse has been– if you’re an empire, you need a Caesar. You need unity of command. So the Constitution gives way.

Bruce Fein

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 396 Transcript (Right click to download)

3 Comments

  1. Thank you Professor Samuel Moyn for your research and expertise on the perennial yet necessarily archaic inhumanity that is war. Thanks also for your provocative oxymoron that is the idea of the “humane war,” which is possible only as a legal response to aggression, to illegal invasion, destruction, killing, and occupation. Yet, the illegal aggressor as the dominant role makes war essentially inhumane; thus, the essence of war is man’s inhumanity, man’s inability to act rationally; predators in the wild have not a fraction of the irrational greed and bloodlust of the warmonger.
    Professor, where were you just after the tragedy of 9/11? Did you not see the outpouring of peace and antiwar people in the streets nationwide, especially in D.C., in the halls and hearing rooms of Congress, and in the street internationally? Didn’t you hear Ralph Nader and a few other public figures clarion call for international police action to capture Al Qaeda? Didn’t you notice how during the lead up to the oil oligarch’s second invasion of Iraq with then hapless military the outcry of protest in the streets of major international cities–did slow the steady, premeditated inhumane murder of innocent Iraqis?
    Medea Benjamin (love you sister) and Code Pink still deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, for what little meaning the honor now has in light of it having not been revoked from Obama. Attorney General Ramsey Clark deserves the Nobel Peace tribute for his decades of work and his founding of the international peace action org: ANSWER Act Now to Stop War and Racism. Noam Chomsky deserves it for his 2005 book –alone– Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance. Heck yeah, Ralph ought to have an NPP for helping Al Gore lose in 2k (if indeed Ralph helped Al lose more the Al did). Just think if another Democrat had led us into a war without end and our shamelessly inhumane war for oil in Iraq. Gore was suckling at the teat of Occidental Petroleum–of the Columbian oil scandal in which the indigenous tribe the U’wa/Tunebo threatened mass suicide rather than face the destruction of their land and people–for his 2k campaign cash.

    Thank you Professor Moyn for your research and expertise on the perennial yet necessarily archaic inhumanity that is war. Thanks also for your provocative oxymoron that is the idea of the “humane war,” which is possible only as a legal response to aggression, to illegal invasion, destruction, killing, and occupation. Yet, the illegal aggressor as the dominant role makes war essentially inhumane; thus, the essence of war is man’s inhumanity, man’s inability to act rationally; predators in the wild have not a fraction of the irrational greed and bloodlust of the warmonger.

    Professor, where were you just after the tragedy of 9/11? Did you not see the outpouring of peace and antiwar people in the streets nationwide, especially in D.C., in the halls and hearing rooms of Congress, and in the street internationally? Didn’t you hear Ralph Nader and a few other public figures clarion call for international police action to capture Al Qaeda? Didn’t you notice how during the lead up to the oil oligarch’s second invasion of Iraq with then hapless military the outcry of protest in the streets of major international cities–did slow the steady, premeditated inhumane murder of innocent Iraqis? Now the anit-war movement is co-opted by the same folks who raced into it–clamoring loudly for in the early 2000s.

    Medea Benjamin (love you sister) and Code Pink still deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, for what little meaning the honor now has in light of it having not been revoked from Obama (she did receive the Gandhi Peace Award). Attorney General Ramsey Clark deserves the Nobel Peace tribute for his decades of work and his founding of the international peace action org: ANSWER Act Now to Stop War and Racism. Noam Chomsky deserves it for his 2005 book –alone– Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance. Heck yeah, Ralph ought to have an NPP for helping Al Gore lose in 2k, if indeed Ralph helped Al lose more the Al did. Just think if a post-LBJ Democrat had led us into a war without end and our shamelessly inhumane war for oil in Iraq. Gore was suckling at the teat of Occidental Petroleum–of the Columbian oil scandal in which the indigenous tribe the U’wa/Tunebo threatened mass suicide rather than face the destruction of their land and people–for his 2k campaign cash.

    Imperialist war is the quintessential inhumane structure from which erupts all other ills of inhumanity against the humane, against justice, and the unifying. Therefore, CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES–on both aisles–you must stop feeding at the trough of the warmongering oligarchy.
    Imperialist war is the quintessential inhumane structure from which erupts all other ills of inhumanity against the humane, the just, and the unifying. CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES–you must deconstruct the war machinery–transform it into plows, playgrounds, and parks if we are serious about survival. CONGRESS of the USA, do your job, your most important work–for the people not the mass-murderers of the people scared to death and reproducing like rabbits. Refuse illegal war. Refuse illegal war. Thank you former First Lieutenant Ehren Keoni Watada for your timely refusal to fight gangland warfare.

  2. David Faubion says:

    Thank you Ralph for putting the U. S. foreign policy of war into your growing list of consumer rights and safety issues. The U. S. imperial wars and our illegal assaults in which taxpayers spend tens of trillions of dollars–have killed many thousands of middle-class in NYC, and hundreds of thousands of working-class poverty draft soldiers. And this is not to mention the millions of foreign nationals–which means blowback. Blowback means that our wars make everyone less safe, not to mention the outsized impact that our deployments have upon the global climate disasters.

  3. killed in war ? how about deaths from food contaminatment & hunger caused by war as well as no agriculture because of war and unexploded munitions killing as much as 40 or more years after they were fired or dropped or deposited even today in the vietnam war area there will be casualities fro that war’s aftermath so this is nonsense cost of war? land no longer agriculturally product because of contamination from war activities. causing hebnger death and perminant crippling is not included in sost of war ! When America starts to pay for their wars 6 america’s GDP couldn’t pay for it!
    so it would seem America must keep making war to keep fro paying for the afects of the wzars they have perped on the world these last 90 or more years!

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