The 2018 U.S. election is over, with a few exceptions. From how to control the border on the right, to protecting pre-existing conditions on the left, Americans were swamped with promises. One subject politicians of any stripe refused to touch was war. That’s odd considering war touches every citizen.
Some children who weren’t born when this latest round of war began will join the military when they graduate from high school in seven months. If they are to die in Middle East, Americans should know why.
The U.S. has spent some $900 billion in aid to Afghanistan since 2001. Congress approved some $5.6 trillion for combat in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. The bill has gone directly to the national debt, something not debated during the election. Interest debt is expected to add another $1 trillion a year by 2023, according to a Brown University study. In addition, nearly 6,800 deaths of U.S.military personnel in the theater have been reported since 2001.
Are we at war?
The Constitution gives Congress the exclusive power to declare war. However, the legislative has body refused to exercise this requirement since World War II. Instead, Congress grants the executive branch free reign in combat through an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF).
Congress wrote President George W Bush a blank check to usher in the end times by attacking al Qaeda and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks. Of course almost all of the terrorists who hijacked the planes used in the attack were Saudis. Still, the Bush White House and military industrial complex managed to fabricate a story the media sold to the public in support of the endless war for which the U.S. still has no exit strategy.
Will the 116th Congress change this? The ball is now in the Democrats’ hands.
Democrats should have at least a 10-seat House majority when all is said and done. (Some races are so close recounts are needed.) The party of the donkey could spend all of its time investigating everything the president does – some oversight is certainly needed – or it could take a broader view and pass spending bills and investigate.
Bring troops home
Stopping the current AUMF would satisfy both. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) cited the “overly broad powers” granted the chief executive when she cast the lone vote against the so-called war powers act. In 2017, the House Appropriations Committee approved Lee’s amendment to repeal the 2001 authorization for the use of military force, but it failed on the floor.
The Afghani government might control 44 percent of that country. Neither the Syrian situation, nor ISIS existed when this authorization passed. Losing in Afghanistan is nothing new. The British and Soviets did it when they had strong militaries. Once troops are redeployed and DOD waste eliminated, the debt, healthcare and infrastructure repair can be addressed.
If combat is necessary, the president can always ask Congress to debate a declaration of war in public. Of course if the president’s desire is based on faulty intel, i.e. “a slam dunk,” the public may get to the truth before the vote and influence Congress.