The U.S. Constitution safeguarded the political system from abuse of power and from abuse of dogma. It forced each side’s concepts to face the light of pragmatic concerns. James Madison and his friends knew well that, to preserve liberty, power needed to be balanced and checked.
This concept of checks and balances is integral to American political philosophy. But strangely, it is apparently not considered relevant by the Bush Administration in the formation of its foreign policy.
This Globalist commentary raises the Founding Fathers' concerns for separation of powers, and checks and balances, in order to preserve liberty and stem distortions of power, through the lens of foreign policy. Power was seen as the great spoiler, the ultimate divider, the final corrupter of the expression of liberty. The Bush Administration has done much damage to this doctrine within this country, weakening liberty and distorting the balance of powers, both between the executive and legislative and the federal and state (for instance, see the medical marijuana debate, or any of Ashcroft's other single-minded approaches to law and order). Internationally, their aims are much more egregious, and makes the prevailing mind set about power over freedom and democracy clear.
Instead the administration has an overriding goal — which is to place America’s power beyond challenge. There is an almost celebratory feeling that America is now free to use its power in the world as it wishes — and that it is no longer shackled by the balancing forces of the Cold War.
Madison knew better. During the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787 — and later in the Federalist Papers — he argued that for the large states (such as Virginia or New York) to prosper, they needed to be courageous enough to share some power with the smaller states. America cannot continue as a nation that values the check on power as a protection of liberties within its own borders — but feels constrained by the same values internationally.