Friday, December 14, 2007

Objections Addressed, Part 1

In October (Wow! I haven’t been here in awhile, huh?), I included a short post entitled Who is Ron Paul? All that was included in the post was a YouTube video and a simple observation and question: “He had me at ‘Constitution’. What about you?” Well, never ask a question if you don’t want to know the answer.

I received a few comments and emails with some questions and (passionate) responses that I wanted to address specifically and in some detail, so I will be doing that in a short series of posts over the next couple of weeks. Again, please leave a comment or send an email to agree, disagree, or otherwise propel the discussion. All I ask is that you do so civilly.

The most passionate response I received was from one of my dearest friends who I’ve known since college. I am christening him “Bill” for the purposes of this discussion. He and his wife are like a brother and sister to Frodo and I. Bill and Frodo usually get into intense religious and political discussions whenever they talk, and I always found this a little amusing since they probably agree 90% of the time, but if you walked in in the middle of one of their conversations, you might not believe it. It is like a tennis match between two relatively equally matched players but one has a slightly better serve and the other has the mildly superior backhand… neither is so superior that they become discouraged but their complimentary strengths make them better players in the end. Anyway, all that to say, I love him… be nice (to both of us). *grin*

Bill gave me his permission to publish his email:

Ron Paul is an insult to all those serving abroad, and does not understand the Constitution, at all. If he feels that only Congress should deploy troops, then STOP FUNDING THEIR MOVEMENT!

This is a symptom that afflicts so many - the idea that the military can have, in effect, 535 Commanders-in-Chief.

Of all the Republican candidates (and I don't know who I support yet), he is most offensive to me. Thankfully, most of America thinks so too.

Iraq is not a mistaken policy - sure, mistakes have been made, as in any war. To pull out of Iraq is shortsighted, and any potential leader that thinks so should be avoided at all costs.

I’ll start at the beginning:

Ron Paul is an insult to all those serving abroad, and does not understand the Constitution, at all. If he feels that only Congress should deploy troops, then STOP FUNDING THEIR MOVEMENT!

This is a symptom that afflicts so many - the idea that the military can have, in effect, 535 Commanders-in-Chief.

Dr. Paul is in favor of pulling our troops out of Iraq as soon as possible. He has a few reasons for this, but the primary one is that the war was undeclared and therefore unconstitutional. After 9/11, Dr. Paul (as a member of Congress) approved the funds for our military to go into Afghanistan to accomplish a specific mission. In his address to the nation at the beginning of operation Enduring Freedom on the afternoon of October 7, 2001, President Bush enumerated our military’s goals as follows:

On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations, and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime.

As he concluded his address, President Bush stated:

To all the men and women in our military -- every sailor, every soldier, every airman, every coastguardsman, every Marine -- I say this: Your mission is defined; your objectives are clear; your goal is just.

The goal was clear, shut down the al Qaeda terrorist training camps, capture their leaders so they could be brought to justice, and maim the Taliban’s military capability. Our soldiers fought well, and on March 8, 2002 then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stated:

We've now pretty much completed the phase of taking the Taliban out of Afghanistan's government and putting the al Qaeda on the run. They're no longer capable of using Afghanistan as a safe haven and that's terribly important…

…It is not possible for bin Laden to be using Afghanistan effectively as a haven for terrorism. He's not recruiting there. He's not training there. He's not raising money there. He's on the run.

Also, numerous sources (you can read some here, here, and here) believe that Osama bin Laden fled into Pakistan during the battle of Tora Bora in December of 2001.

My understanding of these events is as follows- We did not declare war when we went into Afghanistan because a terrorist group that was being actively supported by Afghanistan’s government attacked us on our own soil, therefore the government was complicit in the attack and in effect declared war on us. Therefore, we were retaliating to an active declaration of war by a foreign power. According to the War Powers Act of 1973, the Congress and President may use military force without an official declaration of war for 60 days. After the 60 days are over, Congress must either officially declare war or cease military actions. There are a few instances where this 60 days can be extended an additional 30, but after that, the Congress must declare war or forces must be brought home.

Within this 90 day time frame (assuming a 30 day extension), the majority of Taliban strongholds were toppled (the most notable being Kabul, Kunduz and Kandahar) and all known organized factions of al-Qaeda were known or presumed to have fled to Pakistan. Hostilities should have ended or war should have been declared.

