President Trump has a knack for getting long-forgotten political actors to act like they’re still relevant.
The President’s foreign policy has been one of the most common targets of his detractors. Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, co-wrote a scathing CNN op-ed calling on Congress to circumvent President Trump by asserting greater foreign policy powers.
Albright’s article, titled “It’s time for Congress to override Trump’s foreign policy powers,” was co-written by Rep. David E. Price (D-NC), who is the ranking member of the House Democracy Partnership.
The former Clinton official evoked history, describing moments in which Congress put a check on the Executive Branch’s foreign policy.
“Senate hearings on the Vietnam War played a decisive role in turning public opinion against the conflict and accelerating the US troop withdrawal. During Ronald Reagan’s administration, Congress uncovered and reversed the President’s policy of covert support for anti-leftist militias in Central America, and delivered a bipartisan rebuke of his policy toward apartheid South Africa.”
The article then argued that President Trump’s handling of foreign policy merits such Congressional intervention.
“In the first 10 months of his administration, President Donald Trump has, among other actions: questioned the principle of mutual self-defense that has formed the bedrock of our NATO alliance for six decades; withdrawn the United States from the most significant global climate agreement in history, which every other country in the world has now signed or ratified; provoked a destabilizing war of words with nuclear-armed North Korea while sowing doubts about America’s commitment to our allies in East Asia … .”
Albright and Price characterized President Trump’s calls on NATO member nations to pay their obligations as questioning “the principle of mutual self-defense that has formed the bedrock of our NATO alliance.”
The authors of the piece also slammed the President’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement as bad policy, even though it would have required the US to bear the majority of the cost without providing significant carbon level reduction.
And they alluded to the current administration’s “destabilizing war of words” with North Korea without mentioning that policies of previous administrations enabled the Kim regime to develop nuclear weapons and long-range missiles by the time President Trump took office.
The former Clinton official gave Democrats hope that some action has already been taken to curtail the Trump administration.
“Congress voted nearly unanimously to remove the President’s discretion to grant sanctions relief to Russia, despite objections from the administration. And Congress has quietly begun to pursue greater congressional oversight over the President’s use of force, for example by revisiting the Authorization for the Use of Military Force used by the last three presidents to justify counterterrorism operations abroad.”
Albright called these measures “steps in the right direction,” but urged more.
“Funding bills, for example, will need to be more carefully crafted to safeguard key priorities and provide leverage against authoritarian abuses. Hearings will need to be stepped up to scrutinize executive actions, more carefully vet personnel, and examine congressional options in response.”
The article concluded:
“But with the President consistently falling short of the mature judgment and discerning decision-making required of the leader of the free world, Congress has no choice but to respond and compensate. That is what our constitutional framers intended. America’s role in the world depends on it. It is an Article I moment, and Congress must measure up.”
The op-ed painted a dim–and arguably partisan–picture of contemporary foreign policy. But as long as the President maintains the support of the Republican base, it’s uncertain whether the Congressional GOP will dramatically undermine his foreign policy.