photo: Star Tribune
by Eric Holcombe
Welcome to the 2014 edition: Obama Goes To War – Part 5. With strangely “coincidental” timing, our president announced some interesting things yesterday:
- The “friendly” or “moderate” branch of Al Qaeda (previously known as our sworn enemies from 9/11 “that must be stopped”) that we armed over the last two years in Syria as the Free Syrian Army “rebels to topple the Assad regime” in Syria is now our sworn enemy ISIL. For some reason he continues to call them ISIL while the “news” continues to call them ISIS. Don’t try too hard to reconcile that these Syrian rebels we armed are the same people who allegedly beheaded two American journalists and why we currently are in “immediate danger” from invasion and must invade now.
- He told us the Islamic State is not a state. Not clear if this is referring to IS or still ISIL or maybe ISIS or CIAlQaeda
- He told us the Islamic State is not Islamic because no religion murders people.
- He said that we would be arming different “moderate” Islamists in Syria. (But if killers are not Islamic, how then can there any longer be a “radical” Islamist?)
- He told us the United States would invade Iraq and Syria to eradicate ISIL – the less moderate Islamists that aren’t Islam.
- He told us he has the authority to do this without Congress.
Fox “News” then went on whining about the fact that the president did not lay out the military details of the air strikes on world-wide television in advance (I’m really supposed to believe these people are attorneys?). Maybe Fox “News’” assumption is that ISIS/ISIL/IS/AQ/CIA would be too busy updating their American-hosted Facebook and Twitter accounts with new proclamations to watch the “news”. Fox has worked hard the last two months attacking the president to make HIM individually responsible for not committing our military to invading Syria. They keep criticizing that the president hasn’t ordered air strikes in Syria yet – when constitutionally, he does not have the power to do so. I haven’t seen Andrew Napolitano on for quite some time since they started banging the war drums. I think he would bring some “fair and balanced” to that debate.
Guest star Mitt Romney made an appearance to attack the president because HE didn’t attack THREE years ago (apparently before we started actually supplying arms to the head choppers but before John McCain “snuck in” to visit them AFTER they had kidnapped James Foley – meanwhile “intelligence” blamed it on the Assad regime). Sen. Ted Cruz then made an appearance to attack the president because HE didn’t attack Syria TWO years ago – when Al Qaeda was our friends in the FSA and we were arming them after they had kidnapped James Foley and John McCain was meeting with them and “intelligence” was blaming Assad for the kidnapping. Confused yet?
Wait, isn’t Cruz supposed to be the “tea party” Republican that is all constitutional and stuff? Late in his interview he then completely reversed course to argue the president can’t do this two-years-too-late invasion because “my copy of the Constitution” says Congress must declare war. So then Sen. Cruz, why didn’t YOU do that already two years ago?
I found this constitutional epiphany interesting, because the United States Congress hasn’t declared war according to our Constitution since 1942. This hasn’t seemed to bother any Republicans except Ron Paul in my lifetime.
Since ISIS/ISIL/IS/CIA is not a nation-state, we cannot declare war against them. Since we declare them instead to be a “terrorist group”, much like the Barbary Pirates, we have a lawful process for fighting them. It is called a letter of marque and reprisal – the vehicle used against the Barbary Pirates because they too were not a nation-state. However, this method (and its morality is questioned by some) employs private forces, mercenaries, to do the dirty work. But since the country itself was not attacked, the military forces could not defend (remember it is a department of defense). This is a very foreign idea to my generation because the U.S. military is parked in every sea and occupying over 150 countries – all with no declaration of war.
Ron Paul introduced the September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001 less than 30 days after the attacks on September 11, 2001. This act specifically identified Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden as the targets and would have authorized a bounty for his capture along with any others involved in the attack, known and unknown at the time. It would have authorized President Bush to respond in a legal fashion according to our Constitution since these were not nation/states that we could declare war against, not that our Congress would actually declare war.
The Republican majority wasn’t interested. There were only 9 Republican cosponsors on the bill (including the Constitution Party’s 2012 presidential nominee Virgil Goode and Tennessee’s Zach Wamp). No votes were taken. We just went to war without a declaration – attacking Afghanistan (and later Iraq) when none of the 9/11 terrorists were from either of those countries. 15 of 19 were from Saudi Arabia, whom you will notice we continue to ignore despite that they too openly persecute Christians and operate under Sharia law and have been implicated as supportive of ISIS. Some caliphates are more equal than others it seems.
Ron Paul instead is labeled an “isolationist” when he was the only congressman to introduce legislation to go after Al Qaeda according to our Constitution.
Sen. Rand Paul also made an appearance and was even more bold to call the president’s action “unconstitutional”. If Senate Republicans really wanted to make political hay, or alternatively, if they really believed in the U.S. Constitution as the supreme law of our land, they would proceed with calls for impeachment hearings. Instead, they will authorize spending more millions with the military industrial complex in more illegal warfare and blame it’s failure on the president’s timing and his “weak” coalition of “only” 9 nations to fight ISIL/ISIS/IS/CIA. Unfortunately, the U.S. military will also forget its oath “to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic” and go to illegal war under their commander in chief – whom still hasn’t produced a birth certificate.
Dwight Eisenhower warned us about this:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.”
If we ever hope to win, we have to stop creating and arming the enemy first.