One Year Later: Still No Vote

 

WarIn case you missed it, this past weekend marked one year of America’s latest war. The intervention in Syria/Iraq began a year ago.

It’s not a real war, right? Sure, America’s military is killing people. Sure, it’s cost more than $3 billion. Sure, we spend $10 million every day. Sure, seven Americans have died so far. But it’s not really a war, right?

Of course it’s a war. It’s denying reality to say otherwise. The Third Iraq War. The War Against ISIS. Operation Inherent Resolve. (That we don’t even have a name for this war is very telling). The collective agreement among the press, the political class, and people on the both left and right, to refuse to even acknowledge that we’re at war does not change that fact.

We are in the midst of a national scandal. It’s more important than Hillary Clinton’s email server. It’s more important than anything Donald Trump says.

The national scandal is that nobody ever voted for this war. One man, Barack Obama, decided on his own to start a war. Congress, the body responsible for declaring war, and, barring that, maybe voting on it, refuses to do so.

Once again: The United States has been at war for a year and there hasn’t even been a vote in Congress. Can we at least have a damn vote on it?

The whole point of having a president, a Congress, and a Constitution, is that one man shouldn’t have all the power. The most important power, the power to make war, the power over life and death should not lie in the hands of one man!  

If this were anything else, education subsidies, anything, Congress would decry the imperial presidency and threaten to sue. And yet, here we are.

So I pose these questions:

Why are you okay with this?  Shouldn’t Congress at least vote on this war?  Is this limited government to you?

There are 86 comments.

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  1. Barkha Herman Inactive
    Barkha Herman
    @BarkhaHerman

    No way!!!!  No wars have been started under the benevolent rule or President Obama!

    • #1
  2. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Fred Cole: The national scandal is that nobody ever voted for this war. One man, Barack Obama, decided on his own to start a war. Congress, the body responsible for declaring war, and, barring that, maybe voting on it, refuses to do so. Once again: The United States has been at war for a year and there hasn’t even been a vote in Congress. Can we at least have a damn vote on it?

    Fred, the Congress did vote on it.  On Sept. 18, 2001, the Congress authorized the President  to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

    ISIS is an off-shoot of al-Qaeda.  You may not like it but those are the facts.

    • #2
  3. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Fred Cole: The national scandal is that nobody ever voted for this war.

    The fact that there is no widespread complaining about this fact tells you how such a vote would have panned out.

    Though I don’t agree with John Yoo on many related topics, I think he is absolutely right about the nature of the president’s commander in chief powers.

    Congress declaring a state of war has to do with setting status between nations, which has implications for things like trade.  I don’t believe it was created to hobble our ability to respond rapidly to threats.

    Congress has the ability to check him on this, but hasn’t.  They do not because they believe he is right.  Things are working as intended.

    • #3
  4. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Fred Cole: Why are you okay with this? Shouldn’t Congress at least vote on this war? Is this limited government to you?

    No, Yes, No.

    I think the reason they don’t want to vote is because they’d have to go on record one way or another and if there’s one thing this Congress and the previous one (mainly the Senate, but I digress) agree on it’s avoiding votes they have to explain to the electorate.

    • #4
  5. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    Operation Odyssey Dawn seems to have set quite the precedent. Congress now appears completely uninterested in making its voice heard in military interventions, an interesting change of affairs since the Bush administration when many were rather vocal on the subject.

    • #5
  6. Mike Hubbard Member
    Mike Hubbard
    @MikeHubbard

    Austin Murrey:

    Fred Cole: Why are you okay with this? Shouldn’t Congress at least vote on this war? Is this limited government to you?

    No, Yes, No.

    I’ll second Austin Murrey and add a question of my own.  Was there an appropriation bill funding this fiasco?  I feel like voting to fund this ought be scored, but am not sure by whom.

    • #6
  7. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Austin Murrey:

    Fred Cole: Why are you okay with this? Shouldn’t Congress at least vote on this war? Is this limited government to you?

    No, Yes, No.

    I think the reason they don’t want to vote is because they’d have to go on record one way or another and if there’s one thing this Congress and the previous one (mainly the Senate, but I digress) agree on it’s avoiding votes they have to explain to the electorate.

