FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Declaration of War: Not Just a Good Idea, It’s the Law

by

The US Constitution confers upon Congress the legal power to declare war.

Or, to put it a different way, if Congress hasn’t declared war, then the United States is not, in any legal sense, at war.

No, an “authorization for use of military force” is not a declaration of war. In fact, AUMFs come right out and say they’re not declarations of war (the sections that say so are referred to as “war powers reservation clauses”).

From these facts, it follows that each and every one of the 90,000 or so US combat deaths since the final casualty of World War II — a B-32 gunner named Anthony Marchione, killed over Japan in August of 1945 — as well as all “enemy” casualties in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and numerous smaller conflicts, were and remain war crimes. And that the politicians responsible are, yes, war criminals.

Now, US president Barack Obama has announced yet another count in the 70-year-long chain of criminal conspiracies to kill American military men and women, as well as foreign combatants and non-combatants. He plans to send US special operations troops into Syria, ostensibly to fight the Islamic State but also, and he’s not very coy about it, to overthrow Syria’s existing government.

Disclosure: Since leaving the US Marine Corps 20 years ago, I’ve personally become more and more anti-war in temperament. But even if I hadn’t, I’d like to think that looking back on seven decades of complete lawlessness as regards US military adventurism would lead me to the same conclusion.

If Congress isn’t willing to take the simple step of voting to declare war, why should the rest of us pretend that it has done so?

Why should ordinary Americans pick up the tab in blood and treasure for conflicts that can’t garner the plain, open, unqualified support of 218 US Representatives and 51 US Senators?

Why should ordinary Americans yield the extraordinary  powers and prerogatives war portends to politicians too craven to put the thing in writing and vote its passage?

No, I don’t believe requiring Congress to declare war before waging war will end war.

No, I don’t believe requiring Congress to declare war before waging war will make war less bloody or less horrifying or more humane.

But it might make them move a little more slowly and thoughtfully when it comes to condemning thousands, even millions, to violent death.

More articles by:

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
 North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
Binoy Kampmark
Death on the Road: Memory in Tim Winton’s Shrine
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail