Ron Paul vs. James Baker on Revised War Powers Act

Note the presence of the brilliant Daniel McAdams backing up Dr. Paul and the ungentlemanly belligerence of Baker.

Note also that Baker’s argument rests on the premise that the constitution is dead and that without the War Powers Act, or his new replacement for it, there would be no restriction on presidential war making whatsoever – Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution, among others, notwithstanding.

Paul is right, as usual. The War Powers Act – which “allows” the president to start wars for 60 days before Congress can assemble to swing their rubber stamp and “support the troops” – should be repealed and replaced with nothing but the perpetual threat of impeachment.

Baker’s plan is no substitute for an actual rule of law. (Ha.)

(Cross-posted at Stress.)

Author: Scott Horton

Scott Horton is editorial director of, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from He’s the author of the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan and editor of The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019. He’s conducted more than 5,000 interviews since 2003. Scott lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, investigative reporter Larisa Alexandrovna Horton. He is a fan of, but no relation to the lawyer from Harper’s. Scott’s Twitter, YouTube, Patreon.

25 thoughts on “Ron Paul vs. James Baker on Revised War Powers Act”

  1. James Baker the war criminal knows exactly how this works. He sent me and my fellow soldiers out to do his dirty work in Panama. The excuse for the war was pathetic, based on lies about agression, UN mandates, and Canal Zone treaties. It was still not constitutional so they did the whole 60 day war emergency BS. When the 60 days was up (actually before that) they claimed victory and changed the name of the operation from Operation Just Cause to Operation Premote Liberty. I learned after I got back 6 Months later that the media was lying to the public about this invasion from start to finish. It had to start for “the safety of Americans, and then had to continue to Liberate the Panamanians”. The Congress sat back and did nothing as usuall and the American sheeple either knew nothing about it, didn’t care, or supported the lies.

    Does any of this sound familiar? In many ways the invasion of Panama was a dry run for all our wars that followed. Not only did they get to try out their fancy new toys like the stealth bombers, but they got to see how the US media, US public, international community and congress would react.

    Check out this audio clip from James Baker claiming the right to invade without Congressional authority.

    This behaviour will not end untill the sheeple wake up. Lets face the facts, the media, congress and the international community is complicent is these wars of agression. They will not help put and end to it ever. It’s trully up to us the People of these United States of America to save our nation. Bringing back the constitution is the first step. Holding our “rulers” accountable when they ignore the constitution needs to start now.


    1. They should have called it Operation Just Because( ..we can).

      But you need to remember it was not the first or the last time this happened.

      Remember Lebanon? Grenada? The “secret” war against Nicaragua.

      Then there was involvement in Africa in places such as Angola and Libya(and later Somalia). I also have doubts that the Special Forces style raids conducted against Libyan border posts from Chad were Chadian Tribal Militants as is claimed today. Plus numerous operations in Central Asia and the Middle East in Pakistan(against the Soviet Union) and against Iran.

      1. That’s funny we did call it Just Because. I do remember Grenada also I had friends that served during that illegan invasion as well as friends that were in what was called operation Golden Pheasant that went down in Honduras. There have been many many other raids that have never made the press. My main area of operations was South America and there were tons of times we crossed borders. I had friends that were on the Specter Gunships and they were always out on some secret crap. Your right it’s war without end anywhere and anytime.

        It’s got to end but how?


        1. Getting rid of all the Jim Bakers would be a start. The guy spoke to a US Congressman in a tone like “nobody asked your opinion”! Just for that he deserves a run-in with some nasty characters in a dark alley.

        2. What with the naming of US wars and military operations as if they were Hollywood productions or movies?”Golden Pheasant”?

        3. I guess they think it will sound like the opposite of what it should be called. I wonder how many people have the job of sitting around comeing up with this BS. Do they have another group that looks it over or do they just take a few polls first? I guess Yellow Bellied War Hawk didn’t fly.

        4. Or Operation Chicken Hawk.

          Well what kind of positive public reaction would they get from:

          Operation Expanding Empire
          Operation Desert Land Grab
          Operation Enduring Tyranny
          Operation Black Gold

          Invasions have to be appealing(“feel good”) to the American public. And they can’t spell OIL like an Operation Iraqi Liberation would have.

