The Pentagon has completed is 30 Day review of its ISIS strategy, and today will present that to the White House for consideration of future efforts against ISIS. The President has made it clear that he wants to spend more – much more – on the military. I think that is a good idea. We need the best and the most of it. The question is – what are we planning to do with it?
The Pentagon has made it clear that it wants another “Authorization for the Use of Military Force” to allow it to go after ISIS, full bore. Currently, we operate on the 2001 AUMF specifying that Al-Qaeda and its “affiliates” are the only legitimate targets. That seems to make the military nervous, as it is not crystal clear that ISIS is AQ.
Since 1973, really since 1950, the US has not declared war on any other nation. That covers four major wars (Korea, Vietnam, Gulf 1, GWOT) and countless other “uses of military force” without an actual Declaration of War. In fact, since 1945 the US Congress has declared that a state of war exists exactly zero times.
Now, you could argue that the so-called “Authorization of Use of Military Force” is de facto the same thing, but is it? And if the President says that he has the “authority to act” even if Congress doesn’t give him the AUMF, have we really gained any control over whether or not the nation is sent into combat by a single person or behind a united front?
In April of 1917, the Congress of the US debated and even filibustered Woodrow Wilsons request to declare war on Germany. There was discussion, expression of concerns. Debate. And even though the patriotic fervor sweeping the nation after the infamous Zimmerman Telegram made it clear that the people wanted war with Germany, the fact is that the people made it clear through their representatives that we wanted war with Germany.
War is messy, deadly, destructive and leaves in its wake devastation unimaginable to us today. We have no idea what war is anymore. And the Orwellian language we use to send our men and women into harms way, makes certain that we don’t ever take the time to really contemplate it.
But shouldn’t we?