North Texas Daily

Letter: It’s time to reevaluate how the United States goes to war

Letter: It’s time to reevaluate how the United States goes to war

June 07
18:34 2016

Christian Bennett

In modern times, the people of the United States have been no stranger to an environment where the government oversteps its bounds – starting and ending with the executive branch.

At the beginning of his campaign through the initial years of his first term and beyond, President Barack Obama promised he would work to remove troops from the Middle East, while at the same time resolve the conflicts which plagued the region.

Now in 2016, as troops slowly begin to return the Middle East, the enemy has merely changed its name and the promise of a “hands-off” approach is slimming. Objectively, Barack Obama has now been at war longer than any other United States president, ever.

One would think that after seven years, our president would try to start his withdraw, but reality is much to the contrary. He will be sending 250 special forces troops to Syria in the near future in addition to the near 5,000 regular combat troops already in place in Iraq with another 10,000 in Afghanistan – not including temporary duty troops, Marines guarding embassies or other outposts and soldiers rotating in to replace other troops, none of which are counted in that number.

The question remains: What could even the truly amazing special forces soldiers do to curb the situation in a positive direction? What about the 250 ‘moderate rebels’ that were trained at the cool cost of $500 million? How did that end up working out for us?

On top of this, Obama has approved airstrikes against terrorist organizations in Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, totaling seven countries in which his administration has taken military action.

A whopping $100 billion dollars has been spent between Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush on nation building in Afghanistan alone. As our current infrastructure is failing all around us here in the United States, Obama continues on his same path of constant bombing and rebuilding.

What actually gives Obama his authority to go to war? What allows him to continue on this path of constant, wasteful an insurmountable warfare?

Nothing.

The Constitution strictly states that only Congress shall have power to “declare war, grant letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.”

Many members of Congress disregard the effects of America’s longest global conflict, and still use the terrorist attacks of Sep. 11, 2001 to justify involvement in the Middle East. The ramifications of Authorization for Use of Military Force, which was passed in 2001 and 2003 in order for President George W. Bush to engage in war in Iraq and Afghanistan, can still be felt.

It is time to re-examine the legal relationship of congressional and executive power. The costs of this war, measured in both life and money, far outweigh the so-called positives that the last 15 plus years have produced.

In future Senate hearings, Kentucky senator and former presidential candidate Rand Paul will introduce an amendment to the upcoming defense bill which states that neither the 2001 AUMF or the 2003 Iraq AUMF is applicable to the global landscape of today, and should be revoked. It will also state that if the wars are to continue, congressional approval of an act of war must be passed.

“One generation cannot bind another generation to perpetual war. Our Constitution mandates that war be authorized by Congress. Period,” Paul said in an article written for Time. “My colleagues who have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution should support my amendment or at least have the decency to debate it.”

It is not the goal of this amendment to completely end intervention in the Middle East, only to restore congressional authority in declaring war.

Many, even those in his own party, dismiss Paul’s foreign policy ideals, calling him an “isolationist.” This could not be further from the truth – it is merely the act of a constitutionally-minded individual attempting to restore sovereignty to a body of government.

Whether or not one agrees that the constant wars in the Middle East are wasteful or unproductive, could it not be argued that the balance of power has dramatically shifted in favor of the executive branch in recent years, and that authority should be reconsidered?

In the past 60 years, the United States has seen catastrophic involvement in Korea, Vietnam and that which is continuing to grow in the Middle East. Is it not time to reconsider the balance of power before we march off to another war?

Christian Bennett is an industrial technology major at the University of Texas at Tyler university member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity. 

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