“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Most of us can remember where we were eleven years ago today.
On September 11, 2001, I was eight months pregnant with my oldest son, Freddie. I had gone to the gas station to get a cappuccino and was listening to Bob and Tom on the radio in the car. All of the sudden, the jokes stopped, and there was silence. At that point, the first plane had hit. I was pulling into the driveway, and ran, albeit clumsily, into the house and watched live on CNN as the second plane hit. Those are moments that will be embedded in my memory for the rest of my life.
Since that day, our country has been at war. My son was born in October of that year, so the U.S. has been at war in the Middle East for his entire life. It’s a sobering thought.
The reason for retaliation was clear back then. We wanted to avenge the lives of those 3000 people who were so unjustly murdered at the World Trade Center. We wanted to show the terrorists what happens when you have the audacity to attack Americans on our own soil.
On September 18, 2001, Congress passed Senate Joint Resolution 23 into law. President George W. Bush signed the resolution, probably the broadest declaration of war in our nation’s history. The Authorization for Use of Military Force , which was created with the intent to allow the armed forces to hunt down those responsible for the attack, states, “Whereas on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous violence were committed against the United States,”:
The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations, or persons.
Under the United States Constitution, it is the Congress who has the power to declare war. That power is not within the scope of the Executive Branch. Article 1, Sec. 8 (11) states, “Congress shall have the power . . . to declare war.” The president is commander-in-chief, but he must fulfill his responsibilities within the framework established by the Constitution and is subject to the control of Congress.
However, this resolution changed the balance of power handed down by our forefathers.
Interestingly enough, the U.S. had provided substantial financing to this same terrorist organization for many years prior. Al Qaeda was established in Afghanistan during the Soviet War (1979-1989). The native Afghan mujahideen, who were Islamic militants, were fighting against the Soviets and Marxist Afghans. The American CIA program, “Operation Cyclone”, funneled money through Pakistan’s intelligence agency to the mujahideen.
Operation Cyclone was one of the longest and most expensive covert operations ever undertaken by the CIA. Funding began with $20-$30 million in 1980, and by 1987, the figure had risen to $630 million per year. The U.S. government believed that the Soviets were seeking to expand their borders and to prepare for a takeover of oil in the Middle East. The Carter Doctrine, as it is now known, sought to protect our interests in the area.
On January 23, 1980, Carter, in his State of the Union Address, said :”Let our position be absolutely clear… an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region [and thereby endanger the flow of oil] will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”
This set a dangerous precedent for what was to come later.
While I believe that retaliation was justified against those responsible for 9/11, going to “war” with Iraq was not well done. Iraq was not a threat to the United States. They did not possess weapons of mass destruction, there was no evidence to support the idea that they had them, and even if they did, they would not have had a launch mechanism that would allow for an attack on U.S. soil.
The Iraq Resolution, passed by Congress in 2002, served to subvert their own interests by transferring the authority to declare war completely out of their hands and into those of the executive branch. The most important part, and one that people overlook, is that it also instructed the President to enforce U.N. resolutions. As Ron Paul stated in his floor speech against the resolution, this was a way of going in through the back door. You can watch that here:
In effect, the U.S. went into a war with Iraq on assumptions. We assumed that they had weapons of mass destruction. We assumed that they were trying to gain more nuclear capability in order to attack the United States, which is just preposterous, if you think about it.
What did those assumptions gain us? Certainly hatred from Middle Eastern countries. We removed Saddam from power; I guess you can consider that good karma. Are we safer for it? Did we win? Absolutely not…Iraq was not a threat to us to begin with. U.S. Intelligence agencies don’t even think that Al Qaeda had a presence in Iraq when we invaded.
The real question is, what did the war with Iraq cost the United States? According to U.S. News, by the end of December. 2011, the price tag for Operation Iraqi Freedom sat at $806 billion. As of yesterday, 4422 U.S. soldiers and DoD civilians had been killed and another 31,926 wounded in action. Operation Enduring Freedom, which is the war in Afghanistan on its own, has cost the U.S. 2,108 total deaths and 17,519 wounded in action.