    Why should there be a vote?  This operation clearly falls under the 2001 resolution and the only resolution this President would accept would be one limiting his successor’s options.

    • #7
  8. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Klaatu: Why should there be a vote?  This operation clearly falls under the 2001 resolution and the only resolution this President would accept would be one limiting his successor’s options.

    Honestly I think more than one branch should weigh in when spending so much so long on separate conflicts.

    If Mexico erupts into a civil war and it’s discovered that al Qaeda is providing weapons to cash-flush cartels, do we need to have a vote on sending ground troops into Mexico or is it covered since al Qaeda is involved?

    I don’t think it’s an unreasonable request to expect Congress to weigh in on military campaigns more than once every 14 years.

    • #8
  9. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Austin Murrey:

    Klaatu: Why should there be a vote? This operation clearly falls under the 2001 resolution and the only resolution this President would accept would be one limiting his successor’s options.

    Honestly I think more than one branch should weigh in when spending so much so long on separate conflicts.

    If Mexico erupts into a civil war and it’s discovered that al Qaeda is providing weapons to cash-flush cartels, do we need to have a vote on sending ground troops into Mexico or is it covered since al Qaeda is involved?

    I don’t think it’s an unreasonable request to expect Congress to weigh in on military campaigns more than once every 14 years.

    Congress does weigh in by acquiescence and funding.

    • #9
  10. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Well, here we are, Fred.  back in the day, you and I agreed about this but for roughly opposite reasons.  I say that the president has the legal authority as cited by Klaatu, but not the moral authority.  As this is, to my estimation, just another battle in the long war which he already had us take a dive on, this traitor is uniquely unqualified to order men into battle for anything.  Throughout his term and across the globe, he arms our enemies and he weakens our allies.

    America voted for ISIS.  Enjoy the view.

    • #10
  11. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Austin Murrey: I don’t think it’s an unreasonable request to expect Congress to weigh in on military campaigns more than once every 14 years.

    Okay, pass a law to that effect.  There is no such constitutional requirement.

    • #11
  12. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    Klaatu:

    Why should there be a vote? This operation clearly falls under the 2001 resolution and the only resolution this President would accept would be one limiting his successor’s options.

    As the two groups are rather distinct, often denouncing one another, not to mention killing each others followers some might regard your interpretation of the 2001 resolution as overly broad.

    • #12
  13. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Klaatu:

    Austin Murrey:

    Klaatu: Why should there be a vote? This operation clearly falls under the 2001 resolution and the only resolution this President would accept would be one limiting his successor’s options.

    Honestly I think more than one branch should weigh in when spending so much so long on separate conflicts.

    If Mexico erupts into a civil war and it’s discovered that al Qaeda is providing weapons to cash-flush cartels, do we need to have a vote on sending ground troops into Mexico or is it covered since al Qaeda is involved?

    I don’t think it’s an unreasonable request to expect Congress to weigh in on military campaigns more than once every 14 years.

    Congress does weigh in by acquiescence and funding.

    Yep.  As with ObamaCare, welfare, amnesty/border issues, and the budget overall, not one penny of spending has occurred without the GOP’s direct and explicit approval.  The GOP has a “front-end veto” on spending every bit as effective as the President’s.  What you see today is what the GOP has funded.

    • #13
  14. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Roberto:

    Klaatu:

    Why should there be a vote? This operation clearly falls under the 2001 resolution and the only resolution this President would accept would be one limiting his successor’s options.

    As the two groups are rather distinct, often denouncing one another, not to mention killing each others followers some might regard your interpretation of the 2001 resolution as overly broad.

    The ‘some’ in this case does not include a significant percentage of the Congress or the American people.

    Branches off the same limb.  An internecine squabble among them does not change the threat to us.

    • #14
  15. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    Klaatu:

    Austin Murrey:

    Honestly I think more than one branch should weigh in when spending so much so long on separate conflicts.

    If Mexico erupts into a civil war and it’s discovered that al Qaeda is providing weapons to cash-flush cartels, do we need to have a vote on sending ground troops into Mexico or is it covered since al Qaeda is involved?

    I don’t think it’s an unreasonable request to expect Congress to weigh in on military campaigns more than once every 14 years.

    Congress does weigh in by acquiescence and funding.

