Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Personal Aside: If We Regain the Presidency in 2012, Let’s Make it Mean Something!

             Feast of St. Polycarp*
            The devastating (for Democrats) Republican victory in Massachusetts last week is still only a slight breeze…a breeze that will likely turn into a stiff wind this November and a hurricane in 2012 that will remove socialist-redistributionist Barack Obama and his radical  Chicago Squid allies from office.
           But it’s important that the change that comes must be true—not just a reshuffling of a namby-pamby “moderate” GOP president for a Dem one with the same-old, same-old tactics melding into virtually one party.
                         Don’t Co-Opt the Tea Parties for GOP Purposes.
           That means it’s important that the Republican who comes to power will not be an get-along, go-along…one who will not exercise a veto as did George W. Bush for the first term of his presidency--but one who will fight for the drastic changes in the economy that are needed to restore national solvency. 
            To ensure a real conservative revolution ensues up to 2012 and beyond, that fabulous grassroots tsunami known as the Tea Party Movement should in no sense be co-opted by the Republican party as former Vice President Dan Quayle advised last week.  
                           Clamp Down on the Fed.
            In addition to cutting unnecessary spending, the new Republican president should issue a strict policy concerning the Federal Reserve Board: To (a) submit to a comprehensive audit which it has resisted, (b) revert to what it was originally designed to do—guard the stability of the dollar and not jiggle with the money supply that produces boom and bust—or (c) run the risk of being abolished, the president declaring that he prefers abolition if there is no reform.
          That would mean no more policies of artificially cheap credit which caused the housing bubble, spurting dough to banks which became awash in money that was printed out of thin air, making mortgage loans available to everyone, prodding people to buy mega-mansions they could not afford.           Further it would signify a return to the wise policy of Andrew Mellon, the Treasury Secretary of the `20s which was ignored by Herbert Hoover.  In 1920 when a downturn hit after World War I,  Mellon’s sage advice was followed—and the market was allowed to self-correct, spurring full recovery a year later. 
           The next Republican president should also have the gumption to oppose any future attempts to grant bailouts to banks that are “too big to fail,” and any “rescue plan” that impels the Fed to okay billions of dollars to “save” Fannie and Freddie—or anything like the notorious prescription drug benefit under George W. Bush, passed by a GOP Congress in 2003.  Bushies told the Congress it would cost $534 billion and which now has been adjudged as $1.2 trillion for this decade alone.
     Moreover the next Republican presidentshould fight to return to Americans their right to use precious metals as a medium of exchange to protect themselves from ruin by utilizing gold and silver if they so desire. 
                               Returning to Declarations of War.  
           The next president should take a very dim view of this nation’s record of not asking for a congressional declaration of war but sending troops to battle with either no congressional authorization or with mischievously concocted bogus evasions. The argument is that today foreign attacks and crises can occur within a few hours which makes the declaration of war impracticable—but it doesn’t hold water. Congress approved our entry into World War II a day after Pearl Harbor, Dec. 8, 1941…with only one dissent, Cong. Jeannette Rankin [R-Montana] who also was dissented from World War I)  and FDR signed it the same day—although as a resolution, it didn’t need to be signed (he wanted a photo-op). 
       To supplant the Constitutional provision, a so-called War Powers Act was re-passed over presidential veto in 1973 whose constitutionality has never been tested.  It requires a president to ask Congress to approve his warlike action  48 hours after it’s occurred and stipulates that the forces involved should not be utilized in war for more than 60 days without further authorization. 
     This legislation is patently ridiculous. If an army is sent to war who in the Congress will have the guts not to back up “our fighting sons and daughters” with an instant resolution?  And after 60 days of warfare, who in the Congress will muster the fortitude to deny support for “our fighting men and women”? 