The Patriot Act was another loss for Americans. Reauthorized several times and modified to be even more restrictive, the Patriot Act essentially strips all privacy from Americans by authoring the use of roving wiretaps, seizures of private correspondence, expansion of court jurisdictions… the list is endless. The Patriot Act violates Amendments 1, IV, and VI, specifically: freedoms of speech, right to liberty, freedom from unreasonable search, freedom of association, right to legal representation, and a right to public trial.
On the wings of the Patriot Act, we have the NDAA 2012, which further restricts and pretty much abolishes those rights.
We have not ended the war, either. Our troops are authorized to remain in Afghanistan until at least 2024. Obama has taken credit for a draw down, but that was authorized by Bush in 2008. In fact, we have sent MORE troops to Afghanistan since his announcement in 2011, which you can see here (if you can stomach it):
Did the rest of our troops come home by the end of 2011? No, and it’s hard to see an end in sight from either Obama or Romney. Obama took credit for killing Osama Bin Laden and then continued to escalate our presence in Afghanistan. Mitt Romney, in a roundtable discussion with veterans last year, said that he felt that bringing the troops home by the end of the year was a very big mistake.
“Yeah. A couple of things. One, you probably know that it is my view that the withdrawal of all of our troops from Iraq by the end of this year is an enormous mistake and a failing by the Obama administration. Secretary Panetta and others had indicated they were working to put in place a Status of Forces Agreement to maintain our presence there, so that we could most effectively transition to the Iraqi military and Iraqi security forces providing security for their country,” Romney said.
He continued,”The precipitous withdrawal is unfortunate. It’s more than unfortunate. I think it’s tragic. It puts at risk many of the victories that were hard-won by the men and women who have served there. I hope the risk is not realized. I hope instead that the Iraqis are able to pick up the baton, and despite the fact that we will have walked away on a too-rapid basis.”
Both candidates have shown Americans, either in speech or in deed, that they are not ready to end the war in Afghanistan. So, what is the plan? To begin a new war with Iran! Both men have emphasized military action against Iran being a priority, and Obama even went as far as to authorize military action against Iran in the NDAA 2013, which passed the House back in May.
History tends to repeat itself. What do we stand to gain in Iran? Safety and security? Does Iran have the capability to build weapons of mass destruction and will they use them against the United States on our soil?
For the last ten years the IAEA has reported, after over 4000 hours of inspection, that there is no evidence of Iran building to or seeking to build a nuclear weapon. However, they do admit that they cannot say this with complete assurance. The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate has also maintained that Iran does not have and are not building nuclear weapons, nor are they on the verge of acquiring them. While they do have the capability of producing highly enriched uranium, which has been declared, a preemptive strike by the U.S. based on assumptions would be disastrous.
Iran is one of the leading countries in the Islamic world who have advocated an end to nuclear weapons, religiously committing themselves with a fatwa against weapons of mass destruction.
If the U.S., or Israel for that matter, were to strike Iran, it would further weaken the diplomatic split with Russia. A war would probably not end Iran’s nuclear program nor significantly delay it. It would, however, give Iran justification to back out of any involvement in the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty and they would hide their program, rather than cooperating as they have been thus far.
Let’s not mention the enormous cost it would entail, in money that we don’t have, and lives that we shouldn’t risk. It would also make it much more difficult to end our other entanglements in the Middle East, war or otherwise.
Are we ready to start another war?
For the last eleven years, we have waged war in the Middle East with no gain, and have continued to lose lives as well as credibility, integrity, personal liberty, and our credit rating. Now, we have two Presidential candidates that want to begin another war that we can’t afford, on many levels. Is it still about protecting us from terrorism? Or have we hearkened back to Carter’s philosophy of protecting our oil interests?
Has it been about oil all along?
Looking back on the day that the towers fell, I still feel outrage against those who attacked, and overwhelming sympathy for those who suffered the loss of family members and friends. I cannot imagine going through the pain that survivors have endured.
In another eleven years, my son will be 22. We have been at war for his entire life. I do not want to send my son to Iran to fight based on a presumption. And neither should you.
“War should only be declared by the authority of the people, whose toils and treasures are to support its burdens, instead of the government which is to reap its fruits.”