Oct 9, 2021 • 1HR 11M

Humane War?

 
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Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader talks about what’s happening in America, what’s happening around the world, and most importantly what’s happening underneath it all.
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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

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