    Yep. As with ObamaCare, welfare, amnesty/border issues, and the budget overall, not one penny of spending has occurred without the GOP’s direct and explicit approval. The GOP has a “front-end veto” on spending every bit as effective as the President’s. What you see today is what the GOP has funded.

    If the GOP wants to risk a shutdown, and lose the next set of elections, guaranteeing such funding will be replaced later, than it most certainly does.

    • #15
  16. Real Jane Galt Coolidge
    Real Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    If a Republican happens to win the next Presidential election then the new President will be called to task for fighting a war that the congress and the people are against.

    • #16
  17. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    We never declared war on the various Indian tribes we fought through out our western expansion. I also don’t believe we ever formally declared war on the South (of course doing so would have implied they were an independent nation, but still that was our biggest war ever). We did not declare war on the boxers in China, yet we deployed troops there.

    Now clearly the congress approved the Civil War, does anyone know if we had specific legislation about the other conflicts I have mentioned?

    I think Frank is basically right on this. The president has ordered the army to engage a quasi stateless enemy (at least that is how we publicly define them for better or worse), congress does not object and the president has not needed to ask for separate funds because it seems to be all part of the army budget. Silence implies consent. Congress can act when it chooses to to stop Obama. They don’t feel we should stop. Frankly many feel he should if anything do more, but alas you can’t force him to do that.

    • #17
  18. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    Klaatu:

    Austin Murrey:

    Klaatu: Why should there be a vote? This operation clearly falls under the 2001 resolution and the only resolution this President would accept would be one limiting his successor’s options.

    Honestly I think more than one branch should weigh in when spending so much so long on separate conflicts.

    If Mexico erupts into a civil war and it’s discovered that al Qaeda is providing weapons to cash-flush cartels, do we need to have a vote on sending ground troops into Mexico or is it covered since al Qaeda is involved?

    I don’t think it’s an unreasonable request to expect Congress to weigh in on military campaigns more than once every 14 years.

    Congress does weigh in by acquiescence and funding.

    Yep. As with ObamaCare, welfare, amnesty/border issues, and the budget overall, not one penny of spending has occurred without the GOP’s direct and explicit approval. The GOP has a “front-end veto” on spending every bit as effective as the President’s. What you see today is what the GOP has funded.

    Unfortunately that is not true.  When the Dems wrote Obamacare they placed the most of the funding for it outside of annual appropriations and the president was funding his executive amnesty with non-appropriated funds as well.

    Now I would agree the existence of such funding mechanisms is problematic but it is not something the Congress can fix by itself.

    • #18
  19. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Frank Soto: Okay, pass a law to that effect.  There is no such constitutional requirement.

    And I’m not arguing that there is a Constitutional requirement. At least I don’t think I did. Did I?

    Austin Murrey: Fred Cole: Why are you okay with this? Shouldn’t Congress at least vote on this war? Is this limited government to you?

    No, Yes, No.

    I think the reason they don’t want to vote is because they’d have to go on record one way or another and if there’s one thing this Congress and the previous one (mainly the Senate, but I digress) agree on it’s avoiding votes they have to explain to the electorate.

    No, not seeing it. I don’t think Fred did either, although he needs me defending him like the U.S. needs Canada to defend it! I’m merely stating that when we engage in the use of military force over the course of a year I think it’d be swell if the Legislative branch weighed in on the matter. I don’t think that’s a radical view either.

    You cannot answer every moral argument with procedure, just as you cannot answer every procedural argument with emotion. Fred, to my mind, is making an emotional appeal: there’s something profoundly wrong with ongoing military operations outside of express Congressional approval. I happen to agree with him and think it’s antithetical to my ideal of a limited government. I also think the vote has not been taken for cowardly reasons, as I stated.

    Klaatu: Congress does weigh in by acquiescence and funding.

    I’m highly skeptical of this argument for two reasons.

    One, money is fungible. It’s why I regard funding Planned Parenthood via tax dollars as morally repugnant – there’s no way anyone can reasonably say the money doesn’t support or fund abortion just because the law says it doesn’t.

    Two, the aforementioned cowardice. No one on the Democratic side wants to anger the anti-war lobby of the progressive base so they don’t want to vote for war in Syria. Conversely, no one on the Republican side wants to anger the pro-military lobby so they don’t want to vote against war in Syria (with the notable exception of Sen. Paul) lest they be accused of depriving the military of funds.

