An Undeclared, Informal War on Ron Paul’s Foreign Policy

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No war should ever be fought without a declaration of war voted upon by the Congress, as required by the Constitution.– Ron Paul, on his website under war and foreign policy

Much bellyaching has been made as to "undeclared" wars and the Constitutionality of said wars.  Most of the articles I’ve come across point to the Korean War as the beginning of undeclared wars, with leaders citing Article II, section II of the Constitution, which refers to the President as the "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States", as justification for the President to initiate foreign wars without formal declaration.  Critics say this is a gross misinterpretation of the provision allowed the President.  They often cite Alexander Hamilton as having stated that the President would have "the direction of war when authorized" by Congress, after a formal declaration of war.

Thomas Jefferson, when he was President, also said that he was  “unauthorized by the Constitution, without the sanction of Congress, to go beyond the line of defense.”

Interesting, considering Thomas Jefferson waged an undeclared war against Islamic corsairs and state-sponsored piracy.  He did so enthusiastically, without bothering to seek Congressional approval.  The first presidential flip-flop?

Just as in debates about "Separation of Church and State", I’m sure you can cherry-pick and find all sorts of "gotcha" quotes by the Founding Fathers that (especially when taken out of context) appear to support one’s arguments.

The Constitution is one of the most brilliant documents ever written.  But as brilliant and revered as the Founding Fathers are, they are not gods, the Constitution is not holy scripture, and Ron Paul is most certainly not their prophet.

When one speaks about departures from "original intent"….that happened almost right away; and certainly happened  far before the Korean War.  The isolationist/non-interventionist belief Ron Paul has of America is of a romanticized, quixotic past that never existed.  We’ve been intervening, and we’ve been doing it for a very long, long time.  Military campaigns waged without a formal authorized declaration by Congress is not a modern transgression of Constitutional requirements.

Congress has other ways of giving approval, other than formal declarations.  This happens anytime Congress appropriates funding. 

There have been only five declared wars by Congress.  Yet our Presidents since the time of Thomas Jefferson have engaged in at least 12-17+ undeclared wars (depending on how you count them), with some of them having been vitally important to America’s self-interest.

Other examples of the distant past (excerpt from Max Boot’s The Savage Wars of Peace:

Woodrow Wilson, for instance, ordered the marines to land in Veracruz in 1914 before the Senate had finished debating the matter.  The Philippine War, too, broke out before the Senate ratified the Treaty of Paris annexing the archipelago.  Congress has generally voted a declaration of war only in the event of hostilities with another major industrialized power and sometimes not even then; witness the quasi-war with France in 1798-1800.  Military operations in Third World nations have seldom been seen to require a formal declaration of war.

One of Ron Paul’s stock analogies goes along the lines of the following quote by him:

Can you imagine what it would be like if parts of the United States were occupied by a foreign power, if China was building military bases the size of the Vatican in Kansas? People would be up in arms!

His analogy is horribly flawed.  With Iraq, the U.S. is not a hostile power.  Neither are we a hostile, imperialistic force in ANY country we are in.  Germany and Japan benefited greatly from our "occupation", and continue to do so.  They are able to save money on military expenditure because they piggyback and rely upon us, as allies, to protect them.  It was in our best interest to help their countries, and in helping to build France back up as a consequential country on the world stage.  Really, after the 2nd War, France was nothing.  But we needed to help our European allies recover and become strong again, in light of the Stalinist threat.

I’ll also add to here, a comment Scott Malensek left in response to a RPer (who listed "150" countries, probably because RP himself mentions "130"):

the US has forces in a lot of countries, and in almost all cases as guests and at the request of those countries even to the benefit and request of their citizens. Too often paranoid politicos see the presence of US forces in 150 countries as imperialistic, but in places like Ramstein, or the UK, or Canada, or perhaps 130+ other countries, those troops are awfully welcome and help protect those people. American forces aren’t invading 150 countries, or terrorizing them, or even hurting them-quite the opposite. In fact, I’m not even sure the 150 country claim is accurate, and it certainly isn’t accurate to portray an image that the US is alone or even in a small group of countries that have forces in other nations (see also nations that contribute to UN peacekeeping etc).

