We’ve all heard the Aesop’s Fables of The Hare and the Tortoise, The Ant and the Grasshopper, and The Mouse and the Lion, but have you heard of The Nurse and the Wolf (Photo Credit Milo Winter, 1919)?
“Be quiet now,” said an old Nurse to a child sitting on her lap.
“If you make that noise again I will throw you to the Wolf.”
Now it chanced that a Wolf was passing close under the window as this was said.
So he crouched down by the side of the house and waited.
“I am in good luck to-day,” thought he. “It is sure to cry soon, and a daintier morsel I haven’t had for many a long day.”
So he waited, and he waited, and he waited, till at last the child began to cry, and the Wolf came forward before the window, and looked up to the Nurse, wagging his tail.
But all the Nurse did was to shut down the window and call for help, and the dogs of the house came rushing out.
“Ah,” said the Wolf as he galloped away, “Enemies promises were made to be broken.”
“He [The President] shall have Power [sic], by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present Concur.”
(U.S. Constitution, Article II, § 2, clause 2)
And what, after all, is a treaty anyway?
A trea·ty /ˈtrēdē/ is a noun, meaning a formally concluded and ratified agreement between countries. Synonyms include an agreement, settlement, pact, deal, entente, concordat, accord, protocol, convention, contract, covenant, bargain, pledge.
In Goldwater v. Carter, several Republican members of Congress challenged the constitutionality of then-president Jimmy Carter’s unilateral termination of a defense treaty. The senators were Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), Strom Thurmond (R-SC), Carl Curtis (R-NE), Jake Garn (R-UT), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jesse A. Helms (R-NC), Gordon Humphrey (R-NH), Representative Robert Bauman (R-MD), Representative Steve Symms (R-ID), Representative Larry McDonald (R-GA), Representative Robert Daniel Jr. (R-VA), Representative Bob Stump (R-AZ), Representative Eldon Rudd (R-AZ), Representative John Ashbrook (R-OH, and George Hansen (R-ID).
The case went before the U.S. Supreme Court and was never heard; a majority of six Justices ruled that the case should be dismissed without hearing an oral argument, holding that “The issue at hand … was essentially a political question and could not be reviewed by the court, as Congress had not issued a formal opposition.”
Justice William Brennan dissented, “The issue of decision-making authority must be resolved as a matter of constitutional law, not political discretion; accordingly, it falls within the competence of the courts”.
As a result, presently, there is no official Supreme Court ruling on whether the President has the power to break a treaty without the approval of Congress.
Complicating the issue even more, in 1987, President Reagan presented to Congress a proposed nuclear cooperation “agreement” with Japan. More than one-third of the Senate voted in opposition to the pact. Nevertheless, this U.S.-Japan Pact was enforced, in violation of the Article II treaty clause which had prevailed since 1787.
The federal courts also declined to interfere when President George W. Bush unilaterally withdrew the United States from the ABM Treaty in 2002, six months after giving the required notice of intent.
George W. Bush also withdrew the United States from the UN Small Weapons Ban and the Kyoto Agreement. And, while Bill Clinton signed the Rome Statute to create the ICC, the Bush Administration withdrew from the Rome Statute as well. One of his advisors? A man named John Bolton.
And now, in the Age of Trump? Paris Accord, Iran Agreement, and this week the INF Treaty.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (or formally Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles) is a 1987 arms control agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union (and later its successor state the Russian Federation). Signed in Washington, D.C. by President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on December 8, 1987, the treaty was ratified by the United States Senate on May 27, 1988, and came into force on 1 June 1, 1988.
The vote? 93-5 (Senators Jesse Helms of North Carolina, Gordon J. Humphrey of New Hampshire, Steve Symms of Idaho, and Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming; Senator Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina was the lone Democrat to oppose the accord. And Orrin Hatch voted for the treaty, sued the president when Carter withdrew from the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty, and now sits silently as Trump withdraws from a treaty that Senator Hatch himself voted in favor of. Just as silently as Hatch sat as President Bush 43 withdrew from treaty after treaty.
Apparently, Senator Hatch only cares about Article II of the Constitution when it’s a Democratic president?
And Trump. The guy whose book is entitled the Art of the Deal seems to be better abridging deals, not making them.
Trade talks with China…
Negotiations with North Korea…
Who would want to make a deal with the current US President? Clearly, this Wolf “believes that Enemies promises,” as well as promises and treaties with friends, “were made to be broken.”
It is selective and hypocritical for so-called originalists to ignore the continued attacks on Article II, Section II of the US Constitution. If 2/3 of Senators present ratify a treaty, why is it not equally logical that 2/3’s of Senators present must withdraw the US government from an international treaty. The same section of the Constitution gives the president the authority to appoint judges to the Supreme Court; if the US President can withdraw from a ratified treaty, then would that not also infer that a US President can withdraw the appointment of a judge to the Supreme Court as well? Is that the chaos that our Founding Father’s envisioned?
Stop appeasing the arbitrary whims of Donald Trump and his National Security Advisor John Bolton, protect the Constitution, protect our treaty obligations. How can America be the shining beacon of the hill, if we have become Aesop’s Nurse, or worse, the Boy Who Cried Wolf.