    So they don’t bring it forward which, like Fred, I find inimical to the idea of a limited government.

    • #19
  20. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Frank Soto:

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    Klaatu:

    Austin Murrey:

    Honestly I think more than one branch should weigh in when spending so much so long on separate conflicts.

    If Mexico erupts into a civil war and it’s discovered that al Qaeda is providing weapons to cash-flush cartels, do we need to have a vote on sending ground troops into Mexico or is it covered since al Qaeda is involved?

    I don’t think it’s an unreasonable request to expect Congress to weigh in on military campaigns more than once every 14 years.

    Congress does weigh in by acquiescence and funding.

    Yep. As with ObamaCare, welfare, amnesty/border issues, and the budget overall, not one penny of spending has occurred without the GOP’s direct and explicit approval. The GOP has a “front-end veto” on spending every bit as effective as the President’s. What you see today is what the GOP has funded.

    If the GOP wants to risk a shutdown, and lose the next set of elections, guaranteeing such funding will be replaced later, than it most certainly does.

    Gee, why doesn’t Obama risk this with a veto?  It could be made to happen, you know, but not with this defeat-minded loser mentality.

    • #20
  21. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Klaatu:

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    Klaatu:

    [snip]

    Congress does weigh in by acquiescence and funding.

    Yep. As with ObamaCare, welfare, amnesty/border issues, and the budget overall, not one penny of spending has occurred without the GOP’s direct and explicit approval. The GOP has a “front-end veto” on spending every bit as effective as the President’s. What you see today is what the GOP has funded.

    Unfortunately that is not true. When the Dems wrote Obamacare they placed the most of the funding for it outside of annual appropriations and the president was funding his executive amnesty with non-appropriated funds as well.

    Now I would agree the existence of such funding mechanisms is problematic but it is not something the Congress can fix by itself.

    Had a heck of an opportunity in October 2013.

    • #21
  22. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Frank Soto: If the GOP wants to risk a shutdown, and lose the next set of elections, guaranteeing such funding will be replaced later, than it most certainly does.

    Remember when Ted Cruz single-handedly lost us the 2014 Senate election? Me too, me too.

    • #22
  23. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Austin Murrey:

    Klaatu: Congress does weigh in by acquiescence and funding.

    I’m highly skeptical of this argument for two reasons.

    One, money is fungible. It’s why I regard funding Planned Parenthood via tax dollars as morally repugnant – there’s no way anyone can reasonably say the money doesn’t support or fund abortion just because the law says it doesn’t.

    I may be wrong but I believe the dollars for operations are appropriated separately from the regular defense appropriations.

    Two, the aforementioned cowardice. No one on the Democratic side wants to anger the anti-war lobby of the progressive base so they don’t want to vote for war in Syria. Conversely, no one on the Republican side wants to anger the pro-military lobby so they don’t want to vote against war in Syria (with the notable exception of Sen. Paul) lest they be accused of depriving the military of funds.

    So they don’t bring it forward which, like Fred, I find inimical to the idea of a limited government.

    I believe the reasoning most Republicans gave for refusing to take up Obama’s proposed resolution was it would have unnecessarily limited his successor’s actions.  He basically asked for a more restrictive authorization than he has now.

    • #23
  24. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    Klaatu:

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    Klaatu:

    [snip]

    Congress does weigh in by acquiescence and funding.

    Yep. As with ObamaCare, welfare, amnesty/border issues, and the budget overall, not one penny of spending has occurred without the GOP’s direct and explicit approval. The GOP has a “front-end veto” on spending every bit as effective as the President’s. What you see today is what the GOP has funded.

    Unfortunately that is not true. When the Dems wrote Obamacare they placed the most of the funding for it outside of annual appropriations and the president was funding his executive amnesty with non-appropriated funds as well.

    Now I would agree the existence of such funding mechanisms is problematic but it is not something the Congress can fix by itself.

    Had a heck of an opportunity in October 2013.

    When?  When the Dems controlled the Senate?