More in a new post from Scott.

Maybe RP’s watched Red Dawn one too many times; but analogizing a China takeover of the U.S. to what our forces are accomplishing over in Iraq or elsewhere in the world is just logic-impaired.

Furthermore, historically, it is quite the norm for us to turn our warriors into social workers, as an occupying force.  As Max Boot writes,

Soldiers follow orders, and presidents have often found it convenient or necessary to order the armed services to perform functions far removed from conventional warfare.  Throughout U.S. history, marines at home and abroad have found themselves providing disaster relief, quelling riots, even guarding mail trains.  Soldiers also have often acted as colonial administrators- in the Philippines, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Veracruz, to say nothing of post-World War II Germany and Japan or the post-Civil War South.

In fact occupation duty is generally necessary after a big war in order to impose the victor’s will on the vanquished.  If ground forces win a battle and go home, as the Powell Doctrine advocates and as actually happened in the Gulf War, the fruits of victory are likely to wither on the vine.  Only boots on the ground can guarantee a lasting peace.

Boot goes on to point out (page 345-347 of The Savage Wars of Peace) how pacification campaigns and occupation of many third world countries made life better 

Many of these interventions also delivered tangible benefits to the occupied peoples.  Although American imperial rule was subject to its fare share of abuses, U.S. administrators, whether civilian or military, often provided the most honest and efficient government these territories had ever seen.  Haiti offers a particularly dramatic example.  The 1920s, spent under marine occupation, saw one of the most peaceful and prosperous decades in the country’s long and troubled history.

  Where we have been most successful with lasting impact, are in those places where we kept our forces for a long period of time. 

What does all this have to do with America’s national security interests?  If you cannot see it, then you are more than likely an isolationist; and being an RPer, one who demands we draw a distinction between an isolationist, and a non-interventionist.

And what is the price of non-intervention? 

Stalin was testing…probing America’s will and reach during the Cold War; what if we had sent a clear message to the Kremlin, that America was practicing a non-interventionist policy by allowing communism to spread to other countries?  Would the world be safer today?  Subsequently (because the answer would be a resounding "NO!"), would we be safer?  No. 

In 1939, what if Franklin Roosevelt did not find a way to provide military aid to Britain and France against the rise of Adolf Hitler?  Our late intervention in the war….did it make America safer?  Is it in America’s best interest, not to practice an interventionist policy to help protect our allies?  The very fact that we trade and do commerce with foreign nations, entangles us.

If one were to practice Paulian non-interventionism in one’s personal life, you would stand neutral or turn aside, not lifting a finger, while your girlfriend got mugged.  After all, you wouldn’t want to experience blowback from the mugger’s wrath, and have him mug you as well.

The Price of Nonintervention

In considering whether, based on the lessons of the past, we should undertake small wars in the future, we ought to remember not only the price of a botched intervention- Vietnam, Beirut, Somalia- but also the price of not intervening, or not intervening with sufficient determination.  Two examples come to mind:  Nicaragua and Russia.

In the former case, President Coolidge in 1925 withdrew from Managua the legation guard of 100 marines that had helped preserve stability for 13 years.  Within a few months, Nicaragua was once again embroiled in revolution, and many more marines returned for a much longer stay.

In revolutionary Russia, Woodrow Wilson and David Lloyd George missed a prime opportunity in 1918-1919 to help topple the nascent Bolshevik regime.  There is reason to believe that with slightly more Western help the Whites could have won the civil war- and in all likelihood changed the course of twentieth-century history immeasurably for the better.  These examples are worth balancing against the Vietnam analogies that inevitably, tiresomely pop up whenever the dispatch of American forces overseas is contemplated.

Chapter 15 Pax Americana, pg 346 The Savage Wars of Peace, by Max Boot

This RPer, at least has a well-reasoned constructive critique of Ron Paul’s "bring the troops home immediately" from everywhere, attitude:

I have serious reservations about the foreign policies Dr. Paul espouses. I do believe in non-interventionism in principle, but I do not believe that a nation’s foreign policies should be changed drastically in a very short period of time, and this is the impression I get of what Dr. Paul would have the US do if he became president. If the United States withdraws from South Korea and gives China a carte blanche to invade Taiwan, as Dr. Paul has suggested it do, that will cause a serious disruption in the world and decline of US’s economic strength. Even if the policy to get involved in East Asia was wrong to begin with, the US has made commitments to that region and has to live with the consequences of its commitments. Trillions of US investment dollars have flowed into Taiwan and South Korea as a result of the understanding that the US would protect by force any armed invasion of those countries by socialist nations. To change course and withdraw that guarantee of support is a betrayal of the highest magnitude and I believe cannot be justified in any way. Besides Taiwan and South Korea, China itself could nationalize trillions of dollars worth of American assets if it perceives that the US will no longer militarily respond to such a move. I’m not suggesting that if Ron Paul becomes president, then the next day China will nationalize all industries. What I do believe though is that if a policy of non-interventionism takes effect, China will probably take over Taiwan, and eventually, North Korea will take over South Korea. With a strengthened military and economic position, I very much believe China would then feel confident in nationalizing foreign owned assets in its country. The strategic landscape will be significantly altered to China’s advantage and Americans will lose hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars in assets they have invested in that country. This scenario is absolutely intolerable and must be avoided at all costs.

We live in an age where America can no longer enjoy the protections of two oceans, as it once did.  Although the Constitution is our compass and the North Star by which we may steer this nation, we must not be so inflexible as to not adapt to a world that our Founding Fathers could not have foreseen us living in.   America’s self-interest of free trade and commerce must extend to helping to protect the welfare and safety of our friends and allies.  Evil regimes must be stopped beyond our waters edge.

A nation’s first duty is within its borders, but it is not thereby absolved from facing its duties in the world as a whole; and if it refuses to do so, it merely forfeits its right to struggle for a place among the people that shape the destiny of mankind. – Theodore Roosevelt
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I like Ron Paul in principle, but he really does need to better clarify the time scales and degree that he hopes to use to implement any of his policies. I bet that we could bounce out of Europe quickly, and I don’t think that the South Koreans really need us anymore, but getting out of Iraq too quickly could be a bad thing if Dr. Paul also intends to withdraw our Navy leaving the Strait of Hormuz un-protected.

Same thing for shrinking the Federal Government drastically over night, he is going to have to ween the country off of its dependence on Government gradually otherwise it would create too much of an economic shock and the country would not have time to adjust, which would result in massive unemployment.

Great post! Too often political discourse is replaced by name calling or blind cheer leading. My main objection to US foreign policy is that our military is used as mercenary force to benefit third parties that won’t pay the bill. The oil concerns have pushed us into the middle east, not our humanitarian beliefs. If we go to war to aid mankind, we should be hip deep in Darfur and Congo. In your example of Taiwan, the question of who is benefiting from the investments comes to mind. If the US Govt can tap Halliburton or Brown & Root for security and nation building, so can GE & friends when they want to invest (make money) in unstable parts of the world.
I agree with JohnnyB – we can’t shrink the govt too quickly – but we can’t let it keep expanding at this rate because we can’t afford it.

Wow… as a Ron Paul supporter, I’ll have to say, thank you very much for actually providing substantial criticism instead of saying “Bah, he’s a tinfoil hat wearing moonbat and everyone who hates him are l0zers in their parents basements hahaha!!!1” I also think Ron Paul’s China analogy oversimplifies things a little, and I’m also not too happy about how he uses the Vietnam withdrawl example while entirely ignoring the attrocious re-education camps that followed.

Never the less, three points I want you to consider; Sadly, they’re more rhetorical than carefully researched like yours, but I’m sure some similar points can be found in Michael Scheurer’s books.

Iran has every right to hate us because of interventionism. We overthrew their Democratically elected leader, Mossadegh, because he tried to keep the nation’s oil out of British/American hands. Afterwards, the CIA trained one of the most terrifying secret police forces ever, the SAVAK, a group that would give the Japanese Kempeitai in WW2 a run for their money. This causes an even more radical regime to overthrew the Shah and take our hostages. How do we respond? By supporting Saddam Hussein’s side in the attrocious Iran-Iraq War. Now, we are declaring them an Axis of Evil, and are trying to provoke them.

Secondly, maybe the Taliban, a small fringe group, were born with an innate hatred for the US. I wouldn’t call it “They hate us for our freedom”, because if freedom was the main rallying call, they’d be more likely to attack Switzerland, or Sweden. More free. Much closer. But none the less, innate hatred, and Ron Paul would’ve been more than happy to go after them. However, if we ever get some blowback from Iraq in the next twenty years, it won’t be because they hate us for our freedom. Even though we came into Iraq with good intentions, we mismanaged it, and destablilized the region, resulting in a mass exodus, and at least 100,000 civilian deaths as collateral damage. It doesn’t matter who was at fault, they will look to the US as the enemy.

Lastly, while your post mentions some great examples of how interventionism has helped in other parts of the world (The Bolshevik one was especially good!) it fails to mention the Middle East, which I think is a valid example of interventionism having gone wrong. When you consider Mossadegh, the training of Osama, supporting Saddam in the Iraq-Iran war, meddling with Israel and Palestine, sanctions and so forth, I think that our policies in the Middle East should be called out for what they are: One giant well-intentioned, but flawed, corporatist, imperialist clusterfuck that will be very hard to untangle.

Steve wrote:

Great post! Too often political discourse is replaced by name calling or blind cheer leading.

and Paul wrote:

Wow… as a Ron Paul supporter, I’ll have to say, thank you very much for actually providing substantial criticism instead of saying “Bah, he’s a tinfoil hat wearing moonbat and everyone who hates him are l0zers in their parents basements hahaha!!!1”

Sheesh…serves me write for being more substantive and serious this time. You folks could grow on me. Thanks for the substantive and thoughtful responses, thus far.

Feel free though to name-call me in the previous unserious posts, where I bait you to accuse me of watching too much FOX News. I deserve it.

Paul, your points deserve more attention, but I have to leave for work for a few hours, soon. Please check back in.

Interventionism and isolationism are two different things.

Interventionism and isolationism are two different things.

I take it, you mean “Non-inteventionism and isolationism are two different things”?

NH, check this post for the non-distinction.

Iran has every right to hate us because of interventionism. We overthrew their Democratically elected leader, Mossadegh, because he tried to keep the nation’s oil out of British/American hands.

Paul, I think it might be a lot more complex than that. After all, “interventionism” didn’t begin with Mossadegh; neither did “blowback” begin or end with him. The U.S. was fighting a real war against the advancement of communism. They were testing us everywhere, practicing a very pro-interventionist policy in the world. The British convinced us that Mossadegh was turning toward communism and the Soviets. Wrongly or rightly, yes we “interfered” in Iranian politics. And it was in our self-interest to do so. What would the blowback of not having intervened, have been?

Well, If Mossadegh was turning toward the Soviets as ally, given communism’s track record of having slaughtered around a 100 million people in the 20th century (the majority happening in the second half of the century), what would the price have been for not exercising an interventionist policy in Iran?

The thing is, Jimmy Carter practiced an interventionist policy when he systematically began imposing requirements for foreign countries to observe basic human rights. Longtime allies throughout the world became objects of sharp criticism. What do you suppose the blowback was, from there?

This causes an even more radical regime to overthrew the Shah and take our hostages.

Which wouldn’t have happened, had Jimmy Carter practiced a “smart” interventionist policy, and actually backed our very pro-American, loyal ally. He did everything we asked of him, bowing to the pressures of the Carter Administration, to his demise. We shot ourselves in the foot because of our “dumb” non-intervention, at a time when the Shah needed America’s support. Not America’s arrogant, sanctimonious criticism. We enabled an even worse and brutal anti-American regime to come to power, because we were too much on our high horse under Carter to support a “bad”, pro-American dictator.

And the blowback from that:

How do we respond? By supporting Saddam Hussein’s side in the attrocious Iran-Iraq War.