           Bypassing the constitutional provision started with—you guessed it, the author of many other bad ideas--Woodrow Wilson with the Mexican incursion of 1916.  Wilson, after all, saw himself as an improvement over Jesus Christ. At Versailles in 1919 where he argued for creation of a League of Nations,  Wilson declared “why has Jesus Christ so far not succeeded in inducing the world to follow His teachings? He taught the ideal without devising any practical means of attaining it.  That is why I am proposing a practical scheme to carry out His aims.”  He was referring to the League of Nations.

      We can also thank Wilson for creation of the Federal Reserve and the federal income tax through the Underwood Tariff that utilized the 16th amendment, placing a 1% tax on individual incomes over $3,000 and an additional graduated surtax of from 1 to 6% on incomes over $20,000.  
      In October, 1913 Wilson pledged the U. S. will never again acquire territory by conquest. Sounded good but he wasn’t exactly a constitutionalist.  Wilson initiated a foray by troops into Mexico without a declaration of war. It happened in 1916 when Mexico temporarily arrested U.S. sailors at Tampico.  Wilson demanded the country fire a 21-gun salute to the American flag. 
           After Mexico declined, he dispatched Marines to occupy Vera Cruz.  Then Pancho Villa, a Mexican revolutionary, raided Columbus, N. M. and killed 16 Americans.  Angrily, dismissing a case for a declaration of war, Wilson arbitrarily sent 6,000 troops under Gen. John J. Pershing to chase Villa hundreds of miles into Mexico. Pershing’s favorite lieutenant, George S. Patton, Jr. returned with the bodies of three bandit-generals strapped to his vehicles similar to game killed by hunters for which he was promoted to captain.
                                  Truman’s Korean “Police Action.”
        If Wilson’s incursion into Mexico was minor league, the “police action” that launched our participation in the Korean War was an enormous constitutional breach.  It was compounded by President Harry Truman’s evasion of congressional authority by winning a UN mandate to expel the North Koreans from the South and not going to Congress at all.
      Truman went the UN route because he feared even the Democratic-led Congress would not declare war and that Ohio’s Robert Taft would single out Democratic responsibility for triggering the invasion  of  the South (because Dean Acheson publicly excluded Korea from our line of defense in a speech at the National Press Club).  So Truman never asked for it. In fact he was in denial, maintaining we were not at war at all.  A reporter questioning him said, “well then it’s a police action.”

