Giving The President Ultimate War Power
By James Donahue
The United States has been at war somewhere in the world almost constantly since the end of World
War II although there has never been a Congressional declaration of war since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941.
One might ask how this could have happened. Students of government know that the Constitution mandates
that only Congress can declare war between the United States and another nation. It appears that Congress has looked the other
way since President Harry Truman sent troops into South Korea to assist South Korean troops in a “police action”
against the invading North Korea.
America has been busy conducting “police actions” with its military forces ever since.
And it has all been done at the stroke of a presidential pen.
Knowing how slowly 435 House representatives and 100 Senators usually move to approve any article
of legislation, it is perhaps understandable why the rules of response to foreign acts of aggression have been altered over
the years. And it is true that our legislators have always supported the presidential decisions to send American troops to
war by approving military budget requests to feed this ongoing war machine. Thus the Pentagon has found a way to skirt the
Constitution and maintain an almost constant state of war.
Now, warns Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Congress is on the cusp of approving a bill that would,
in effect, strip the congress of its Constitutional powers to declare war and put it all in the hands of the President. In
an article appearing in Nation Magazine, Kucinich warns that passage of this bill,
The Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, would alter “the
delicate balance of powers that the Founding Fathers envisioned.”
Kucinich warns that the act contains “unprecedented and dangerous language that gives the
President virtually unchecked power to take the country to war and keep us there. This bill significantly undermines the Constitution,
the institution of congress and sets the United States on a path of permanent war.”
According to Kucinich, the act declares our nation’s declared War On Terror has locked us
in an armed conflict with not only the al Qaeda and Taliban but also with “associated forces,” organizations and
nations that support these terrorist groups. The act gives the President the “full legal authority to send American
troops to engage in acts of war anywhere without constitutionally required Congressional authorization “and consequently,
without any restrictions or oversight from the American people or Congress,” Kucinich warns.
After nearly a decade of endless fighting against Islamic forces that have been loosely identified
as “terrorist cells” in Afghanistan and Iraq, and expanding our military action into Pakistan and most recently
into Libya and possibly even Yemen, it has become obvious that the Bush created “War On Terror” is yet another
vague, borderless fight against an inexplicable enemy of many faces. The harder we fight on these foreign soils the more we
create armed resistance. And the longer we continue to maim and kill these people, the more the problem of terrorist attack
grows on our homeland. Thus we have created the ultimate endless war; much to the delight of the industrial war machine operating
in the shadows of our government.
Kucinich also states that the bill includes language that would “make permanent the degradation
of law and human rights which has become Guantanamo. It imposes bans on the transfer of any detainee held at Guantanamo, including
those who have been cleared of any charges. . . This bill not only allows the imprisonment of innocent people but could mandate
He said the bill also prevents the use of federal courts for trial of most “terrorism”
suspects, thus circumventing our system of justice and protection under the Constitution.
Kucinich concludes: “Congress must protect the American people from the over-reach of any
Chief Executive who is enamored with unilateralism, pre-emption, first strike and the power to prosecute war without Constitutional
or statutory proscriptions. Permanent global war is not the answer. It will not increase our national security. Far from ridding
the world of terrorism, it will become a terrorist recruitment program.”
After a decade of unnecessary warfare, we fear our actions in the heart of the Islamic world have
already done this very thing. For example, our government spent $80.1 billion on intelligence gathering in 2010, three times
more than it did in 1998.