As President Obama described his plans for increasing military action in the Middle East, he concluded with, “I welcome the support of Congress in this effort.” He considers the support of Congress optional because it is not a war, only an “effort.” What is the difference? Do you know?
No matter who is making this decision, should such a weighty matter ever be left to only one person? People can die because one person woke up cranky that morning. Has this become the American way?
The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war since they set the rules for the military, and the President as commander-in-chief is merely to execute their orders. The result is that nothing is a war anymore. Our latest military action is not the third war with Iraq, as it would appear—it is not even the first. We speak now only of “efforts” and “actions.”
The ploy of avoiding the w-word is not a Republican-Democrat thing, or a Conservative-Liberal thing. We invaded Panama to capture Noriega and even that was not a war because he was declared a criminal and not a belligerent. Should such important decisions be determined by fine points of legalese? Wasn’t the whole purpose of our Constitution to form a government where decisions were made by a consensus of many individuals, each representing a much larger group of citizens?
Politicians have become too smart for the framers of the Constitution. We need a set of rules for whenever our country wants to kill a citizen of another country, even if only indirectly by supplying the weapon, the intel, and the training. Perhaps events today move too quickly for each response to require a full act of Congress, but something is needed beyond the decision of one person.