        “Yes,” said Truman, “that’s exactly what it is.”  The war that was not called a war but was what the reporter called “a police action” took 33,471 American lives.
         Since Truman got away with not asking for a declaration of war, other presidents felt they could follow suit—but ironically not the 5-star Republican general who followed Truman to the White House, Dwight Eisenhower who nevertheless ended the Korean War by passing the word to the North Koreans that unless they agree to make peace, he—Ike—would see to it that they and the Red Chinese were blasted out of existence with the H-bomb. True, he didn’t need Congress’ approval to make a back-of-the-hand verbal threat.
         As the Chinese didn’t have nuclear weapons then, the  off-the-record vow of  annihilation by the general who won the war in Europe gave them pause and they caved.
          But unconstitutionality was resumed after Ike.
        On April 7, 1961, John Kennedy surreptitiously ordered an invasion of Cuba  involving 1,500 Cuban exiles trained by the CIA at Cochinos Bay (the Bay of Pigs).  No congressional authorization. Next he raised the number of “military advisers” in South Vietnam to 16,000. No congressional authorization.
             Finally on Oct. 22, 1962 he ordered that “any ship of any kind bound for Cuba from whatever nation or port will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back.”  He wanted the USSR “it shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring full retaliatory response against the Soviet Union.”  Not even a hint of a possible declaration of war.
                               LBJ’s Bogus Gulf of Tonkin.
         In August, 1964, Lyndon Johnson reported to the Congress that North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked the U.S. destroyers Maddox and Turner Joy in the Gulf of Tonkin. We retaliated with bombing attacks against naval installations in North Vietnam. Johnson condemned the North for “open aggression on the high seas.”  He did not ask for a declaration of war; instead, Congress gave him an open-ended commitment to “take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.” 
       The congressional resolution was substituted as a legal basis to justify our going to war—a war that lasted from 1964 to 1975. Why no declaration of war?  There was ample time to pass one! 
      Answer: the Congress was wimpy and wanted Johnson to take the responsibility. The Gulf of Tonkin matter was a lie. In 2005 the National Security Agency’s secret files were opened and it was found that  the story of North Vietnamese aggression against us was a hoax. In fact the Maddox started firing on the North Vietnamese first.  American dead in the Vietnam War: 58,154.  We were told a domino effect would tumble all of Asia if we desisted.  We did not succeed in Vietnam and the war ended in a Communist victory.  Today Vietnam is our trading partner and has a functioning stock market.
       Richard Nixon expanded the Vietnam War to include incursions into Laos and Cambodia but the Democratic Congress, which had readily given its approval to LBJ under the spurious Gulf of Tonkin, heatedly objected and passed the War Powers Act over his veto. 
       Under Gerald Ford, on May 14, 1975 Cambodian gunboats seized a U.S. merchant ship, The Mayaguez enroute from Hong Kong to the Thai port of Sattahip near Poulo Wai island.  No declaration of war was asked but in a daring rescue two days later, U.S. forces recovered the vessel and all 39 crewmen. In the rescue, however, 41Americans were killed.
       Under Ronald Reagan on Oct. 25, 1983, with no congressional sanction or declaration of war,  the U.S. sent 10,000 troops to invade the West Indies island of Grenada, the smallest nation in the western hemisphere to rescue hundreds of Americans threatened by a Marxist military coup there, ridding the island of the Marxist regime and Cuban military personnel.
                               Bush I: Panama, Iraq and Somalia.   
       George H. W. Bush sent forces without a declaration of war to Panama on Dec, 20, 1989 to capture its de facto leader, Gen. Manuel Noriega who                          was wanted in Florida on drug-trafficking charges with no declaration of war.
      Also after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait where Saddam Hussein formally annexed the oil-rich emirate,  Bush launched Operation Desert Storm to free Kuwait with no declaration of war--a coalition with the U.S. joined by 15 other countries including Saudi Arabia, on January 17, 1991--to liberate Kuwait.  More than 541.000 U. S. troops were involved which suffered 148 casualties. Another episode: On December 4, 1992, Bush sent 28,000 U.S. troops to Somalia in 1989 to combat famine which turned into a bloody military struggle: no declaration of war.  
        Bill Clinton approved troops sent to Haiti to oust Haitian strong man Raoul Caras without a declaration of war.  In 1999 he sought to stop ethnic cleansing and genocide of Albanians by nationalist Serbs in the former nation of Yugoslavia by dispatching U.S. troops in a NATO bombing campaign without a declaration. 
                              Bush II: Afghanistan and Iraq.
         Of all the presidents none have received more criticism for initiating war more than George W. Bush —but the criticism was lodged that the invasion of Iraq from which he secured the resolution under the War Powers Act was based on false information that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (none were found)—not that the war was formally undeclared. 