Exactly! With a radical, theocratic regime that is one-half of the rise in militant Islam today, backed by the Soviet Union, why on earth would we not intervene, and support Saddam at the time, in the Iran-Iraq War? Had Iraq fallen, then, where would that have left us, today? Had Afghanistan successfully been taken over by the Soviets, what then? Or, should it be, “who would have been next”?

It is in our vested interest to participate on the world stage, politically and militarily.

Now, we are declaring them an Axis of Evil, and are trying to provoke them.

Isn’t it they, who are provoking us? Was it right of Ronald Reagan to declare the Soviet Union “an evil empire”?

Secondly, maybe the Taliban, a small fringe group, were born with an innate hatred for the US. I wouldn’t call it “They hate us for our freedom”, because if freedom was the main rallying call, they’d be more likely to attack Switzerland, or Sweden. More free. Much closer. But none the less, innate hatred, and Ron Paul would’ve been more than happy to go after them.

Paul, I think the Taliban in Afghanistan is a prime example model for Iraq, of what happens when you don’t occupy a country, in the aftermath of an overthrow.

After the Soviet menace was gone from Afghanistan, we left a vacuum there. One that the Taliban came in and filled, with their fundamentalist theology and intolerance of other religions (remember the destruction of those centuries-old Buddhist statues?). Osama has said the Taliban was the closest so far, to an Islamic ideal; and they wish to set the same style of governance in Iraq, with Baghdad declared the capitol of a new super-Islamic Caliphate.

Lastly, while your post mentions some great examples of how interventionism has helped in other parts of the world (The Bolshevik one was especially good!) it fails to mention the Middle East, which I think is a valid example of interventionism having gone wrong. When you consider Mossadegh, the training of Osama, supporting Saddam in the Iraq-Iran war, meddling with Israel and Palestine, sanctions and so forth, I think that our policies in the Middle East should be called out for what they are: One giant well-intentioned, but flawed, corporatist, imperialist clusterfuck that will be very hard to untangle.

I think “non-interventionism” is a deeply flawed and misguide principal and ideology. It’s like saying you’re against change and pro-tradition…as if you could ever preserve tradition and fixate it in time. Change is a natural consequence of life. It is an exercise in futility, to resist it. Even the deepest traditionalist will be influenced, corrupted by the mere exposure of it. Ask the Amish if they aren’t affected by the changes in the world around them.

The Islamic fundamentalists understand this. This is why they feel threatened by modernity and our way of life; of America’s influence in the world. This is why they hate us for our “freedoms”, and will not “leave us alone” simply because we attempt to follow some non-existent fairy tale philosophy of “non-interventionism”. The very presence of those Buddhist statues were an affront to them. Were those statues “intervening” on their Islamic way of life? Are the statues to blame? Would such a regime stop there?

For the Islamic radicals who are active participants, supporters, apologists, and sympathizers in the “jihad” movement, our very existence is an affront to them. an obscenity.

This is the missing ingredient that Ron Paul does not factor into his foreign policy equation.

You cannot isolate a strict “non-interventionist” philosphy, and say you still believe in free trade and commerce. The very act of creating ties, dialogue, interaction with other nations is “interventionism”. Politics, military, social intervention is all intertwined. Cultural cross-pollination will occur, and this is what the Islamists fear and won’t allow.

Jimmy Carter was wrong to politically intervene in helping bring about the fall of the Shah; he was also wrong in not militarily intervening to support the Shah from being driven out of power.

There is good interventionism and there is bad interventionism practice. There is no such thing as non-interventionism. And it goes back to the semantics of whether or not Ron Paul is an isolationist or non-interventionist.

However, if we ever get some blowback from Iraq in the next twenty years, it won’t be because they hate us for our freedom.

It would probably be because we failed to follow through on Iraq, having given in to the anti-war movement, the will of al-Qaeda, and spineless politicians back in Washington.

Even though we came into Iraq with good intentions, we mismanaged it, and destablilized the region,

The Middle East has been unstable for a very long time. Although, I do get your point.

Just understand that winning wars and establishing democracy and peace is a process. It takes time, patience, and intestinal fortitude to outlast the enemy.

resulting in a mass exodus, and at least 100,000 civilian deaths as collateral damage. It doesn’t matter who was at fault, they will look to the US as the enemy.

Do you believe that the majority of Iraqis are our enemies?

When will the world begin blaming Islamic radicals for the slaughter of thousands of innocent Iraqis? Why is America to blame? Because Muslim upon Muslim violence wouldn’t be occurring had we not gone into Iraq to remove Saddam? Blame needs to be put squarely where it belongs. Otherwise, we’ll be stretching the “blowback” all the way to Adam and Eve. For if Eve hadn’t bitten from the apple….

Of course, you can go straight to the Big Man Himself, and hold him accountable. For without him, none of the miseries in the world would be happening right now.

Blowback isn’t just what happened to us on 9/11. It goes in both directions, and sometimes just plain lashes out in all.

Once again, you take a statement with a hint of truth, and then mis characterize its meaning.

“We’ve been intervening, and we’ve been doing it for a very long, long time. Military campaigns waged without a formal authorized declaration by Congress is not a modern transgression of Constitutional requirements”

So, we are to believe since many other uses of the military were undeclared, and that this has happened so often before, it is OK for it to happen in Iraq, and we are to believe that the war in iraq fits nicely in a category with every other non-declared use of force. This is far from the truth.

The non-declared wars prior to WWI were few. The case of the barbary pirates was a limited action, that included issueing of latters of marque and reprisal. More recently, Interventions in Granada, Panama, Haiti, Lebanon and Somalia, to name a few, were limited engagements with only small percentages of our forces involved, and with no long term commitments to the area.

Viet nam, was long term and had substantial military involvement, but even the Vietnam intervention was not a war aimed at regime change or invasion.

The thing that sets Iraq and Afghanistan wars apart from even Vietnam, is that part of the goal of the action was the invasion and destruction of the current regime of a sovereign country. I support the action in Afghanistan, but would have liked to have seen a declaration. Iraq definitely needed a declaration.

Then there is Korea, Kosovo, Bosnia, and the first Gulf war, All UN or NATO wars. Why not declare war in Korea and the first Gulf war ? (The mistakes leading up to the Kuwait invasion notwithstanding) As for the participation in Kosovo and Bosnia, I have serious reservations about these, in particular the concept that NATO or the UN can be the authorizing agent for a military action.

Wordsmith: There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the bravo post above. You have outdone and excelled beyond your usual exemplary standard.

It’s enough to make the Grim RP’ers heads explode, but I am glad to see that your efforts did at least attract a handful who didn’t deserve the standard response: ” tinfoil hat wearing moonbat and everyone who hates him are l0zers in their parents basements.” Maybe there’s hope for them yet.

On the other hand, I’m still waiting for Galt to acknowledge his factual and historically inaccurate, misleading comments regarding Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech. Until we get that cleared up, I’ll stand by with an extra tin foil hat just in case he needs one.

The only thing I would add to the discussion is a link to the Constitution:

http://www.archives.gov/national-archives-experience/charters/constitution_transcript.html

If you look at Article I, Section 8 you see the powers of Congress enumerated including the power to “declare war.”

No where in the Constitution does it say what form that declaration must take, or that it must be taken at all prior to the use of the U.S. military.

This business about Iraq being illegal, or unconstitutional because it was not “declared” is another of those mindless points which only serve to distract from the fundamental issues and discussions of effective strategy to pursue in dealing with the Islamist threat.

Of course, as soon as the Grim RPers drop the Constitution canard, they simply pick up another one (like terrorism is as threatening as “swimming pools”) and run with it. But at some point, this House of Canards is going to come crashing down.

And again, I want to know what they will do when they realize how empty the promises of Ron Paul really are? Will they pick up their marbles and go home and watch bitterly as President Hillary destroys what’s left of their Libertarian program? Or will they help a GOP candidate with whom they have fundamental disagreements, but who, on the whole, would be less disastrous to their ideals?

“If you look at Article I, Section 8 you see the powers of Congress enumerated including the power to “declare war.”

No where in the Constitution does it say what form that declaration must take, or that it must be taken at all prior to the use of the U.S. military.

