No Time for Cowboy Politics

by Michael Ratner

Congress has approved resolutions giving the President 40 billion dollars and open-ended authority to use military force. The Senate and House have authorized him to attack any nation, organization or person involved in or that aided the September 11 terrorist attacks. The resolutions name no county or group as targets and contain no time limit. The only positive aspect of these resolutions is the fact that President Bush sought and received the approval of Congress, as the Constitution requires. However the use of unlimited military force that the resolutions allow is dangerous, irresponsible policy.

A massive military response against a country, presumably Afghanistan, appears unwarranted and could potentially kill thousands of civilians. The initial steps should be to identify, extradite, try and punish the perpetrators of these acts in a court of law. Only if this fails should force be used for effectuating arrests. The focus should be on the perpetrators and organizations; it should not be on wars with other nations.

Employing military force out of anger, for purposes of retaliation or to satisfy domestic outrage is unlawful and does nothing to end terrorism. Massive bombing continues the cycle of violence that invariable creates sympathizers who become the new terrorist. War will make us more vulnerable. In the wake of the embassy bombing in East Africa the U.S. used military tactics striking Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan killing innocent people. This did not stop or even slow terrorism. Arguably, those actions may have sown the seeds of September 11.

Dangerously this congressional resolution contains no time limit, no congressional oversight and no requirements that the President ever come back to Congress for additional authority. This, unlike prior authorizations of force e.g. authorization to use force in Lebanon, gives the President unlimited power without the checks and balances of the Constitution. It eviscerates congressional control over the use of force and puts the power of war into the hands of one man, leading us quickly from democracy to one-man rule.

The resolution permits the use of military force against nations that “aid[ed]” the September 11 attack “Aid” is a vague, broad concept that may permit attacks on nations with only a tenuous relationship to the terrorist acts. This determination will be made with no congressional check and without any requirement of congressional approval.

The President should obtain the authority of the U.N. Security Council to use military force. This is what his father did in going to war against Iraq. Multilateral action through the U.N. will be more effective in fighting terrorism than going it alone, obtaining such consent is both responsible law and policy.

Finally, we share in the hope that those responsible for these heinous acts will be caught and punished. But we fear that the course our country is currently embarked upon is fraught with danger for us all. CP

Michael Ratner is director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
Lars Jørgensen
Vive la Résistance
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
James Anderson
Reframing Black Friday: an Imperative for Déclassé Intellectuals
Simon Bowring
UN Climate Talks 2009: a Merger of Interest and Indifference
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxembourg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
Aidan O'Brien
Same-Sex Sellout in Ireland
David Stocker
Report from the Frontline of Resistance in America
Patrick Bond
China Sucked Deeper Into World Financial Vortex and Vice Versa, as BRICS Sink Fast
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
Charles R. Larson
Chronicle of Sex Reassignment Surgery: Juliet Jacques’s “Trans: a Memoir”
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
CounterPunch’s Favorite Films
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce