Thursday, May 29, 2008

only executives that we like are unitary

earlier today kevin drum's guest poster eric martin wrote about the bush administration's push to get a treaty for permanent bases in iraq by this summer. the post starts with this paragraph:
The most prominent remaining goal of the Bush administration with respect to its Iraq policy is to secure a long term treaty that would allow for a continued presence of US troops in that country for the foreseeable future and, presumably, tie the hands of the incoming administration (or at least create a heavy presumption in favor of consistency) with respect to such matters.
let's assume that martin's premise is correct, that the bush administration wants to complete the treaty to "tie the hands" of his successor to make sure the u.s. stays in iraq. given the bush administration's stance on executive power, how could he believe that a treaty would tie any future president's hands? this is a president that has "unsigned" treaties by fiat and has even used an executive order to unilaterally withdraw from a treaty that had been ratified by congress. (despite a two century old assumption that a ratified treaty could only be canceled if "unratified" by a subsequent act of congress).

given bush's position that the president can "unsign" or "withdraw" from any treaty at will with no check on that power, why would he think that a treaty with iraq authorizing permanent bases there would limit his successor at all? from bush's standpoint, i don't see how a treaty would tie anyone's hands or create any presumption against withdrawal. especially when we consider that the chances that both congress or the iraqi parliament ratifying such a thing is practically nil.