If room for debate on ISIS exists, should we be going to...

If room for debate on ISIS exists, should we be going to war?

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Code Pink members offer silent protest behind Secretary of State John Kerry before Congress
Code Pink members offer silent protest behind Secretary of State John Kerry before Congress

WASHINGTON, September 18, 2014 — The House of Representatives is the only body legally empowered by the Constitution to declare war, a fact ignored since August of 1945, when our last legal war ended.

Wednesday saw a great debate among our elected about whether we should be entering another “war,” ostensibly to “do something” about the threat of ISIS to Syria and Iraq, and ultimately to Europe and the US. The President, who sees no reason to get congressional approval for, say, air strikes, has asked the Congress for “permission” to arm some 5000 fighters in Syria.

Whoever these fighters may be, and however we have vetted them, is not clear, nor is it defined in the authorization. How 5000 people will destroy ISIS and the Assad government at the same time, yet maintain the “stability” of a central government in Syria, is the incredible promise set forth by the silly (no money is involved) resolution.

Rather than debating whether or not to declare war, though, the House is dithering around the edges of taking military actions here and there, of somehow giving congressional authority to the Executive branch, which is something not even contemplated by the authors of the Constitution. That authority belongs to Congress alone, no matter how inconvenient such responsibility may be to the individual Members who are too duplicitous to want to take clear stands and declare their support for, or opposition to a war.

War is not a bunch of pinprick strikes. War is not authorizing a few weapons to a few scattered groups of people who may or may not fight for US interests. War is not setting up a few classrooms to educate unknown people who say they’ll do what we want them to do, and only that. War is a total commitment to the unconditional surrender of the enemy.

Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a Marine Corps veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, understands the problem ISIS poses: “We need to kill them. We need to exterminate them. We need to burn the Islamic State to the ground. …There is no assurance that [our] weapons… will not fall into the wrong hands. We need to crush ISIS, and not work on training more Islamic radicals.”

As President Obama promised a few days earlier, the US is prepared to continue “targeted airstrikes” in support of the degradation and destruction of ISIS. As opposed to what — random airstrikes? But is arming “the enemy of our enemy” a good idea?

Let’s get back to the idea of what war is.

War is not police action, which is designed to keep the peace; peace is the opposite of war. War is a wholehearted dedication to the destruction of an enemy, when that enemy will not, under any circumstances, allow peace. Such an enemy must be decapitated, isolated, annihilated. That’s what war is for. Nothing but war has this goal, and nothing but war will achieve the goal of annihilation. And war is not free of costs. And war requires total commitment.

And as Representative Paul Brown (R-GA) noted as he cited the Constitution’s Article I, Section 8, where it is clear that only Congress can declare war, “If the President wants us to go to war, let him make the case…”

Now to the question of whether the USA is ready to annihilate every member, sympathizer, and supporter of ISIL, including all of al Qaeda and all of the quiet supporters throughout the Arab world (and Europe, and Mexico, and in the US). This will take a lot more agreement than Americans have today.

So, if we are able to honestly debate the need for war, let me posit that we don’t need war. And if we don’t need war, we sure as hell should not start one.

But the House voted to approve war acts, or… whatever the President wants, 273-156.

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