Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
- Sadly, we have completely sabotaged and perverted our traditional constitutional safeguards against war.
- Experts agree our Founding Fathers understood the great dangers of kings and presidents with unlimited powers. They knew concentrating power in one leader would threaten the freedom and independence of regular citizens.
- Studying history, they knew kings and heads of state often went to war foolishly for vanity, glory, ambition, power, greed, or conquests to build empires.
- They knew the temptation of war was too great for any one man or normal politician and that not all presidents will be wise.
- So our Founding Fathers rejected the British model of government by monarchy and built our system of government using three equal branches with checks and balances.
- They put rule of law first, subjecting all men, even the president, to the law. And they wisely separated war powers between the president and Congress.
- They made the president the commander in chief of the military, in charge of executing war, but only gave Congress the right to declare war and fund the military.
- Our constitution forbids any single man or small group of men from starting something so dangerous as a war.
- Our founding fathers felt this was THE MOST IMPORTANT LIMIT ON PRESIDENTIAL POWER. It deliberately slowed us down in going to war, guarding against unnecessary wars.
- George Washington only ordered defensive operations against Indians, knowing he would have to ask Congress for anything further. Thomas Jefferson always deferred to Congress in dealing with the Barbary pirates.
- In the early 1800s, the Supreme Court made clear the president must ask Congress for permission to use military force, not just for war.
- Military officers generally shied away from politics and many even refused to vote, up until World War II.
- For centuries in America, people understood the great importance of civilian control of our government. They realized military officers like to wage war and tend to see military action as the solution to every problem.
- In 1948, Truman offered General Eisenhower the Democratic nomination for president and as a serving military officer at the time, Eisenhower refused.
- The National Security Act of 1947 required only civilians could lead the Defense Department and later laws required only civilians to serve as secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
- All these laws made sure we kept civilians in charge, in order to avoid the great danger of unnecessary wars. The last time Congress declared war was World War II.
- Unfortunately, President Truman went to war in Korea without requesting or receiving authorization from Congress, starting what we now call the “imperial” presidency.
- Eisenhower saw Congress as a full partner in such matters but presidents like Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan, Bush (both father and son), and Obama felt increasingly able to start war without authorization from Congress.
- During the Cold War, presidents generally limited the use of military force, fearing triggering a direct confrontation with Russia. After the collapse of Russia, however, the US had free reign, dominating worldwide.
- Truman called the Korean War a “police action.” Obama argued the thousands of air strikes on Libya that killed thousands and destroyed Gaddafi’s government did not constitute “hostilities.”
- Supposedly, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan War, and Iraq War were not wars, just “extended military engagements.”
- Presidents now claim they can use air strikes and military force at will with out consulting with Congress, based on precedent, just because previous presidents have. This “imperial” presidency is completely unconstitutional.
- Congress perverted the Constitution, too, with laws giving away its power to declare war to the president. After Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon waged war in Vietnam without authorization, Congress tried to take back its war powers with the 1973 War Powers Resolution.
- Unfortunately, this unconstitutional and self-contradictory law failed completely. It set requirements for war, while also letting presidents start military action for three months for any reason at all. After three months, it simply required a warring president to ask Congress for extensions.
- Presidents have since used the War Powers Resolution to approve military force over 130 times but they don’t bother asking Congress for extensions.
- Now our presidents claim they can wage war anywhere in the world, without telling Congress, because after 9/11, Congress passed the Authorization For Use Of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF).
- Actually, Congress rejected the first version of President Bush’s AUMF allowing preemptive force to prevent terrorist acts. Instead, Congress only allowed military action against organizations responsible for 9/11 and against Iraq.
- Yet now presidents pretend the AUMF lets them use force anywhere in the world at any time. In 2016, we dropped 12,192 bombs on Syria alone, more than we dropped on any country since the war in Vietnam. Very often, our bombs hit civilians.
- Our Founding Fathers never imagined the US would use its military worldwide, occupy other nations, kill their citizens, and never even declare war. They would be SHOCKED and HORRIFIED to see that Congress now lets any president do these things on a whim.
- Obama greatly expanded drone strikes around the world but at least he vetoed SOME strikes requested by the military for danger to civilians and lack of evidence of need and success.
Now We Have THE VERY WORST POSSIBLE SCENARIO:
- President Trump has given all authority to the military to do whatever they please, worldwide.
- Trump has put military generals in charge of defense, homeland security, and national security.
- Civilians should be in charge, not military generals. Yet a retired military general (White House Chief of Staff John Kelly) controls everyone and everything Trump sees.
- Now our military talks about “generational wars,” arguing that we must accept never-ending war.
- Our State Department is the center of all our diplomacy for making peace. Trump has left it largely unstaffed and wants to downsize it further.
- Even retired General Jim Mattis, President Trump’s Secretary of Defense said, “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.”
- Putting the military in charge of war, generational, never-ending war, and crushing the State Department all completely sabotage and pervert the proper functions of our government.
- As Trump gives our military free reign, civilian casualties have skyrocketed to record numbers, nearly double the rate under Obama. This can only create more suffering and therefore, more terrorists.
- In March 2017 alone, we killed over 1,780 civilians in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia, with 200 of them in Mosul alone. In August 2017, we killed 1,062 civilians in just Iraq and Syria.
- Our war on terror now involves 76 countries, with no victories in sight and more terrorists than ever before. We used our Special Operations forces in 149 countries in 2017 alone.
- Recklessly killing civilians just fuels terrorism. We need to end the bullying of the world by the major powers.
- If we want peace, we must stop supporting dictators and their wars with military weapons. If we want peace, we must stop using weapons like burning white phosphorus and toxic depleted uranium.
- We can only lose hearts and minds this way. We can win over the world with kindness.
- And the best way to do this is to use the Building Peace UN 2.0 to fight for justice, measuring our allies by their good acts and sanctioning those nations who sabotage peace and good will.
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