Most people who read my writing know that I am opposed to the war on terror (as it has been waged) but I have never really expounded upon that stance to explain why. As I have said recently, Congress has the authority to declare war, and like all constitutionally-delegated powers, that authority cannot be passed on to another branch of government.
Since no war has been declared since 1942, it follows that all the wars the U.S has been involved in through the last 70 years have been illegal (under our constitution).
When I tell people this, I also mention that the U.S could wage a war on “terror” by declaring war (for cause) against state sponsors of terror, one at a time. This also gives them no real answer because the wars we are currently engaged in are not against state actors, and this is because we didn’t follow the law initially. We should have declared war on Afghanistan (for being a harbor for the terrorist organization which hit the US on 9/11).
The reason I ask the question in the title â€œIs D.C. really seriousâ€¦?â€ is because the federal government has not used the tools in the Constitution designed to deal with non-state entities that threaten us, namely letters of marque and reprisal.
From Wikipedia, this is the definition:
The formal statement of the warrant is to authorize the agent to pass beyond the borders of the nation (“marque” or frontier) and then to search, seize, or destroy an enemy’s vessel or fleet. It is considered a retaliatory measure short of a full declaration of war, and, by maintaining a rough proportionality, has been intended to justify the action to other nations, who might otherwise consider it an act of war or piracy. As with a domestic search, arrest, seizure, or death warrant, to be considered lawful, it needs to have a certain degree of specificity to ensure that the agent does not exceed his authority and the intent of the issuing authority.
This is the method of dealing with terrorists that would be constitutional. So… How many have been issued since 9/11/01? None. Not one has been issued.
Instead we sent in the Marines, which is like a surgeon trying to cut out a cancerous tumor with a broad sword. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Veteran, my father was a Veteran, my grandfathers were both Veterans. I am a big proponent of the military. That being said, when there are bank robbers holed up in a local branch of our neighborhood bank I don’t expect the Air Force to drop tactical nukes.
So where does this leave us? Let’s leave out the human toll for now (not that it is unimportant, but rather difficult to calculate). How about the last 70 years that we have been at a continuous state of quasi-war. This period has seen the government snag rights from citizens continuously, based on “wars” that never got declared, from Korea to Vietnam, both which never ended but were viewed as a larger cold war. Then we had the “War on Drugs,â€ then Gulf War I, and now the War on Terror- which encompasses Gulf War II and Afghanistan.
If we count, we may have had a brief period of five years after WWII of peace, and maybe eight years after the fall of the Berlin wall before the War on Terror started. That is 13 years out of the last 70 that were peaceful.
And yet, not one declaration of war.
This leaves people who care about civil liberties in a very precarious situation. We cannot protest the continual infringement of civil liberties without being viewed as unrealistic.
If I believed that the continuous wars would end when we won, I would be pushing for an escalation to hasten the arrival of victory, so peace can follow. I, however, have no such faith, and as long as a simple authorization of military force can send us to a full scale war…
Neither should you.
When we actually begin following the constitution we will be able to end the War on Terror. A privateer, with a letter of marque, would be a much better soldier in the War on Terror than the mountains of man and steel we send to the fight.
For one thing, the privateer is not bound by the same laws we use to bind our military, nor are they bound by the Geneva convention as the government is. They are simple businessmen who can accomplish tasks that tens of thousands of soldiers could not do due to regulations and conspicuousness.
This is the approach that D.C would take if they cared about our safety AND freedom as opposed to just our safety.
Tim Reeves is the State Chapter Coordinator for the Oregon Tenth Amendment Center.
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