This business about Iraq being illegal, or unconstitutional because it was not “declared” is another of those mindless points which only serve to distract from the fundamental issues and discussions of effective strategy to pursue in dealing with the Islamist threat.”

Oh give me a break. Had congress lived up to their responsibility and declared the war properly, they would have been forced to have the debate then instead of now and would have saved us billions of dollars, saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, if not eventually millions and we wouldnt have done untold damage to our reputation around the world.

If congress properly debated the issue before the war in preparation for a proper declaration, they could have realized that the evidence against Saddam was flimsy at best, intentionally deceptive and treasonous at worst and we might have saved ourselves from committing the colossal clusterfuck that is iraq. All it would have taken is some hard questioning on the prewar intelligence for the house of cards to come tumbling down.

Eekman: Were you under a rock during the runup to the October 2002 vote? All we did was debate. And debate and debate some more.

We debated Iraq since they invaded Kuwait in 1989.

We’ve debated in Congress. Debated at the UN and debated in nearly every election in the years between 1989 and 2002 and BEYOND.

You’re problem is that you LOST the debate and the adults remained in charge. Deal with it. Grow up!

Wordsmith: Do we have any of those tin foil hats left? EEKman lost his!

Why is it important for Congress to declare war in any major use of U.S. forces ?

Because the Congress has to then TAKE RESPONSIBILITY DIRECTLY for the conflict. With the Iraq war authorization, congress can hedge, and then blame the president if it goes wrong. Further the people can vote every two years to get rid of their congressman, making them more sensitive to the will of the people. Generally, Congressmen are less likely to declare war rashly, than they are to authorize the president.

As far as the house divided speech, it was as much about the risk of secession (or lack of risk) as it was about slavery. You need to put it in context. Any relationship with the iraq war argument is a stretch at best, and it certainly has nothing to do with the value of public opposition or support for the war.

Again, here’s the link John:

http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/house.htm

Show me where Lincoln referred to secession!

It’s your intellectual integrity that’s at stake here. And that has a direct impact on how seriously I, or anyone else, should take your opinions on Iraq.

Ok Here is the statement.

I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.

Even The wikipedians report that this is about , the dangers of disunion – “The speech created a lasting image of the danger of disunion because of slavery, and it rallied Republicans across the North.”

As for the Iraq war and the war on terror, let me use an admittedly over simplified analogy. Imagine you are a little nerdy kid in 3rd grade, and you really don’t like the biggest toughest kid in the class, because he is always getting the other kids to play baseball instead of D&D. How do you fight him and win ? In a stand up fight he would kick your ass.

What you do is you goad him. you keep doing little annoying things that make him mad, hoping that he will over react. The more he reacts to you, the more the other kids see him as a threat to them too. If you can make him over react, and hit you, for what is seemingly a minor annoyance, you win, because then all the kids will be against him and will sympathize with you for the injustice done to you.

If you are the Big kid, best to back off, ignore and marginalise the nerdy Kid.

drop the Constitution canard, they simply pick up another one

I’m sure some people do do this, but on the other hand it’s also easy to get this impression if you’re arguing with a bunch of people at once. I was never particularly impressed with the arguments (about the war) based on constitutionality, nor do I support Paul because I think he’s the self-styled ‘The Champion of the Constitution’. Even for things like second amendment rights, where the constitution is fairly clear, supporters should have some backup arguments to explain why the constitutional position is *also* a good one – otherwise opponents can rightly say ‘well, surely you’ll support an amendment to change things, then!’ (like that clown George Will wrt the second amendment).
So, anyway, my green-eyeshade argument about swimming pool deaths is not a dodge from some previous position.

Will they pick up their marbles and go home

Interesting question. There are things I dislike about all the candidates (including Paul), and it’s not easy for me to figure out who my second choice will be. The following are quite important to me:

– opposition to illegal immigration
– support for civil liberties; and in this I include support for habeas corpus and opposition to torture, as well as warrantless wiretapping
– fiscal conservatism
– opposition to the war on drugs
– a federalist stance on other issues, such as homeschooling, health supplements, and whatever else (ideally, abortion and drug laws as well)
– opposition to federalization of healthcare
– conservative (in the sense of cautious, prudent, not radical) foreign policy.

