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Replacing the Imperial Presidency in the Age of Global Warming

I’d like to use the occasion of Al Gore’s op-ed in the NYT today to expand on something I said in my talk on Curbing the Imperial Presidency. In his book The Imperial Presidency, Arthur Schlesinger argued that the Imperial Presidency derived from foreign policy:

The Imperial Presidency was essentially the creation of foreign policy. A combination of doctrines and emotions–belief in permanent and universal crisis, fear of communism, faith in the duty and the right of the United States to intervene swiftly in every part of the world–had brought about the unprecedented centralization of decisions over war and peace in the Presidency. With this there came an unprecedented exclusion of the rest of the executive branch, of Congress, of the press and of public opinion in general from these decisions.

We would only need to replace the word terrorism for communism to apply this paragraph today–to describe how the rationale of crisis and fear justified the dangerous consolidation of power under the Executive. At the close of my talk on the Imperial Presidency, I said,

Finally, we have to use the Administration’s botchedpropaganda against it. It is clear to most, now, that the invasion of Iraq hadnothing to do with an attempt to prevent the proliferation of WMD, a desire tospread democracy, or a fight against terrorism. We need to keep refuting thosewho want to claim this war is part of the war on terror. But we need to takethat a step further and talk about the real reason the Administration didinvade Iraq: to prop up America’s threatened hegemonic position using a grandstrategy that is not only outdated and immoral, but guaranteed to beineffective in an era of global warming and peak oil.

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