Wednesday, March 03, 2004

WAR WAR WAR WAR WAR WAR WAR

Kenneth R. Timmerman says (below):

"Presidential contenders have criticized sitting presidents in times of war before, but what's unique today is that "it has become the rule, not the exception," says Michael Franc, vice president for government relations at the Heritage Foundation. "With a few notable exceptions, you have almost the entire Democratic Party hierarchy that opposes what Bush is doing in the most vitriolic and emotional terms."

Did the US Congress pass a declaration of war that somehow went completely unreported? It has become pathetically clear that George W. Bush has such a terrible record, both domestic and foreign, that his handlers and his sycophants have decided early on to play the "war card". Yes, like the rest of a weary nation, I sat through Tim Russert's mollycoddling of the President on "Meet the Press" and heard a grave and stumbling George W. Bush proclaim over and over and over again that he is a "war time president".

Leaving aside for the moment the blame due to the cowards in Congress, we ought at least to note that the Constitution (which still exists in print if apparently not in spirit) specifically reserves to the Congress the power to declare war. In spite of 50 years of congressional abdication of responsibility and usurpation by presidents of both parties of war powers, the United States of America is most emphatically NOT AT WAR.

Furthermore it is the sacred duty of the loyal opposition in all forms of democratic and representative governments to speak loudly, publicly, and proudly when it disagrees with the president--especially in time of war (which this is not). To hold that disagreement or criticism of the president whenever troops are in harm's way is somehow less than patriotic is to show both ignorance of and disregard for the foundations of our form of government. Worse it appears to show fear--fear that if actually questioned, the actions of the president cannot be reasonably justified.

Since it may well be that the best path to greater safety for all American citizens, citizens of nations friendly to America, and all those who simply seek a peaceful life does NOT lie in war, then any true American patriot will champion critical discourse. And yes, the right and duty to be critical of the president includes presidential candidates in election years. When a sitting president puts on his Command in Chief hat he does not cease to be the political leader of the country and does not acquire infallibility. A man serving as president of the United States when acting in his capacity as commander of our national military forces is as prone to error in his military decisions as he is in formulating his domestic policies.

In short, there is nothing in a free society as dangerous and un-patriotic as the attempt to stifle dissent. Too many of those who support the president can't seem to resist wrapping themselves in the flag and accusing those who disagree with them of (what are Ann Coulter's favorite words?) "Treason" and "Slander" and "aiding the enemy".

Perhaps 52 years without War and 52 years of television hyperbole have resulted in a nation that "misunderestimates" what war is and why the framers carefully and explicity reserved to the Congress the right to declare it--and, by the way, the responsibility to raise the money to pay for it. It may well be that Lyndon Johnson is to blame for calling his program to reduce hunger and homelessness the "War on Poverty". It may well be that Congress knew that the citizens of America were, in 1950, still reeling from World War II and would not support another real war against North Korea. It may be that the congresses of the 1960s and early 1970s used the Korean Conflict as a precedent and an excuse to send over 58,000 American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen and women to die in VietNam without a declaration of war. It may be that these precedents have allowed members of the House and Senate to stand aside while presidents have sent US forces to die in military interventions all over the globe without the constitutional authority to do so.

One possible reason, of course, that we are not now at "war" in Iraq is that a true declaration of war requires that members of Congress be accountable to the American people. One possible reason we cannot be at "war" in our "War on Terror" is that we have no nation and no clearly identifiable political entity upon which to declare war. Of the four horsemen, one is born of Man. We should not take his name so much in vain.


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