So you can see where I run into problems with everyone including Paul (whose foreign policy is too radical, even if I agree with the general direction of less foreign involvement), and the Libertarians themselves (who are squishy-soft on illegal immigration in addition to sharing Paul’s radical foreign policy). To begin with, of course, almost everyone (on the R side) seems to support the War on Drugs, torture, detention without trial, and increased surveillance with decreased oversight. This pisses me off (and strikes me as deeply unamerican) and is a big reason why I support Paul. On the D side, I can find some candidates who are OK on these issues, but they support illegal immigration (drooling over the prospect of a demographic lock for the Democrats I imagine) and government healthcare, and are reliably lousy on federalism generally.
Possibly Thompson will have to be choice #2, assuming he outlasts Paul.

“In May of 1801, the Corsairs of Tripoli became restless and declared war on the United States”

This was not done by a written law (as they were,afterall–pirates) but by cutting down the flagpole of the US Consulate.

So a comparison to Iraq is not entirely correct. Because while Tripoli WANTED War with us, and committed an act of War AGAINST us, Iraq did not.

A brilliant entry though. I am a Ron Paul supporter, and i’m glad to see this kind of intelligent dialoguem rather than the typical, “He is anti-war and therefor liberal!” bullshit.

Why do we have so many cowards in our country today?
Why would anyone support such a cowardly act as the invasion and continued occupation of a sovereign nation that didn’t attack or threaten us?
People need to stop being afraid of the bogeyman and grow up.
Frankly, these cowards make me sick.

isolationism = I won’t speak to my neighbors

interventionism = I go over to my neighbor’s house and tell his kids what to do

non-interventionism = I can still speak to my neighbor, but not tell his kids what to do

ergo,

isolationsim ≠ non-interventionism

A very good counter to this article can be read by historian Thomas Woods:
http://www.lewrockwell.com/woods/woods45.html

So Jefferson can use his presidential powers to fight off a handful of pirates and that somehow justifies Iraq?

Please… this typical neocon argument has been used before with no success. It proves nothing first of all because you’re comparing apples and oranges, secondly because you bloat some of your facts, and thirdly because even if your pirate examples are legit, wrong actions in the past do not justify or current mistakes.

“Yet our Presidents since the time of Thomas Jefferson have engaged in at least 12-17+ undeclared wars.”

Oh really? Who were the terrorists that hated us then? What were the names of those wars? How many years did those wars last? How deep in debt did we go by funding these wars?

Throwing out numbers is pretty easy, backing it up factually with valid examples is another story.

Wordsmith writes:

“Furthermore, historically, it is quite the norm for us to turn our warriors into social workers, as an occupying force”…

Try this on for size and see if it makes sense. “Furthermore it is quite the norm” for us to allow illegal immigrants to cross our borders. Furthermore it is quite the norm for us to vote for unbalanced budgets. Furthermore it is quite the norm that we spy on citizens, it is quite the norm that we establish a welfare state through so many of our socialist policies.

You’re going to have to do better than that. Providing examples of past mistakes DOES NOT justify the current mistakes.

I also find it troubling that you fail to understand the definition between isolation and non-intervention.

Many people here and abroad would disagree with your opinion that “the U.S. is not a hostile power”. Even if we aren’t, have we not funded and aided hostile powers and conitnue to do so now – including the state of Israel? Yes, we do. I believe that’s called intervention and is precisely the peril of our entangling foreign policy.

I think fighting the barbary pirates and raiding their bases without a declaration of war is a little different than invading a sovereign nation for regime change, and then occupying it for 5 years afterwards, all without a declaration of war.

I think the role of the military industrial complex and AIPAC (and the rest of the Jewish nationalists) shouldn’t be ignored.

So…did we enjoy the protection of two oceans during the Revolutionary War?

Or how about during the war of 1812, when the British sailed over and burned Washington D.C?

Or how about during WWII, when Hawaii got bombed and we had German submarines off our coasts?

That whole “two oceans” thing is 100% bullshit.