According to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, the power to declare war is given to the Congress:

The Congress shall have power…

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

So, according to the Constitution of the United States and the War Powers Act of 1973, the United States Congress should have either declared war or removed our troops from Afghanistan by January 7, 2002 (90 days after the start of operation Enduring Freedom). Had the Congress declared war, the President then would have continued in his role as Commander and Chief according to the powers given him in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution:

The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States

No one, and definitely not me or Dr. Paul, is suggesting that there should be 535 Commanders in Chief. That would not only be ludicrous, but it would also be in violation of the Constitution. The founding fathers wisely separated the ability to declare and fund war from the ability to command the military. They wanted to provide an obstacle to the corrupting nature of power and try to prevent any one branch of the government (specifically the President given the tyrannical monarchy they had just successfully severed ties with) from having complete control of the military. It is rather difficult to use the military to establish a dictatorship if the purse has been welded shut.

Alexander Hamilton addressed this issue in Federalist Paper #24: The Powers Necessary to the Common Defense Further Considered:

A stranger to our politics, who was to read our newspapers at the present juncture, without having previously inspected the plan reported by the convention, would be naturally led to one of two conclusions: either that it contained a positive injunction, that standing armies should be kept up in time of peace; or that it vested in the EXECUTIVE the whole power of levying troops, without subjecting his discretion, in any shape, to the control of the legislature.

If he came afterwards to peruse the plan itself, he would be surprised to discover, that neither the one nor the other was the case; that the whole power of raising armies was lodged in the LEGISLATURE, not in the EXECUTIVE; that this legislature was to be a popular body, consisting of the representatives of the people periodically elected; and that instead of the provision he had supposed in favor of standing armies, there was to be found, in respect to this object, an important qualification even of the legislative discretion, in that clause which forbids the appropriation of money for the support of an army for any longer period than two years a precaution which, upon a nearer view of it, will appear to be a great and real security against the keeping up of troops without evident necessity.

As to Bill’s frustration “ If he feels that only Congress should deploy troops, then STOP FUNDING THEIR MOVEMENT!”, I am a little confused as to why this statement is included here. Since the original deployment of troops in October of 2001, Dr. Paul has not voted to continue funding the troops in Afghanistan or Iraq. Dr. Paul didn’t even vote to send troops into Iraq. He has earned his nickname of “Dr. No” by consistently voting against any unconstitutional legislations, resolutions, etc. that are introduced in the House of Representatives. On October 8, 2002, Dr. Paul voted against House Joint Resolution 144 which gave the President unconstitutional powers over the US military. Basically, the resolution hands over constitutionally established congressional powers to deploy the military to the executive branch. This clearly breaches the system of checks and balances the Constitution was meant to establish. On that same day, Dr. Paul voted against the Department of Defense Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2003 (which included funding for undeclared wars) as presented in HR5010. (These votes took place in the 107th Congress.) He has continued to vote against such unconstitutional spending and troop deployments. (The Washington Post has a great site where they track the voting records of all members of Congress. It is a wonderful resource but can be a bit difficult to navigate. You’ll need patience to find older votes since they are listed chronologically with the most recent first. The New York Times also has summaries of voting records for all of the Presidential candidates for a variety of topics. You can see all of their voting records on the hostilities in Iraq here.)

Bill, in the case of finances as they pertain to current US military actions, I believe you are preaching to the choir. As far as your understanding of the constitutionally appointed roles of the Congress and the President where the military is concerned, I think you are severely in error.

I will address the remainder of Bill’s email in a separate post in a few days.

Also, I wanted to note again that these are my opinions and understandings of these issues. Although I believe that they align to those held by Dr. Paul and that I have faithfully represented his stances here, I encourage you to read his opinions for yourself. Check out his voting record at the sites I mention above or go to his campaign website or congressional website for more information.


Heather_in_WI said...

Wow! Excellent post. Thanks for taking the time to explain this.

Samsson said...

If Ron Paul is an insult to those serving abroad, why does he have more contributions from the military than any other candidate?
-A former naval officer and Desert Storm veteran.

Amy said...

Nicely done.