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Friday, March 18, 2011

On the Road to Another Unconstitutional War?

Korea, Vietnam, Iraq1, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq2 all have something in common:  wars the US pursued without the Declaration of War explicitly required in our Constitution by both houses of Congress.   Call them military actions, joint efforts pursuant to UN resolutions, whatever.   Grant that they were justified, for security or ethical reasons, or not.   What they all have in common is that they were (and are) illegal.

And they by and large have not been very successful, with Vietnam the least, and Iraq and Afghanistan not very far behind.   Some of these started with small commitments of our military, others with massive "shock and awe".   But unlike World Wars 1 and 2 - the last two wars which we did declare and therefore pursued legally - we achieved no clear-cut victories.  Korea is still split, Vietnam went totally over to the adversary, and the fates of Iraq and Afghanistan are still in contention.  Only Serbia can be counted as the one sort-of success.

And now, President Obama has told us that we've moved to the verge of another unconstitutional war.  The US will help enforce a no-fly zone in Libya.  That means taking out Libyan air defenses and shooting down their planes, if necessary.  Very close to war - indeed, actually in a phase a war, by any reasonable standard.

Once again we'll be gambling - that his action turns out more like Serbia than Vietnam.

But we'd be better off not going down that road again at all.

*Noted added 19 March 2011:  And the US has just launched its first missile against Libya - so much for staying out of the action ...


10-min podcast on this subject

8 comments:

MY BACKGROUND said...

So appeasement, by inaction, will do any better? Cut the head off now and not have a WWIII. I could not disagree more with your position on this matter.

It's interesting the only one you deem a partial success was the one supported by a democratic president. Hummmm? Despite our previous discussions on affiliation, and your assertion that it's not based on a liberal agenda... In my opinion your "pink" colors are showing here, regardless if you can see it or not...

clicantro said...

I think this situation is completely different to the previous conflicts you mention. The entire world is aware at what’s happening in Libya. Even the U.N. has agreed on military actions. China and Russia didn’t veto the decision. It’s not a U.S. action, it’s a joint effort coordinated by the U.N. (that’s what the U.N. is for, right?) I only think in cases like Rwanda. If the U.N., U.S., France, etc, had gotten involved, history would have been much different.

Viviane Brentanos said...

One word - oil

Robert K. Blechman said...

Paul's point is not about how to deal with Libya. His point is that if we claim to be a constitutional republic and a nation of laws, and if our Constitution states that only Congress may declare war, and if our President or other governmental entities go to war without Congressional mandate, then we are no longer truly a constitutional republic, we are a tyranny at best, even if benign, or an anarchy at worst.

Paul Levinson said...

Bob Blechman has it entirely right.

My Background (name of first commenter): your problem is that you're a prisoner of ideology, and see everything through those glasses. Try analyzing the issues rather than applying your presumptions.

Paul Levinson said...

PS to My Background (name of first commenter): and your analysis is also incorrect on the face of it. I cited Vietnam as the worst example - last time I checked, LBJ was a Democrat. So how does my analysis reflect a pro-Democratic bias?

eanbardsley said...

I think in our last unconstitutional war, Bush shredded the constitution so much to bring freedom to another country that we lost a lot of our freedoms. So, I think Paul is absolutely right about this, we cannot shred our own constitution to free another people, that will just make them free, and us not. Though, it seems to me, this is like Kosovo where Clinton stopped the ethnic cleansing in a world effort, but yes it has to be done constitutionally. That the U.N. has placed sanctions on the crazy leader shooting his own citizens is some of the best news I have heard in years, it is looking like the world will not abandon them:-)

Ian Beardsley

eanbardsley said...

"Liberal Agenda?" Last I heard we were supposed to have more than one party, but that is a freedom we lost in the last shredding of the constitution where Bush used the enemy to turn liberal into a dirty word. Now we have a country with one party because most of the democrats are so scared to be called a liberal that they have all become republicans. I have always been a democrat and have had plenty of friends who are republicans, but one party and liberal a dirty word?

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