On Saturday last, President Obama announced to the world that he was seeking an authorization (1) to use military force against “The Syrian regime” or what used to be called The Assad administration (2). While Obama claimed he did not need to gain Congress’s blessing he would seek it anyway. The press quickly sprang into action asking all the wrong questions of all the wrong people like “will the Congress side with the President”? The proper question to ask instead should be “exactly what threat does the “Syrian regime” pose to citizens of the United States?
The Syrians have not physically attacked San Diego or New Orleans. The Syrians have no warships or aircraft close enough to either of those cities to pose a threat either. Ironically, if we are looking for who is threatening whom it is the U.S. that now has 6 battleships parked off of Syria’s coast with enough firepower on-board to turn that country into the “sheet of glass” (3) war mongers have dreamed of since 9-11.
Then there is the issue of how this “authorization” will go through the Congress which many peaceful citizens have hanged their hopes on. Randolph Bourne, who was not in any of the Bourne Identity movies but was a great writer, wrote of Congress authorizing Presidents to make war only gave the illusion of citizen control. “In the freest of republics as well as in the most tyrannical of empires, all foreign policy… [to] produce or forestall war, are equally the private property of the Executive … and are equally exposed to no check whatever from popular bodies, or the people voting as a mass themselves.” (4)
Early Christians did not revere the Roman military, the Roman State and the Roman emperor’s commanding that military (5). The Founding Fathers were also mortified over the standing armies of Kings. After Korea, Vietnam, Iraq & Afghanistan we would be wise to start agreeing with them (6).
“General Musharraf said the warning was delivered by former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to Pakistan’s intelligence director. “I think it was a very rude remark,” Gen Musharraf told CBS television.
“It must never be forgotten that nations do not declare war on each other, nor in the strictest sense is it nations that fight each other. Much has been said to the effect that modern wars are wars of whole peoples and not of dynasties. Because the entire nation is regimented and the whole resources of the country are levied on for war, this does not mean that it is the country qua country which is fighting. It is the country organized as a State that is fighting, and only as a State would it possibly fight. So literally it is States which make war on each other and not peoples. Governments are the agents of States, and it is Governments which declare war on each other, acting truest to form in the interests of the great State ideal they represent. There is no case known in modern times of the people being consulted in the initiation of a war. The present demand for “democratic control” of foreign policy indicates how completely, even in the most democratic of modern nations, foreign policy has been the secret private possession of the executive branch of the Government.”
See “THE FEAR OF STANDING ARMIES” -Of all the powerful memories and emotions the Founding Fathers brought to the constitutional debates, apparently none was stronger than their fear of standing armies. As David Young has observed: “The necessity of an armed populace, protection against disarming of the citizenry, and the need to guard against a select militia and assure a real militia which could defend liberty against any standing forces the government might raise were topics interspersed throughout the ratification period.” Yet, in the absence of a standing army, how was the nation to defend itself from external or internal aggression? The Founding Fathers understood this would be accomplished by a militia. But what kind of militia? Here is a typical anti-federalist view, expressed by Richard Henry Lee (writing under the pseudonym “The Federal Farmer”): “A militia when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves, and render regular troops in great measure unnecessary. The powers to form and arm the militia, to appoint their officers, and to command their services, are very important; nor ought they in a confederated republic to be lodged, solely, in any one member of the government. First, the constitution ought to secure a genuine [ ] and guard against a select militia, by providing that the militia shall always be kept well organized, armed, and disciplined, and include, according to the past and general usage of the states, all men capable of bearing arms; and that all regulations tending to render this general militia ― useless and defenceless, by establishing select corps of militia, or distinct bodies of military men, not having permament interests and attachments in the community is to be avoided. …To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them….”