During the last sixteen years, we have gone to war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, and are carrying out military actions in many other nations including Pakistan, Yemen, Somali, and Syria. Many think these actions required a declaration of war by Congress and were unconstitutional. All of these foreign entanglements have cost us an estimated $4 trillion in direct and indirect dollars.
On September 18th, 2001, in the Iraq Resolution, Congress gave the president the unprecedented-in-our-history power to go to war (referred to at the time as Authorization to Use Military Force). This is an authority that our founders were strongly opposed to the president ever having, and they spelled this out in the constitution. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, prior to the September 18, 2001 vote to approve the AUMF, said “As we act, let us not become the evil we deplore.” The vote to approve was 518 to 1, with the one opposing vote coming from Barbara Lee.
U.S. unilateral or supported military actions brought al-Qaeda to Iraq, ISIS to Afghanistan and Libya, and an ongoing living hell for many in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen. .Many believe that U.S. military actions have created the Islamic State. They believe strong, cooperative police actions with our allies were the correct response. Until the United States ends its aggression, military presence and support in the Arab world, it is doubtful that any resolution of these conflicts is possible.
To create a safer, more secure world for all the citizens of our planet and end the tremendous price being paid by our military families and civilians abroad, we must:
- Stop starting unnecessary wars and engaging in military conflicts around the globe.
- Choose diplomacy and international cooperation over military solutions that decrease our security by creating more hatred for us and more enemies willing to resort to terrorism.
- Reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation by signing or at a minimum supporting with reservations or exclusions the Montreal/United Nations Treaty to ban nuclear arms, and enacting the proposed non-first strike legislation that states “It is the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first”.
- End military support to Saudi Arabia that has spread a fundamentalist, intolerant version of Islam across the Muslim world and in Germany, and has been connected in some ways to 945 reported attacks in the west including 911, the giving of financial and logistical support to ISIS and al-Qaeda and carrying out the horrendous bombing and famine-inducing blockade of Yemen.
- Greatly reduce military aid to Israel until there is a peace settlement.
- Pursuing the declaration of peace called the People’s Peace Treaty [link: https://www.veteransforpeace.org/take-action/peoples-peace-treaty-north-korea/ ] with North Korea which calls on the U.S. and North Korea to immediately cease their reciprocal threats of nuclear war, for the U.S. to end the war games with South Korea and Japan that have elevated the risk of accidental war on the peninsula, and negotiate the peace treaty called for at the end of the Korean War.
- End our support of dictatorships including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uganda, and Honduras reflected in past, historic support for El Salvador, Argentina and Guatemala, and the overthrow of democratically elected governments in Iran, Guatemala and Honduras.
The founders and Lincoln on War Powers
- James Madison wrote that “the constitution supposes what the history of all government demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the legislature.” In 1848, Lincoln called war-making the “most oppressive of all kingly oppressions” and declared that “no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon is.”
Supporting Messages from our Generals and Soldiers
- On February 27, 2017, 120 retired three- and four-star generals delivered this message to Congress: “We know from our service in uniform that many of the crises our nation faces do not have military solutions alone…The reported budget proposal to strip America’s civilian forces back to 9/11 funding levels is unfathomable given today’s global threats from ISIS to pandemics like Ebola. If we’re going to put America first, we can’t tie the hands of our diplomats and development workers, fighting alongside our soldiers to keep our country safe.”
- Gen Douglas MacArthur in May 1951 said, “It is part of our misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear.”
- President and General Dwight Eisenhower, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed….This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. Under the cloud of threatening war: it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
- Veterans For Peace Executive Director, Michael McPherson said, “It is clearer to me than ever that the only way we will succeed in confronting and ending war is through working for peace at Home and abroad. They are inextricably linked. …. When enough of us believe peace is possible and work to bring it about at home and abroad: we will have peace,”
- Two of the five precepts by Eisenhower in 1953 say: “No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice,” and “A nation's hope of lasting peace cannot be firmly based upon any race in armaments but rather upon just relations and honest understanding with all other nations.”
- Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of the U. S. Command in Africa said, “We could knock off all of ISIL and Boko Haram this afternoon, but by the end of the week, those ranks would be filled. Many people, especially those in uniform, have said we can’t kill our way to victory here.”
- Retired Army General Mike Flynn, top intelligence official in the post 9/11 years has asserted the U.S invasion of Iraq helped create the Islamic state.
- Gen Stanley McChrystal, who Defense secretary Robert Gates described as “…perhaps the greatest warrior and leader of men in combat I (have) ever met,” said speaking of the people under surveillance and attack any moment by drones where he was stationed in Afghanistan, “Americans do not realize how “viscerally (they) are hated and they create ten terrorists for every one killed.”
- Former Army Captain K. Chappell, Iraq Veteran, West Point Graduate, stated in his book, The Art of Waging Peace. “From a strategic, economic and security perspective, our response to the terrorist attacks of September 11 has created more problems than it has solved.” “The greatest threat to our country is actually from within. Our current approach to fighting terrorism not only threatens to bankrupt (financially) our country but it is also causing many of our politicians to betray American ideals.” And, “We have become our own greatest threat to our survival, which is an alarming yet incredible fact.”
- Andrew Schoerke, a retired Navy captain, said, paraphrasing, in Syracuse at a conference on drones, ‘I took an oath in 1956 to protect my country against enemies foreign and domestic. The greatest threat today to my country is our domestic leader’s unnecessary wars that are creating blowback and hatred against us. Osama Bin Laden gave three reasons for 911: U.S. bases on sacred Saudi Arabia soil, 500,000 child deaths in Iraq caused by sanctions and major military support for Israel. (Note the U.S. Catholic bishops in 1998 begged Clinton to stop the sanctions as they were not effective and causing immense suffering.)
- In support of retired Captain Schoneke’s belief - A letter written before a past Mother’s Day to American mothers from an Iraqi mother, said, “My sister, American Mother. I say sister because we are sisters in humanity and we both lived through hard times imposed on us by your government under many false perceptions to justify its invasion of my country. What we lived through as mothers during and after this invasion took the lives of hundreds of thousands of our children.... We pray to God that you don’t have to go through such pain, and we hope that you, and history, will never forget what your government did to our country for no reason but to destroy it and exploit its resources." -May Al Sharbati