Instead of waiting around for President Barack Obama to do something (besides doing the wave at a Cuban baseball game or playing golf), Congress ought to exercise its exclusive power to declare war on ISIS.
Nothing in the U.S. Constitution requires Congress to wait around for the president to send it a request to declare war. George Washington established that precedent in the War of 1812 and President Franklin Roosevelt went to Congress to declare war on Japan during World War II.
But the Constitution is quite clear. Article One, Section Eight empowers Congress "To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water...." And "To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions...." The president doesn't have to lift a finger, something that Obama is good at.
It's time for the debate, following the ISIS-declared war on democracy, Western civilization and decency. The slaughter in Brussels is just the latest example. Islamic jihad clearly has declared war on the United States and its allies.
Be clear, I'm not calling for a declaration of war, only for a heart-felt and honest debate. However, it's my own belief that a clear-cut declaration of war and the molding to strategies to win it is the only way to defeat the Islamic jihad. You can't guard every subway, airport, theater, arena or street to prevent the criminal and immoral killing of innocents. You can't cure the disease by dealing with only the symptoms.
The only way to win the war against Islamic radicals, in my opinion, is to demonstrate to its adherents that victory isn't inevitable. So that it stops attracting the unbalanced and morally blind to the side of Islamic extremism, in the belief that victory is certain. And the only way to do that is to destroy ISIS where it lives. Sure, individuals will carry on the war, but by denying them the appearance of victory and a place to conduct the war from, it will go a long way to dampening, if not ending, the carnage.
A self-initiated declaration of war by Congress is far from certain. But it will move a constipated administration to pay attention, to provide a serious platform for a comprehensive debate on goals and strategy. It will provide the kinds of answers that people such as Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass reasonably seek. (See another fine Kass column: "Strategy to fight terrorism needs to become part of presidential debate."
But why, pray tell, should it be left to the presidential candidates? All we've heard from them is gibberish. We've become too dependent on the executive branch of government, as if it were our sole leader. This is a republic/democracy (take your linguist pick) with all the legislative powers invested in Congress. I suppose that Obama would veto a declaration of war and if it were overridden would in some way try to refuse to execute the war in the way that Congress directs. So be it; the political fallout of failing to execute the Congressional declaration will be something that he and his Democratic Party would have to deal with.
But at least the debate would return decision-making on this important issue to where it belongs.
Read why Americans need to learn about the nation's most ignored war.
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