Recently Barack Obama asked Congress for the authority to send U.S. military ground troops in the fight against ISIS. To be precise, Obama has asked Congress to grant him more war powers to fight ISIS. I’ll get into what I think about ISIS in awhile, but for now let’s take a closer look at what Mr. Obama is asking for. As far as war goes the Constitution does not mention much regarding it, only that only Congress has the authority to declare it, (Article 1 Section 8), and that the president will be the Commander in Chief of the armed forces when called into the actual service of the United States, (Article2 Section 2). Basically it boils down to this, only Congress may declare war, and it is the job of the president to run it once one is declared. Therefore for the president to have any ‘war powers’ Congress must first declare a war.
However, in this instance Obama is not asking Congress to declare war on ISIS. What he is asking for is the authority to send U.S. troops into the region to combat them without a formal declaration of war. If you take the Constitution literally, then this is a violation of his powers as the executive. Going back to the beginning of our republic George Washington, the first president, declared, “The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.”
There have always been questions regarding the powers a sitting president holds in the use military force without a formal declaration of war by Congress. Going back to the earliest years of our nation’s existence presidents have sent our military off to fight battles without a formal declaration of war by Congress, so this isn’t something new. In the very early 1800’s Tripoli cut down our flag in front of our consulate, which was their customary way of declaring war upon another country.
Prior Tripoli having declaring war upon the U.S. Congress had passed legislation providing for six frigates, (a naval warship designed with speed and firepower the primary considerations), to defend against piracy along the Barbary Coast. Tripoli, Algiers and Tunis had taken to commandeering trade ships and holding them hostage in return for ransom, or tribute.
When Congress authorized the use of these frigates against the Barbary Pirates they did so “to protect our commerce & chasitise their insolence.” Even though Tripoli had commenced hostilities, President Jefferson was conscious of his powers as president to engage in military actions other than the defense of U.S. property. Congress never did formally declare war on Tripoli, but they did authorize the president to “cause to be done all such other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war will justify.” In effect, this was the first of what are known as war powers resolutions.
Our country has fought many wars without a formal declaration of war by Congress. Congress never declared war upon Korea, Vietnam, nor did it declare war for any of the current conflicts in the Middle East. In fact the Korean war, if you want to call it a war, was fought because the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 84 which called for members of the UN to provide forces to repel the attack upon South Korea by the North. But the UN and their resolutions are subject matter which do not apply to the current topic under discussion, so let’s get back to this request for war powers.
In 1973 Congress enacted a law in response to Richard Nixon’s unauthorized bombings in Cambodia. That law would limit a president’s powers during war time. Nixon vetoed the bill, but Congress overrode his veto and the War Powers Resolution became law.
This law basically takes the Constitution literally by declaring that the president cannot send US forces into conflict without a direct declaration of war by Congress. However, it leaves a loophole where the president can send troops off to fight, but must notify Congress within 48 hours, and then they can only stay for up to 90 days before they must be withdrawn…unless Congress formally declares war or issues what is known as a continuing resolution, and this is the loophole I was speaking of.
A continuing resolution is basically an extension of the president’s powers under the War Powers Resolution. In short, military actions can be extended indefinitely as long as Congress continues to extend the president’s authority to use military force. However, the moment Congress refuses to extend the president’s powers he must begin withdrawing troops from the conflict.
War is a terrible thing. It has been said that Robert E. Lee, commanding general of the Confederate Army once stated, “It is good that war is so terrible – lest we grow too fond of it.” Whether or not Lee actually said it is irrelevant, the sentiment is true, war is terrible and should not be something a country is eager to jump in to, or become involved in.
If you boil it all down there are but two kinds of wars; offensive wars and defensive wars. An offensive war is one in which a people, or nation, invade, conquer and take over control of another people or nation. History is full of examples of empires that grew by the conquest of other lands. There were, of course, the Romans, the Persians, and the legendary conquests of Alexander. Those are all offensive fights…the goal of which was to expand empire or obtain access to land, wealth or natural resources. Then there are defensive wars. A defensive war is the exact opposite where a people, or nation, fights to repel invaders or seek retribution for an attack upon them.
If you take that into consideration, what would you consider our reasons for sending U.S. troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now our president’s request to send troops to fight ISIS? Is our fight with them offensive, or is it defensive? We have all been told that the war on terror is in retribution for the attacks of 9/11. I don’t buy that.
As I have stated, war is either offensive or defensive. If we are to believe that we are fighting this war in retribution for the ‘terrorist attacks’ of 9/11 then the goal should be to go in an annihilate the enemy, or at least inflict so much damage upon them that they could never hope to again cause us harm.
If one country attacks, or conquers another, it is a simple matter to decide who is the enemy and who must be fought. But terror is not a country, therefore how do you fight terror? You can only fight those who use terrorism as a tool in their fight against you. Terrorism is predominantly used by those who have a goal of some sort, be it political or ideological. Those using terror as a weapon wish to cause others fear them to the extent that they change their behavior in a way that is more amenable to their desired goal.
So in this case, this war on terror we constantly hear about, we have to ask ourselves two questions. First, who are these people who use terrorism as a weapon, and secondly, what is their goal; is it politically based, or is it ideological in nature?
After the attacks on 9/11 George W. Bush addressed Congress, and the nation, saying, “They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”
But if they have declared war against us because ‘they’ hate our freedoms, what are the beliefs they hold and what are they based upon? They may be, as President Bush also said, a fringe element of radical extremist Islam, but the key word there is Islam. They are those who take their religion literally and are, by nature, zealots. They believe that if you are not Muslim then you are an infidel and they are required to convert, or kill you. For them there is no middle ground in this. In the case of ISIS they even go so far as to kill other followers of Islam who do not strictly adhere to their beliefs.
I know many people who believe that the war on terror is a whole conspiracy designed to keep us in a perpetual state of war, make the bankers and military industrial complex richer, and deprive us of our freedoms at home. To some degree I agree, but I also believe that there are elements within Islam who are simply pure evil and want to see us all dead simply because we do not adhere to their version of Islam.
I just watched a video of a woman who was confronted by armed members of ISIS for wearing a red jacket over her traditional clothing. They pronounced her guilty and executed her right there on a busy street and nobody did a thing to stop them. After they put a bullet into her head they laughed about it. These people are evil and they will go to any extent to see their religious views imposed upon others.
People are so politically correct that they cannot call evil for what it is without fear of being labeled Islamophobic. Yes, there may be moderate peaceful Muslims in this world, but as long as they remain silent about these atrocities and refuse to stand up and fight those who commit them, they will continue to be victims of the more extreme followers.
While ISIS may be something new, having just shown up on the world radar screen, radical Islam is something our country has fought before. Prior to President Jefferson’s attacks upon the Barbary Pirates, Jefferson and John Adams went to London to speak with the ambassador to Tripoli and enquire as to their justification for their acts of piracy. Ambassador Abdul Rahman Adja replied, “It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.” This is the enemy we are fighting today, the same form of extremism which leads them to believe that they are above us and we must either convert to their way of thinking, or be killed.
For us to win a war like this we cannot go into their countries and install a democracy, that simply won’t work. They are basically a theocracy in which their belief is that their religion dictates the law upon the faithful. In a democracy you are allowed the freedom of choice; the two systems are incompatible with each other.
Besides, the purpose of war is to either conquer or to exact enough damage upon those that attacked you so that they either cannot, or realize it is a bad idea to attack you again. It is not to goin in and impose our way of life, our beliefs, or our system of government upon them. If the people of these countries really want an open and free democratic society they should fight for it, instead of relying upon America to do their dirty work for them. After all, we fought for our freedoms in 1776, they can fight for theirs now.
However nation building should not be a part of our agenda when going to war with another country, unless of course there are ulterior motives for us going to war in the region, like the acquisition and control of their oil.
Before this war on terror began, candidate George W. Bush was quoted as saying, “Let me tell you what else I’m worried about: I’m worried about an opponent who uses nation building and the military in the same sentence. See, our view of the military is for our military to be properly prepared to fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place.” But isn’t that exactly what we have been trying to do in that region since we first took the fight to them? A war such as ours, as terrible as war is, should be such that we take the fight to an enemy, inflict so much damage upon them that they give up and learn their lesson not to trifle with us again. Once that mission is accomplished then we bring our forces home and be done with it.
As Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams made the following statement to Congress, “America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity. She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart… Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”
Just as in Islamic countries democracy is incompatible with their beliefs, the opposite is equally true; in a democratic society, Islam, with its requirement of strict obedience to religious code is incompatible with our beliefs. One belief encourages freedom while the other stifles it. I know it is a slippery slope when we begin telling people what they can and cannot believe in when it comes to their religious beliefs. The First Amendment guarantees us religious freedom. That said, do we really want to continue to allow people from those countries from which these extremists originate to emigrate to America? Can we be 100% sure that we are not bringing in people who will one day rise up with their own ISIS on U.S. soil?
I recently read an interesting article, the statistics of which I would like to share. In the article the author said that as long as the Islamic population of a country remained around 1% of the total population it was considered peace loving. When it reached 2-3 percent it began proselytizing from other groups, with those converting coming from other minorities, prison inmates, and other disaffected members of society. When the Islamic population of a country reaches 5% it will begin pushing it’s beliefs upon a people. For instance it will push for halal; food which is clean by their religious standards. They will also push for self governance, to have Sharia law govern them and not the laws of the country they live in. This is already happening in some areas in the U.S. Dearborn Michigan is a prime example.
When the Islamic percentage of a nation reaches 10% they will begin using violence to enforce their beliefs. At 20% you see rioting, killing and jihad militia formations. At 4-50 percent you see widespread violence, ethnic cleansing, and extreme subjugation and persecution of non believers.
Like I said, I am fully aware that there are moderates among them who preach a much more restrained, laid back if you will, version of Islam. But if America wants to see what is in its future if we continue to ignore the threat Islam poses to us, we only need to look at Europe and the violence and problems it faces due to unrestrained emigration of Muslims into their countries.
And finally, there is one question that most Americans are loathe to ask themselves; why are they fighting us in the first place? In asking America this question it is almost like asking that we look into a mirror that can see into the darkest parts of our heart and see the things that we prefer to keep hidden. Basically, I’m asking if their attacks upon us can be justified. By saying that I can see people throwing this paper down in disgust, and calling me a traitor. But the question needs to be asked.
Whether we agree with their politics, their religious beliefs, they are sovereign nations entitled to run their countries however they see fit. What right does the United States, or any other country for that matter, have to go in and interfere in the internal affairs of these countries?
Our CIA has orchestrated, or at least helped facilitate, the removal of leaders of some of these countries whose leadership was not very America friendly. We have gone into many of these countries and set up U.S. military bases on their soil to stabilize the region, and we have attempted to gain control of that most vital of natural resources…oil. Can you honestly say that they don’t have the right to despise, or at least, distrust America?
How would you react if, say China, sent it’s spies over here to facilitate the killing of our president? How would you like it if some foreign country set up their military bases in Mexico and Canada and tried to gain control of our vital resources for their own use? Many of you may not be old enough to remember, but I certainly remember the Cuban Missile Crisis where Russia tried to set up ballistic missile sites on the island of Cuba, less than 100 miles from our shore. America was outraged and we were on the brink of nuclear war because of it. Yet Russia and Cuba were two independent countries and fully capable of interacting with each other. Yet we almost went to war over it. Are we not to believe that these people in the Middle East may not feel a bit of resentment towards us for our interference in their countries? Is it not fair to assume that they might seek ways to strike back at what they consider as an evil empire that is always interfering in their countries?
I’m not saying we weren’t attacked, and retribution was not justified. I’m just saying that maybe if we just left them alone they would not have any justification for screwing around with us. Then, if they did, we would be justified in full retaliation. But that would be all we would be justified in doing, kicking their asses and then pulling our troops out. To remain in their country to try and force our way of life upon them only keeps the fire of hatred they have for us burning.
But this ISIS crisis is of our own creation. We propped up Saddam Hussein for a long time until he became a threat to us. We provided him with intelligence and weaponry to fight Iran. Then when we were attacked he suddenly became our enemy. No matter your opinions of Saddam, he ruled his country pretty tightly. There was no ISIS threat while he was alive. By our taking him out we created a power vacuum and all these radical groups began filling that vacuum.
We could kill off every member of ISIS, to the last man, woman, and child, and there would still be a vacuum which eventually would be filled by someone. Maybe that someone would be peaceful and mind their own business, or maybe they might be worse than ISIS.
The problem, as I see it, is that now we have created a situation that almost demands our constant intervention in the region to put down these never ending threats to our way of life. We cannot allow these radical groups to take hold across the entire region, yet we cannot seem to stabilize the region sufficiently to prevent these type groups from springing up.
The fundamental fact is that it all boils down to their religious beliefs. There will always be those who seek to impose a more radical and extreme version of their belief upon the more moderates. Until the moderates have the courage to stand up and fight their own battles, we will be forced to go into the region and put down these brush fires. And the more we interfere in the region the more justification they believe they will have to attack us. It is a Catch 22 situation with no end in sight.
Were it me in charge I would never have pulled our troops out when Obama did. I would have run down every radical and killed them, including the clerics and religious leaders of all countries who espoused violence in the enforcement of their religious beliefs. That is how you win a war, but America, it seems, no longer has the stomach to do what is needed to win a war. I honestly wonder sometimes, if World War II were going on today, how would the people of this country react should a sitting US president order the use of nuclear weapons to end the war?
But there is one other thing you need to consider. This war, these conflicts, are hugely profitable for some people, primarily those who work in the arms industry. Were these conflicts to end their profits would dry up. It is just like with the pharmaceutical industry and cancer, were they to CURE cancer they would lose billions in profits from chemo drugs. If these wars stopped the arms industry would lose billions in profits from the bombs and bullets they sell to the US government.
Not only that, but the bankers would lose as well as war always entails debt. Look at any nation’s history during a time of war, they always end up borrowing money to fund their wars. So not only would the arms industry lose billions in profits, if these conflicts ever ended the banks would lose out on all the interest created by the massive borrowing required to fund a never ending war.
Those are a lot of powerful interests that would do almost anything to ensure their revenue stream, and as our government is controlled by these special interests, I do not see an end to these conflicts any time soon as they are profitable for all, except those who actually have to go off to these foreign lands and fight. To them the cost is high, both physically and emotionally. How many of our young men and women have died, come home permanently disabled, or mentally scarred? War may make some rich, but it destroys the lives of others.
I do not claim to have all the answers. Whether or not our intervention in the region is in fact responsible for the rise of ISIS does nothing to take away from the fact that they exist now and must be dealt with somehow. The question then remains, is it our responsibility to deal with it, or is it a problem for the Middle East to solve? If it is ours, then ISIS and I do have one belief in common, either they eradicate us or we eradicate them. There can be no middle ground.