BLOGGER’S NOTE: The following is the declaration of war against Nazi Germany congress adopted and President Franklin Roosevelt signed. It essentially reads the same as the one against Japan adopted after the surprise attack by that nation on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941:
Whereas the Government of Germany has formally declared war against the government and the people of the United States of America:
Therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the state of war between the United States and the Government of Germany which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the government to carry on war against the Government of Germany; and to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.
That’s what a declaration of war looks like.
That does not look like what President Obama has proposed to fight ISIS.
Mr. Obama seems to be of the mind that you can and should spell out your policy, tactics, and methods within such a declaration, even including provisions to limit warfare.
I mean I realize this is not 1941, and we don’t seem to fight ultra large-scale wars as in the past (and I imagine we should be somewhat thankful for that), and I realize one size does not fit all in war resolutions, but when you limit yourself from the git go in the war resolution itself, as is done in Obama’s draft of a requested authorization to use military force against ISIS, how can you hope to have any military success?
We lost Vietnam for a variety of reasons, but number one was that we limited ourselves, in the terribly misguided notion that we could preserve lives of American soldiers — instead it turned out to be the opposite. Of course in that one it could be argued we never should have gone there. But we did, and the only honorable and moral course after committing so many of our children to battle would have been to use everything we had to win and get it done.
And I am not saying that every time we get into a dispute we have to immediately deploy large scale landings and combine air and ground assaults and put the public on war rationing, I’m just saying we have to be willing to do what needs to be done. And it would sure help if we did not telegraph what we plan or can do to the enemy.
As I understand it, the president is still using military forces in the Middle East under the authorization to use military force passed by congress as the result of the 9/11 attacks. And he says in reality that is all he needs, he just wants to clean things up and be a little more specific. He also says he would like to rescind the 2001 resolution.
I can see an argument for doing just that — I mean the 2001 declaration asked for and received by George W. Bush seems to allow for open-ended war forever.
So yes, there ought to be some specificity, but there is language in Obama’s draft that prohibits the president from deploying ground troops. But what if that becomes necessary? Better to just say we will use necessary force to get the job done — in the correct language of course, not verbatim as I just put it, maybe.
In the 1941 declaration the president was authorized to use the total resources of the military and the nation. That should always be left open. Just because a president can does not mean he will or should, he just needs to have all options open (well not nuclear war I don’t think — that would be a doomsday approach, but we should just keep mum on it and leave them wondering).
One thing, when we use military force, the president, the congress, and the American people should be on board. Confusion just costs lives and hinders success.