Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Un-War President

Tonight, in his State of the Union speech, I anticipate President George W. Bush, like he has on many occasions, will refer to himself as a war president. It's just not true. America is not in a state of war.

Abraham Lincoln was a war president. So, too, were Woodrow Wilson and FDR. But in 2006, America isn't actually in a state of war.

Section 8 in Article I of the U.S. Constitution states that "Congress shall have the power to declare War." No such declaration has occurred regarding Iraq or the war on terror.

My father fought in World War II. My grandfather fought in World War I. Those were real wars. I, personally, was successful in evading the draft that would have sent me to Viet Nam. As far as I'm concerned, though, Viet Nam, like Korea before it, weren't real wars. They were police actions. Real wars are fought to be won -- at any cost.

Today's war on terror is a sad joke. That's not to imply that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida are not real enemies. But the war on terrorism is not a real war since the Pentagon has proven itself incapable of actually engaging Al Qaida or capturing Osama bin Laden.

Real wars are not fought by all volunteer armies. If this were a real war the government would be selling War Bonds, not cutting taxes while running the deficit up over $8 trillion. If this were a real war we would have had enough troops on the ground in Iraq to have prevented the looting that started the insurgency. If this were a real war we'd have shut down Al Jazeera in a heartbeat and found out where all those videotapes are coming from.

This is a war where, as Thomas Friedman of the N.Y. Times has frequently pointed out, American citizens are essentially paying for both sides of the conflict. With oil hovering close to $70 per barrel, Exxon just reported obscene annual profits of $36.13 billion. At those prices, can you imagine just how much Arab and Persian oil money is being funneled to those fighters killing American soldiers?

President Bush now asserts that Congress cannot impede his inherent powers as Commander in Chief granted in Section 2 of Article II of the Constitution. Bush campaigns that he has an unrestricted right to conduct warrantless domestic spying, even though the the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) forbids it. The claim that Congress authorized spying on Americans after 9/11 is preposterous. In FISA, Congress carefully balanced the liberties protected in the Bill of Rights against the need for surveillance of foreign enemies. Likewise, the administration brazenly asserts that the president possesses the authority to mistreat detainees, even after signing a law barring torture. To argue that Congress cannot place any limits on the president's ability to conduct a war on terror is absurd. I am very afraid for the state of our union when the president can ignore a statute that deals with the core liberties of American citizens.

Personally, even though I have two children of draftable age, I say if we're going to fight a real war then let's fight a real war. Let's go kick some ass, catch or kill Osama bin Laden, and destroy Al Qaida. If 9/11 was an act of war, then let's fight it like a real war. Otherwise, let's treat 9/11 as a horrific crime to be met with criminal justice. But, no more half-assed Viet Nam-like wars where U.S. soldiers die so that America's military industrial complex can get rich.


Blogger Vinnie Mirchandani said...

Jeff, I thought his speech had several promising angles from a tech and innovation perspective and for the future of our kids ...


but you make a powerful point, and love the country which allows you and me to speak our minds...

10:26 AM  
Blogger ITscout said...

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., who is African-American, was asked on public TV what he thought about the president.

"Well," he said, "I really think that he shatters the myth of white supremacy once and for all."

12:43 PM  

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