We are not a nation at war. We are a nation with a military at war. But the general public is so far removed from the loss of life and money that we can and do pretty much ignore foreign policy.
For those of us who live in Northwest Florida, it’s a less academic conversation. We are surrounded by one of the heaviest concentrations of military bases in the world. Almost monthly, a person stationed here is killed in action.
So I listened carefully a few days ago when the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, President Obama, announced in true Orwellian fashion that the Afghanistan war would end Dec. 31, 2014, with one exception: NATO will retain a large military presence there.
The United States is NATO’s biggest supporter, funding at least 25 percent of its budget, not counting boots on the ground, and as much as 75 percent if you do. Which leads me to ask: “Is there anything Americans can do about having to fund these undeclared wars?”
Obama apologists call these “Bush’s wars,” ignoring who’s been the Commander/Narcissist in Chief -- “I killed Osama, vote for me!!”-- for the last three years.
Salon.com reports that under President George W. Bush, we had combat operations in 60 nations. Now that number is 75. We’ve even got special ops involved in Uganda, part of what’s called the “Kony T-Shirt War of 2012.”
Under President Bush, foreign military activities were part of “the global war on terror.” The Obama administration prefers to call them “overseas contingency operations.” Problem is, there’s no process for the people to end these OCOs. We are completely reliant on our pro-operations president to do the “right” thing.
Since the media has failed miserably in their once valuable watchdog role of spotlighting new military interventions, we, the people, need to raise the debate about following the Constitution, especially this clause: The Congress shall have the power to declare war.
Yet under both Republican and Democratic control, Congress repeatedly punts on placing this nation in a state of war, even while continuing to fund more and more military interventions through Chinese debt instruments. And while Congress has the power to fund foreign military adventures, it lacks the moral willpower to end them.
It is time for Congress to either put this nation at war or bring the troops home and end the ever-growing loss of life and money.
If you have access to the president or his secretary of state, who voted for the Iraq invasion, ask them about it. Don’t sit on your hands like Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara did in 1967, condemning thousands more soldiers to an unnecessary death.
Same applies to Mitt Romney staffers sitting out there. You could accidentally do the right thing and promise to return to a Constitutional standard for waging war. It’s the conservative thing to do, even if it’s not the Republican thing to do.
It’s time we demand more of our Congress, and that starts by demanding more of ourselves. We should set aside the political-points scoring system and make our elected officials take serious our desire to end these undeclared wars.
We cannot “hope” the next president does the right thing, because as the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner has shown, the power to wage overseas contingency operations without limits is seemingly irresistible.
Henry Kelley, a Fort Walton Beach business owner, is an active leader of the Florida tea party movement.
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