    • #24
  25. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    I think Klaatu’s right on this.  There’s no end-date to this:

    AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE AGAINST IRAQ RESOLUTION OF 2002

    And the situation over there, in large part through Obama’s malfeasance, is similar enough to be covered.

    The argument that ISIS isn’t al-Qaeda misses the point entirely.

    1. Should the war against Germany have ended if the Nazi party split and the new branch changed its name?

    2. The authorization isn’t limited to al-Qaeda:

    “(2) acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent
    with the United States and other countries continuing to take
    the necessary actions against international terrorist and
    terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations,
    or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the
    terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.”

    ISIS is clearly covered under that language.

    Fred’s never provided a coherent explanation of why this language doesn’t cover what we’re doing over there under Obama…

    • #25
  26. Fred Cole Inactive
    Fred Cole
    @FredCole

    Klaatu:Fred, the Congress did vote on it. On Sept. 18, 2001 [snip]

    ISIS is an off-shoot of al-Qaeda. You may not like it but those are the facts.

    Okay.  So, just so we’re clear on things:

    1. ISIS had nothing to do with 9/11.

    2. ISIS started as an offshoot years later, then became its own organization.

    3. ISIS has renounced all allegiance to al Qaeda.

    4. In locations where al Qaeda and ISIS co-exist (Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.) the two organizations are at war with eachother.

    Your interpretation the broadest possible reading of a war authorization from 14 years ago.  Let me pose a few questions:

    1. In light of the above mentioned facts, do you consider it intellectually honest to continue to use the 9/11 authorization against ISIS?

    2. Considering that this is a brand new war, shouldn’t there be a vote?

    3. Do you want to grant Barack Obama the broadest possible interpretation here?

    4. What other statutes do you want to grant Barack Obama the broadest possible interpretation on?

    5. Do you consider your argument consistent with the Constitution and/or the notion of limited government?

    6. If it can be stretched to cover ISIS, isn’t this actually a blank check to conduct war?

    7. Do you consider it appropriate to grant any president a blanket war authority?

    • #26
  27. Fred Cole Inactive
    Fred Cole
    @FredCole

    Frank Soto:The fact that there is no widespread complaining about this fact tells you how such a vote would have panned out.

    So if everybody agrees on something, the Constitution and the idea of check and balances don’t matter?

    • #27
  28. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Yes, and the Air Force was an offshoot of the Army, and has been trying to kill off the Army (and for that matter the Navy) ever since.  Yet we sometimes enjoy allied operations with them.

    • #28
  29. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    I thought we’ve always been at war with West Asia.

    • #29
  30. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Frank Soto: Though I don’t agree with John Yoo on many related topics, I think he is absolutely right about the nature of the president’s commander in chief powers. Congress declaring a state of war has to do with setting status between nations, which has implications for things like trade.

    My understanding of this has been that the power to declare war both has these functions but is also intended as a congressional referendum on hostilities. As Madison puts it in Federalist 41:

    That we may form a correct judgment on this subject, it will be proper to review the several powers conferred on the government of the Union; and that this may be the more conveniently done they may be reduced into different classes as they relate to the following different objects: 1. Security against foreign danger; 2. Regulation of the intercourse with foreign nations; 3. Maintenance of harmony and proper intercourse among the States; 4. Certain miscellaneous objects of general utility; 5. Restraint of the States from certain injurious acts; 6. Provisions for giving due efficacy to all these powers.

    The powers falling within the first class are those of declaring war and granting letters of marque; of providing armies and fleets; of regulating and calling forth the militia; of levying and borrowing money.

    Security against foreign danger is one of the primitive objects of civil society. It is an avowed and essential object of the American Union. The powers requisite for attaining it must be effectually confided to the federal councils.

    Is the power of declaring war necessary? No man will answer this question in the negative. It would be superfluous, therefore, to enter into a proof of the affirmative. The existing Confederation establishes this power in the most ample form.

    Is the power of raising armies and equipping fleets necessary? This is involved in the foregoing power. It is involved in the power of self-defense.

    I’m sure there are counterarguments, but that seems pretty persuasive to me.

    Moreover, forcing Congress to vote on such a thing seems like an immanently sensible idea. Wouldn’t we want the branch that represents the interests of the people and (at the time) the states to sign-off on major hostilities before the federal government commits to them?

    • #30

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