          Like from the “Simpsons” movie where “Operation Soaring Eagle” involved massacring the animated American citizens in the fictional city of Springfield.

        5. As a matter of fact they WERE going to call the conquest, er, “liberation” of Iraq “Operation Iraqi Liberation”, until they realized the acronyms O.I.L. were just too obvious and might not fool even the dull-witted American sheeple.

    2. Isn’t this the same James Baker that made sure that the US got its war in the Gulf warI by lying and refuse Sadam’s offer of withdral instead upeted for carnage and mayhams?

  2. …”and the American sheeple ” celebrated it!

    Do not About the threats that supper power Greneda posed to the US.

    1. I haven’t forget that mess either. Friends I served with were there and told me about the mess we made over there. I also had a cousin who was there in med school at the time. He said it was a true atrocity.


  3. Brilliant evasion by Baker on Rep. Paul’s bottom-line analysis that this legislation will result, most probably, in the Executive branch and 1/3 of the Congress having the ability to make and sustain war: “…you’re just on the losing side.” Baker’s comment is an appeal to popularity; it’s a fallacy. Ron Paul’s basic argument is this: let this Congress not give war-making authority away to the Executive, for several reasons. Ron Paul’s basic critique of this currently proposed legislation as indicated in this clip is: This bill if law would give war-making authority away to the president and it would not be retrievable unless a veto-proof 2/3’s of Congress were to later vote against the president’s action; hence, in sum, it would only require 1/3 of the Congress would have the authority to maintain the war –a net give-away of executive power. That point, that the bill would put into effect a net give-away of Congressional power, is Congressman Paul’s question, however inarticulately put. Baker’s response, essentially, is to ignore the point in favor of an appeal to misplaced popularity. Baker’s saying, “So what, if it were so bad you could just get it overturned.” This “so what” argument, as attractive as it might sound, ignores the response that Paul might have made: “So you agree this bill cedes power to the Executive branch.” Had he said that, then he could have gotten back the presumption and asked, “Ok, why should Congress cede such power?”

    1. The congress is currently enjoying the ability to go to war without having to vote for it. This is what they want. If they didn’t they would hold the executive acountable. They don’t do that because they are actually pro war. This just allows them to have war without needing to put it on record that they are for it.


      1. And the solution to this problem would be requiring that Congressmen below the age of 65 serve in the Military for a limited time period(3-6 months) during their term if there is an active conflict at the time.

        The Roman Senators could be sent into Military service during wartime.

        Plus there should be a requirement that family members of Congressmen would be conscripted into Military service during a conflict.

        This would cool their heads about starting wars in which their children or grandchildren could be killed.

  4. So the USA Today column by Baker and Warren Christopher on their revised War Powers Act is what decades of political insight boil down to: a load of fresh, green, pig manure. “Since our nation was founded” our leaders and scholars have debated which government branch decides on going to war. What hogwash. There was practically no serious debate on the matter until well into the 20th century.

    After Congress consulted with the president over a declaration of war it could vote, “making its views clearly known.” Does this mean Congress’s vote would be merely advisory?

    Dumb and Dumber further argue that only a Supreme Court decision or a constitutional amendment could decide which branch has valid claims to the warmaking power. Hoo boy. Has either of these solons ever bothered to read the Constitution or any commentary on it? And with a proud flourish, Beavis and Butthead boast that “we crafted our proposal so that it does not favor one branch over the other.” There you go. Wipe your hoofprints on the Constitution, play the ignorant jackass, and then oh so very diplomatically and objectively steer an unbiased path between the two equally worthy government branches. How we Americans ever got into the habit of grovelling before this pack of knaves is beyond me.

    1. If the United States maintained a policy of Self Defense on its own territory then “deciding on going to war” would not be difficult, if the US is attacked then the US Military retaliates against the Aggressor and Congress votes to declare war on the Aggressor and the Executive branch and the Defense Department are giving powers to plan and execute the war.

      But the problem is the United States since the late 19th Century is an Empire, and I think many here realize that. Empires don’t normally wage a defensive war. Empires wage wars of Expansion and Conquest, and this has been true of the US since the US Military became involved in the Spanish-American War, the “conquest” of Hawaii, and the seizure of “American” Samoa islands.

