Supporting the War Instead of the Troops
Last week, Congress debated a resolution directing the President to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan no later than the end of this year. The Constitution gives the power to declare war to the Congress, so it is clearly appropriate for Congress to assert its voice on matters of armed conflict. In recent decades, however, Congress has defaulted on this most critical duty, essentially granting successive presidents the unilateral (and clearly unconstitutional) power to begin and end wars at will. This resolution was not expected to pass; however, the ensuing debate and floor vote served some very important purposes.
First, it was important to finally have an actual floor debate on the merits and demerits of continuing our involvement in the conflict in Afghanistan. Most congressional action regarding Afghanistan has concerned continued funding for the conflict. Thus, members of Congress have cloaked their support for an increasingly unpopular war in terms of financial support of the troops. But last week's resolution had nothing to do with funding or defunding the war, but rather dealt directly with the wisdom of an open-ended commitment of U.S. troops (and hundreds of billions of tax dollars) in Afghanistan. Members opposing the resolution had to make their case for the ongoing loss of American lives as well as the huge expenditures required for an intractable conflict.
In my opinion, this was an impossible case to make.
Supporters of the war made the same intellectually weak arguments for continuing our occupation of a nation with a long and bloody history of resisting foreign occupation. Ultimately, the war supporters in Congress prevailed in the vote on the resolution. Still, the vote was significant because it places every member of Congress on the record as supporting or not supporting the unconstitutional, costly, violent occupation of a country that never attacked us. This vote should serve as an important reminder to the American people of where their representatives really stand when it comes to policing the world, empire building, and war.
The War Powers Resolution was passed in 1973 in the aftermath of Vietnam. It was intended to prevent presidents from slipping this country so easily into unwinnable wars, wars with indistinct enemies and vague goals. Unfortunately, it has had the opposite effect by literally legalizing undeclared wars for 90 days. In the case of Afghanistan, 90 days has stretched into nearly a decade. The original purpose of the initial authorization of force – to pursue those responsible for the attacks on September 11 – is no longer applicable. Al Qaeda has left Afghanistan; we are now pursuing the Taliban, who never attacked us. The Taliban certainly are not our friends, but the more of them we kill, the more their ranks grow and the stronger they become. Meanwhile, we are spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Afghanistan and accelerating our plunge toward national bankruptcy. Whose interests do we serve by continuing this exercise in futility?
Osama Bin Laden has said many times that his strategy was to bankrupt America, by forcing us into protracted fighting in the mountains of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union learned this lesson the hard way; and ultimately was forced to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in defeat and humiliation. This same fate may await us unless we rethink our policy and resist any escalation of our military efforts in Afghanistan. Our troops should be used for defending our country, making us safer and stronger at home- not for occupying foreign nations with no real strategy or objective.
Posted by Ivan on 03/25/10 02:07 AM
I think of two books when I read this article, Orwells - '1984' and Leonard C. Lewin's 'Report from Iron Mountain'. I don't believe it is possible to understand the context of and the agenda behind of last 100 years of war without reading these two books first.
Posted by Robby Dougherty on 03/21/10 09:47 PM
We are not really given a real choice as to whom we send to Congress. We are given a short list of the groomed, then pick whom we feel is deemed least dangerous to our country. May Ron Paul please run for president? We now and will, need him as much as the Colonies needed George Washington.
Posted by Ben on 03/21/10 02:05 PM
If only more of our congress thought and voted more like Dr. Paul.Or, to use a more historical name, U.S. Marine General Smedley Butler. Mention the name of that great patriot and hero, and the warhawks run with their feathers between their legs.
They won't dare call one of the most decorated military men in our country's history a coward, a commie, etc. They won't even acknowledge his existence.
Anyway, the logic of our presense is best tested, I think, by asking why we don't go to war with ourselves. When a former soldier blows up a government building, a disgruntled citizen crashes a plane into an IRS building, or some guy in Georgia just leaves a bomb laying around during the Olympics... No one talks of going to war on their home town simply because they housed him all these years.
But we do this for bin Laden, supposedly. Well, why is he any different? Because the Taliban don't let women vote? Please... let's stay on focus here!
