WAIKIKI, October 30, 2012 – Both President Obama and Vice President Biden gave the American people a stunning revelation of their view of the military during the debates. The Obama Administration wants to bulk up on special operations forces and unmanned aerial vehicles, sharpening the post-9/11 transition towards anti-terrorism, counterinsurgency and combating non-state actors in asymmetric warfare. This paradigm places the United States on a slippery slope towards endless military engagement and raises troubling questions about whether or not Congress even retains war powers in our 21st century.
The framers of the Constitution fully intended for the American people to be in the loop when the United States goes to war. Nothing imperils a nation so terribly as committing military forces to combat. This is why Article I, Section 8 grants Congress alone the power to declare war: so that the American people through the House and the States, through the Senate, make the call on whether or not a conflict is worth spending treasure and shedding blood over.
Today, the ongoing War on Terror has eroded the original intent of the framers and has given rise to a near-imperial presidency where commandos and drones are routinely employed in combat all around the world without the American people being given the opportunity to determine whether or not these campaigns are even in their best interest. Congress has effectively been placed in the backseat to the expeditions of the President, left only to retroactively approve whatever conflicts he starts.
With America sixteen trillion dollars in debt and 6,500 servicemembers or more killed in the ongoing War on Terror, this country needs to have a serious fiscal, legal and moral discussion about the proper role and function of our military. Is our military for national emergencies only – as the framers intended – or is it a global police force? Just when can our forces finally “declare victory” and come back home? When does the War on Terror actually end?
In January 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Secretary of State John Foster Dulles spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations and aptly warned, “If the enemy could pick his time and his place and his method of warfare – and if our policy was to remain the traditional one of meeting aggression by direct and local opposition – then we had to be ready to fight in the Arctic and in the tropics, in Asia, in the Near East and in Europe; by sea, by land, and by air; by old weapons and by new weapons.”
America’s policymakers once feared the prospect of fighting a global war but today no such reservations exist. Contrast Dulles’ words with present-day SECDEF Leon Panetta who, when asked by CBS’ Scott Pelly “In how many countries are we currently engaged in a shooting war?” responded “I’ll have to stop and think about that, because you know, obviously we’re going after al Qaeda, wherever they’re at.”
The implications of fighting a global, never-ending war against non-state enemies that can seamlessly blend in with populations should concern every single man and woman in America. In the past, America fought wars that were properly declared by Congress, won, and quickly went home. Today, we have no such homecomings to look forward to and no shortage of “enemies” to fight.
One Russian officer who fought during the Soviet war in Afghanistan remarked that he and his forces would go out every day and annihilate their opponents on the field of battle – but the next day, their enemies would emerge again from the caves, as if nothing had happened the day before. We ought to listen to that warning and ask ourselves whether fighting an apocalyptic-minded enemy that keeps coming back for more is really worth fighting all around the world.
You don’t have to be a member of the Libertarian Party to see that America needs to urgently change its attitude and policies towards war. We need to stop putting our young men and women in harm’s way, bring our troops home and focus on rebuilding America’s ever-weakening economy. Even the RAND Corporation released a report in 2008 which asserted no battlefield solution to terrorism exists. In that study, of 268 terrorist groups studied, 43% of them were terminated as a result of politics and only 7% ended as a result of military force.
It’s time to stop wasting our existence on endless war and start living in peace again.
Our military should serve the purpose of defense of our territories and use in national emergencies only – not police actions around the globe. As one retired U.S. Navy captain put it, “success in military strategy lies in not fighting. The ideal outcome is to deter and avoid war without surrendering national security or yielding on vital national interests.”
The Bible’s prophet Daniel had an alarming vision in which an angel told him “War will continue until the end”. But we also know from Scripture that “the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever.” Seeking peace is the right thing to do and will bring honor and prosperity back to our nation.
In this year’s presidential election, there is only one candidate who gets it when it comes to the right and proper role of the U.S. military, and that man is Gary Johnson. Now more than ever, votes for Johnson matter because they declare to the world that there are some of us in America who still want peace above all else.
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