      Expanding Empires need unregulated powers to wage war against their victims. Those connected this kind of policy, like Mr. Baker, promote such unregulated powers because they will benefit from them. If Mr. Baker was forced to serve in the most dangerous regions of a conflict he would not be such a great supporter of war.

      1. Absolutely true. I would argue that ALL wars since at least the civil war were wars of agression that could have been avoided and benefitted ordinary Americans not at all. Even the civil war may have been avoidable. As far as WW2 the so-called “good” war it cannot be shown that America’s intervention saved many Jewish lives and the USSR would have defeated Germany all by itself. (See the book No clear and present danger). In any case if America had just stayed out of the Great war there would have been no Versailles peace treaty and no WW2.

  5. Gore Vidal said once re congress, “they have been bought”…….consider the trillions made in this Banking, Oil & war “racket”? I would bet they already “own” the press boys (with equity & LOANS) and then possibly, to “support” (or bribe?) the congressmen ON BOTH SIDES, say how much?…..say 200 milliion? Relativly speaking, that would be peanuts. That is $200,000,000 compared to 2 trillion (read $2,000,000,000,000)…what is it 1/10 of 1%?

    1. Bill, our math is wrong. It is more trivial than you suspect. $200 Million is 1/100 of 1% of $2 Trillion, not 1/10 of 1%..

  6. Why don’t we, those that are awake, realize that the Constitution is a dead letter? Do any of us that come to this site, and others like it, believe that the Constitution will protect us? I hope not, because it won’t, and we need to realize that we are living in, and participating in, a monumental fraud. These criminals will have their wars regardless of what we, or anyone else, think. They manipulate the sheeple, and when that doesn’t work, they do what they want anyway. Look at what they have done to the economy, and the morons still consider themselves “conservatives” and “progressives” instead of screwed! We are surrounded by stupid people that are the enablers of the rulers. The multi million dollar paid “newspeople” do the dirty work. That’s why they make that kind of money! Duh! Propaganda ain’t cheap. The middle class will be gone in a year. Read Gerald Celente. He’s been pointing to this for years, and I don’t ever remember him being wrong. We are all screwed now! Want more proof? Remember when our rulers gave us the new bankruptcy bill? They said it was to catch the deadbeats. Let’s see — employers can steal your pension, but you can’t discharge anything UNDER $300,000. Looks like we’re headed for a 21st century form of indentured servitude. Oh, and where’s the cartel/monopoly of the legal racket? Not making any waves on this one, are they?

    1. The Constitution won’t be well and truly dead unless and until officials whose violation of their oaths of office are clearly pointed out to the public remain in office. That is to say, unless and until there aren’t enough people left among the ranks of voters to toss out rascals when they are identified. I know that a lot of the later get away with a lot of constitutional crime, but there have been successful recalls and impeachments, even lately, so while the Constitution may be on life support, it isn’t gone yet. We can revive it by holding to the fire the feet of politicians-as-usual. My suggestion is to start by kicking out all incumbents (especially anyone who voted for PATRIOT or the Bail Out) and replacing them NOT with their major-party opponents, but with independents or members of third parties who show evidence of having read the Constitution and who already pledge to preserve, protect, and defend it. This is extreme, strong medicine, to be sure, but sometimes you simply have to cut out the disease and cauterize the wound: the consequences of previous mischief are VERY extreme, and we need to use similarly drastic measures to fix the problem and prevent a repeat. If we could flush the incumbents for the next two or three elections, we could leave the Constitution with some very good prospects.

  7. James Baker is a member in good standing of the Washington Establishment. Protecting the Establishment–sucking up to the Establishment!–is what he does. He ignores the fact that the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war.

    If the President wants to go to war with somebody, let him be man enough to go before Congress and lay out his case. If Congress agrees, they can declare war.

    Piss on the War Powers Act. Repeal the Goddamn thing, and let’s get back to first principles, shall we?

  8. I hate how Baker totally ignores the point of Dr. Paul about how the President can Veto the vote against the war. What a war mongering moron.

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