         The twin invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were made as result of the 9/11 attack by terrorists on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Somerset county, Pennsylvania.  Over 3,000 Americans were killed and more than 6,000 injured, the most destructive terrorist attack in U.S. history. With a congressional resolution—but no declaration of war—but with UN and NATO approval--he ordered bombing of al-Qaeda camps and Taliban military forces in Afghanistan. Ironically Bush was more concerned about winning UN approval than getting the Congress’.
       Bush worked mightily to gain UN support for his U.S. led invasion of Iraq—much harder than he did trying to persuade our own lawmakers.  Instead the Security Council approved a resolution demanding Saddam Hussein declare where all its alleged weapons of mass destruction were, stop supporting terrorism and oppressing Iraqis. Dissatisfied, congress passed the resolution on Iraq—not a declaration of war—and the U.S., Great Britain and 30 other nations prepared for war. On March 23, the coalition launched an attack on Iraq.
           So the first order of international business for a new Republican president would be, I suggest, to restore observance of the Constitution and ditch the probably unconstitutional War Powers Act.
                Reducing the Size of Our Military Occupation Forces.
         Along with restoring the Constitution on declarations of war, the next Republican president should—to save money and cut back on over-involvement in globalism—end the over-extension of our military throughout the world where troops are not needed.  We now have more than 200,000 troops stationed in 144 countries and territories throughout the world.  Of this number there are 100,000 in Europe where war is unlikely to break out: Germany, Italy, the UK, Turkey, Spain, Iceland, Belgium and Portugal.  We have 75,000 in Asia (including Japan).  There are 6,000 troops in Panama.  These troops basically serve as policemen, saving our rich allies the expense of defending themselves.
            Civil Liberties—But Not a National Suicide Pact.
         But I part company with those ultra-doves, a strange amalgam of  those on Left and the Libertarian Right, who say we had 9/11 coming because we are too pro-Israel…when we have given far more billions to Arab nations than to the Israelis… and who criticize so-called abrogation of terrorists’ “civil liberties” in fighting the war on terrorism. Preservation of civil liberties is important but ridiculous liberal legal constructs should not be construed as a national suicide pact.  The PATRIOT Act is a matter of self-protection—for us.  Terrorist combatants who are out to blow us up should be tried in a military court—not a civil federal one where under the weak Obama practice they are given the very constitutional privileges stemming from a nation they are trying to destroy. Dangerous terrorist combatants should be held inviolate from the people they want to destroy without legal counsel and without knowing the charges leveled against them if by freeing them on technicalities they are at liberty to kill us-- no matter what the ACLU says. 
           While this new president’s at it, he should pare “foreign aid” to the bone.  Israel’s making big bucks because it’s ditched socialism  for entrepreneurism; the Arabs have enough oil to pay their bills and fight their own “poverty.”
           These are just a few ideas for the resurgent conservatism that will, God willing, reclaim what’s left of America in 2012.
       *: Feast of St. Polycarp [circa AD 69-155]. He was a disciple of John the Evangelist and ordained by John as bishop of Smyrna, in present day Turkey.  A tough old bird, he couldn’t agree with Pope Anicetus on what day to celebrate Easter, so they split the difference, each celebrating it on his own favorite day.  Polycarp became the vital link between the age of the original apostles and the 2nd century church fathers. Polycarp kissed the chains of Ignatius of Antioch as Ignatius passed by on the road to martyrdom and agreed to look after Antioch as well as Smyrna. When Emperor Marcus Aurelius began a persecution, Polycarp refused to sacrifice incense to the gods and acknowledge the emperor’s divinity. Thus the emperor ordered him burned at the stake—but the flames refused to consume Polycarp, and in fact, stirred by the wind, formed themselves like the sails of a ship and encircled Polycarp so that no harm be done to him. In desperation the emperor ordered him to be speared to death.


  1. The reason we haven't declared war since 1941 is because of our treaty arrangements. With NATO, SEATO, CENTO, etc. all would require member nations to declare war on a country if we did. The U.S. does not want that complication -- nor do the other signatories.

  2. Military actions without a declaration of war actually go all the way back to the founding generation, beginning with our nation's first collision with Islamic terrorists in the Barbary Wars, which began under President Thomas Jefferson.

    A more comprehensive list of the numerous undeclared wars in which we engaged throughout our history, can be found in Max Boot's fine book, "The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power".

  3. America's first "undeclared war" was in 1798 against France.

    There was no declaration of war against the Barbary Pirate states.

    Polk sent U.S. troops into the disputed part of Texas without Congressional approval, which led to combat.

    Navy and Marine forces fought in China, Japan, and Korea in the 1850s-70s with no declaration of war.

    U.S. troops served in the Peking Expedition of 1900 with no declaration of war.

    U.S. forces intervened in Nicaragua in 1912 and stayed there for twenty years with no declaration of war.

    The formal declaration of war is a mechanism of the "Westphalian" system of relations between nation-states. It doesn't work in a context of non-state actors and deniable terrorism.