The Climate Change Agreement: What's Going On Here?

So all these nations signed an agreement in Paris pledging to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by a certain amount in order to save civilization from impending doom.  In order to achieve these “goals,” some countries- like the United States- would have to take onerous steps to meet these targets by the dates specified.  The rub is that such an agreement cannot be binding on the United States unless one of two things happens.  First, to be binding it must be in the form of an executive agreement and that would require approval of both houses of Congress.  Or second, it could be in the form of a treaty which would require approval by two-thirds of the Senate.

The next logical question is by what authority does the President have the right to bind the United States to an international agreement of this nature?  The simple answer: he has no such authority.  Like so many other areas, my fear is that Congress will let this pass with nary a word and place their eggs in the basket of a Republican president in 2016 who can simply ignore the agreement.  That is playing with fire and it is also an egregious avoidance of Congress’ Constitutional duties.  It would be, as constitutional scholar Jonathan Toobin states,  “…merely reinforcing a new reality in which the whims of any president will be sovereign rather than the rule of law…”

And what is Obama’s motivation?  Part of it is possibly his sincere belief that climate change is a major issue facing this country and the world.  In short, he drank from the global warming Kool-Aid trough.  Therefore, part of his motivation may be he will do anything within his power to address the problem.  What he considers “within his power” is actually beyond his powers.

More likely and a larger part of the equation is that Obama simply loathes the Republican Party and views congressional Republicans with contempt.  We already know this to be the case given comments by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta who lamented the fact that Obama refused to compromise, let alone talk, to Republican congressional members to forge bipartisan compromise on anything.

His illegal and unconstitutional intervention in Libya is indicative of the ultimate motivation by Obama: subordination of the Constitution to international liberalism.  With Libya, there were absolutely no American interests at stake yet Obama used the cover of an international body- the UN Security Council- and a treaty- NATO- to justify American intervention.  Along the way, he ignored (in fact, flouted) the War Powers Act and Congress’ appropriations power.  Obama believes that only a strong Executive can adequately address international crisis and he clearly views climate change as an international crisis.

And King Barack I is not even original.  It was Woodrow Wilson who proposed an international body to resolve the world’s problems given the selfish parochialism of individual nations, including the United States.  It was Harry Truman who committed American troops in Korea under the auspices of a UN Security Council resolution without Congressional action.  At least Johnson had the Gulf of Tonkin resolution as an excuse to greatly escalate American involvement in Vietnam.

The actions and beliefs of Wilson, Truman and Obama have a dangerous common thread.  They all work from an assumption that the United States should give up sovereignty and adherence to our Constitution for the good of mankind.  Whether it is saving the world through destroying itself via war or global warming, this mindset is disturbing.  Our Founders did not forge a Constitution in order to subordinate it in later years to some international body like the United Nations, or to a group of 200 world leaders meeting in Paris.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 8 specifies that the President shall take an oath of office.  That oath requires that he “…preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  Nowhere is there mention of a requirement to uphold a UN Security Council resolution, a climate change “agreement,” or anything else of that nature.  Obama is hardly upholding that oath.  In fact, he is attacking it and denigrating the Constitution in the process.  To King Barack I, these are meaningless words he is required to repeat twice in his lifetime- almost an afterthought for the job for which he was elected.