President Obama has dispatched troops to Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to risk that last full measure of devotion on fool’s errands hoping to metamorphose warring sectarian, ethnic, or tribal factions into peaceful Democrats.
Congress should order them home by concurrent resolution to defend Americans on American soil under section 5 (c) of the War Powers Resolution. A concurrent resolution does not require the president’s signature.
The subsection provides that “at any time the Armed Forces are engaged in hostilities outside the United States…without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, such forces shall be removed by the President if the Congress so directs by concurrent resolution.” And section 8 (c) elaborates that assigning a member of the Armed Forces to accompany regular or irregular forces of any foreign country engaged in hostilities triggers the foregoing subsection.
Mr. Obama’s stupendous stupidity in the Middle East and South Asia ranks with Napoleon’s march to Moscow in 1812.
He is fighting wars in three artificial nations featuring political cultures less advanced than Pharaonic Egypt. Their boundaries were drawn by Europeans to accommodate European political imperatives. None have rule of law traditions that promise physical security more reliable than guns or tribalism. Post-Gaddafi Libya exemplifies the absurdity of believing peace and democratic norms can be transplanted to Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan in the foreseeable future.
More important, the fate of the three nations are irrelevant to the security of the United States, just as Vietnam was when we ended our military involvement there 40 years ago without adverse fallout. It is a tragedy if not an obscenity that no one knows why the last United States soldier died in Vietnam. We are repeating the same type of obscenity in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. What we will say to the family of the last soldier who will die in Afghanistan, or in Iraq, or in Syria?
We need not fear Russia’s military engagement in Syria. It diminishes President Vladimir Putin’s ability to menace Europe and is fated to shipwreck — including blowback — like the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to prop up President Mohammed Najibullah.
To suggest that our military forces redeployed to the United States could not deter or defend us from aggression launched from Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan would be a slur on their courage and unmatched fighting talents. United States sovereignty is vastly more secure against war than is any other nation on the planet. And that invincible security would be strengthened — not weakened — by redeploying all of our troops in these three nations to the United States to defend our land borders, to police our shores, and to control our airspace. The tens of billions of dollars in financial savings could be used to increase their military pay.
Section 5 (c) applies when the president has engaged the armed forces into hostilities outside the United States without “specific statutory authorization.” Congress has refused to enact such authorization for President Obama’s troops in Syria. The president’s argument that the 2002 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein justifies intervening in Syria’s convulsions takes the meaning of Orwellian to a new level.
Neither does the 2002 AUMF provide specific statutory authorization for Mr. Obama’s use of military force to defend Iraq from outside attacks or a civil war, which is what he is doing in assisting the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abidi. The 2002 AUMF is limited to defending the United States against national security threats posed by the Iraqi government, of which there are none.
The 2001 AUMF enacted in the wake of 9/11 is not specific statutory authorization for United States troops in Afghanistan fourteen years later. All the participants in the attacks have been either captured or killed. Al Qaeda is a shadow of its former self there. The Taliban, which harbored Osama bin Laden, has been overthrown and replaced by an Afghan government friendly to the United States. War is disfavored under the Constitution because it threatens liberty, transparency, and the separation of powers. Thus, any ambiguities in the 2001 AUMF should be resolved against the use of military force in Afghanistan long after those complicit in the 9/11 abominations have been crushed and no longer pose a threat of war against the United States.
Accordingly, Congress should exercise its authority under section 5 (c) to order our troops home from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to defend Americans on American soil with pay raises derived from the huge budgetary savings.
As the Constitution instructs, our national security creed should be, “Billions for Defense, but not one cent for Empire.”