And how soon many forget that the U.S. has an odd tendency to first support those whom they later go to war with. We've worked with the likes of Hussein and bin Laden, and even the Taliban. We meddled in Iranian affairs, and now we call them enemy because we made them into one. Everything we touch, we botch, and come out with more enemies than we previously had.
The warhawks, meanwhile, just cheer on the greatness of our bold, expensive, and senseless actions, claiming to be patriots. If you don't agree with the military-industrial complex, then you're a "commie". You're a "coward" that don't know anything about anything, who should just be "damn thankful" that our government is out there protecting us and our way of life by constantly sticking our necks into danger.
All the while, they ignore what our government continues to, ignore the fact that we have the Patriot Act, ignore the fact that Obama is in fact supporting more war and spending toward it, all the while calling him a muslim that wants to let Iran (or whoever) do as they please "to us".
And I'm not just talking about the military complex. There's too many _citizens_ out there who whole-heartedly by into and promote this crap. They really think that Iraq and Afghanistan will come over here to attack us the moment we "show a moment of weakness" in leaving.
They think North Korea and Iran have _a_ nuke that they would use against our _thousands_. And they call 9/11 truthers the nut-cases! They call the ways of this former republic the "free market" way of doing things, and will never acknowledge the Austrian School.
Austrian? Sounds communist. Best to ignore it or attack it, and that's exactly what they do.Sorry to rant like that, but I had to get that out. I'm pretty well ticked off that this just going forward, with no end in site.And I can't do anything about it. It's like the absolute worst has to happen in order for this to end. Just for once, I wish it didn't have to be that way.
Posted by Ken on 03/20/10 09:30 PM
Osama couldn't bankrupt a country that was already bankrupt. The USA has been bankrupt for over 100yrs.The war is to gain control for the elite and nothing else.
Posted by Mpresley on 03/20/10 04:23 PM
Prior to the last presidential election and during the campaign our liberal media was altogether beside itself over the wars. Now, all is forgotten. It was never about the war, one way or the other.
Posted by Non-plussed on 03/20/10 02:09 PM
Elite, yes, in their own minds! But why do you call our congress people idiots? Perhaps a few are, but most are obviously intelligent, but corrupt, megalomaniacs interested only in self-aggrandizement. Increasing their own money and power is their main objective--and they are, in general, very good at realizing their goals.
Observe how many politicians emerge from congress (and other foreign, law-making bodies) and the Executive Branch as millionaires with powerful jobs awaiting them in the private sector.
Tony Blair (who has just recently quit Parliament.) in the U.K. is the most obvious recent example.) Idiots are incapable of doing this. Of course, so many of them appear to be idiots because their reasoning power seems to have evaporated; but that's only because their stated objective of defending the Constitution and benefitting our country seems to be at odds with their behavior.
Their behavior and voting records have nothing to do with their stated objectives, but everything to do with the above specified goal of self-aggrandizement.
Posted by D. Stewart Armstrong on 03/20/10 12:54 PM
Of course Dr. Paul is correct. How could anyone be so arrogant to invade Afghanistan, especially after the Soviet debacle. But then when we bring our boys home, they will be ordered to have their weapons trained on us--the loyal opposition or simply dissenters. Can't have that now, can we. Maybe we better leave them over there; we'll all be safer.DSA
Posted by Steve Mapes on 03/20/10 10:00 AM
It is time for the US to stop being the world policeman and wasting 100's of billions and our soldiers lives. If the countries that host our troops want our protection, they should pay for it not the American tax payer.
But, lets not forget the fact that the American Military-Industrial complex has always had its way with Congress for it provides the funds to re-elect these elite idiots.
Posted by Puzled on 03/20/10 09:24 AM
Why are there so few intelligent members of congress? What happens to the smart people we elect? It seems when they get to Washington the good reassons we sent them disappear. Then we get all this socalist nonsence our economy goes down the tubes and yet again we are a defunt country! Is there something in the air or water? Or is the problem, MONEY?
Posted by Cornelius Austin on 03/20/10 09:09 AM
Once again Ron Paul is 100 percent on the mark. Ditto Germany, England, Italy, Iraq, Spain, Japan, Korea, Poland, etc. We are not an empire and our borders are being left unattended by this and the preceding (Constitution raping) administrations.
Posted by Duane Bass on 03/20/10 07:32 AM
I agree whole heartedly! It is time for the USA to stop policing the world and get back home. . .