Once upon a time the power to declare war belonged to the legislative branch. That began to change when Harry Truman felt the need to send troops to the Korean Peninsula. Dwight Eisenhower followed up by sticking his nose into Southeast Asia (followed by Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon) and Central America.
Congress ceded its power to declare war when it passed to Gulf of Tonkin resolution during the Johnson administration, handing the White House carte blanche to send in the troops whenever it felt the need to do so. And, since the damage from that piece of legislation wasn't bad enough, they decided to one-up themselves in 2001 when they gave George W. Bush a blank check to send the military around the world after terrorists.
In his latest book, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, Jeremy Scahill pulls back the curtain and exposes the ways in which our government has subverted the Constitution and international law. And the story isn't pretty.
Under the Bush administration the foreign policy team constructed a scheme in which the sovereignty of nation states was immaterial in the US's fight against terrorists (or those whom the government defined as terrorists). Along the way innocent men, women and children have found themselves in the middle of whatever conflict the United States feels the need to get into.
Officially the United States isn't at war with anyone. The Bush administration used the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to go back into Iraq to follow up on his daddy's attempts to occupy the oil fields and defend oppression in Kuwait.. From there it was off to Afghanistan for another war of occupation. Along the way we've made stops in Pakistan, Yeman and Somalia -- with and without permission.
Just think about the absolute absurdity of one nation making a unilateral decision to invade the territory of a sovereign nation and drop bombs into populated areas. What would the reaction in the US be if the Russians took it upon themselves to fire missiles into areas in which Chechen activists lived?
The sycophantic media has bought the government's line about this war being a "clean" war through the use of armed drones that keep our young people out of harms' way. How inconvenient to point out the thousands who have died as a result of missile and bomb strikes in our drone war. From hitting the wrong target to the so-called collateral damage, Washington has made plenty of enemies in the Middle East.
It is largely because of his exposure of the truth behind the war that Bradley Manning has been sitting in custody for years and is looking at the possibility of life in prison.
Yet no one seems to have gotten too upset about President Obama's decision to kill four American citizens without the benefit of due process of law.No one has raised much of a ruckus over the vast sums of money that have been wasted on a war without boundaries at the same time Republican congressmen are screaming to cut social spending for the poor.
The mechanism by which the White House has usurped Congress' power to declare war is in place and isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Presidents from both parties have sent young Americans into harm's way in support of transnational corporations and financial interests with nary a word of dissent from Congress. The Joint Operations Special Command has become a shadow Defense Department creating foreign policy from whole cloth.
Jeremy Scahill has done an excellent job exposing the mockery that our elected (and un-elected) leaders have made of the Constitution. The question is will anyone have the backbone to stand up and point out that the emperor has on no clothes?