We Need to Listen to the Founders and Stop the Forever War.

Just a little over a year ago during his speech at the National Defense University here in Washington, D.C., President Obama talked about winding down Bush’s War on Terror. But as American bombers continue to strike against ISIS in Iraq and now Syria, it now looks like the War on Terror will be with us for years to come. And that’s a really dangerous thing for our democracy.

You see, aside from the return of the British Empire, there was nothing that scared our Founding Fathers more than multigenerational war - essentially, war without end. The Founders were scholars of classical history, and they knew that when given too much power, armies, like the armies ancient Rome, would push for more and more war, regardless of whether or not it was actually necessary for the safety of the people.

This threatened the very core of our system of government. As James Madison told the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention in 1787, “A standing military force... will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”

This idea that a standing army made powerful by war would one day “enslave” the people through perpetual war scared revolutionaries like Madison so much that they devoted a whole section of the Constitution towards preventing it from ever happening.

In Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, they gave Congress - the elected representatives of “We the People” - the sole power to raise and support armies, but - unlike any other appropriations - they limited the amount of time Congress could finance the army to a maximum of two years. And with the Second Amendment, the Founders tried to create a militia system that could make a standing army during peacetime unnecessary.

Obviously, today the military-industrial complex has found ways to work around the Founders’ checks and balances to create a standing army that is the most powerful in the world. But still, with President Obama’s decision to strike ISIS in Iraq and Syria, now is a vital time to listen to the Founders’ warnings about war without end, and the dangers it poses to our democracy.

That’s because whatever you think about the threat we face from groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda, there is no debate about the fact that the past 13 years of “forever war” have turned our country into something that would absolutely terrify our Founders.

We now have a surveillance state to rival anything created by the East Germans during the Cold War, and our Justice Department regularly talks about how the government has the authority to execute American citizens without trial both here in the US and anywhere in the world. If that doesn’t prove Madison’s quote about how “No nation [can] preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare,” nothing does.

Given what’s happened over the past decade, it’s easy to be cynical about whether or not “We the People” can stand up for what the Founders believed in and stop "continual warfare" before it’s too late. But there is a solution to stop this insanity: all it takes is an act of Congress.

According to the White House, President Obama has the authority to bomb ISIS in Iraq and Syria because Congress gave him that authority when it passed an authorization to use force against Al-Qaeda in 2001 and when it passed an authorization to use force against Iraq in 2002. And because President Obama says his authority to wage war without end comes from two acts of Congress, Congress has the power to repeal both of those acts and pass a new authorization for use of force, one that could limit - both in time and scope - the President from fighting ISIS forever.

Our elected representatives simply need to listen to our nation's founders and put real checks on the ability of the president and the military. War without end poses a very real threat to our democracy. And if Congress is serious about protecting our way of life, they'll pass a new, limited AUMF before we go the way of Ancient Rome.

After all, it's what the Founders would have done.


Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 35 weeks ago

Mr. Brush, you're not supposed to use this forum for advertising. If the webmasters find out, you might get stuck with a big fat bill you hadn't bargained for. A thousand bucks a day adds up. - AIW

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 35 weeks ago

Aliceinwonderland ~ Agreed! It's difficult to say whether or not Mr. Brush deserves a flag more for demeaning this forum or for trivializing this most serious subject? I'm just going to let the webmaster worry about that one.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 35 weeks ago

I got an interesting email from our friend Dennis Kucinich today about this very topic. He provided two links revealing the way both Senate and House members voted for and against the appropriation for funds to back Syrian rebels against ISIS. Isn't that how we created this problem in the first place? His advice was quite simple. Note who voted for it and plan to vote them out of office on your earliest convenience. On this one issue they have shown that they no longer deserve to hold power.



2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 35 weeks ago

The Roman Empire also now and then opted to pay tribute to various enemy combatants as a way to avoid warfare. Instead now in modern times our "enlightened" capitalist leaders choose to arm enemy combatants as a way to whip up the business of killing for profit. I don't see much difference between this mentality and that of gamblers attaching metal spurs to gamecocks.

historywriter's picture
historywriter 8 years 35 weeks ago

Never ever do business with a creep like this. Spread the word.

Kend's picture
Kend 8 years 35 weeks ago

This is kinda weird. I agree with Alice AND Marc. We get enough advertising Everywhere.

Kend's picture
Kend 8 years 35 weeks ago

I listen to Hartmann on sirrus. He was on channel 127 but it is gone I can seem to find him up here in Canada. Any suggestions.

ScottFromOz 8 years 35 weeks ago

The past 30 odd years of Reaganomics have seen a continual and accelerating decline of the living standards of the middle and lower classes. The discontent and unrest that this would normally foment must be diverted towards External Enemies, hence the need for an endless war now. This discontent is also the reason why the surveillance of the population is now essential.

But what's to be done about it? The corporates and the 1% now control (and actually write) the legislation for their own benefit. This won't change by "democratic" means as our political system is no longer a democracy. We now only get to choose which corporate lapdogs are nominally in charge. We, the people no longer have ANY say in the running of the country. Will our great nation become like Bangladesh, Cambodia and a host of other fourth world basket case nations?

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 35 weeks ago


richinfolsom 8 years 35 weeks ago

"Shock and awe" brought to by CNN, Fox, NBC (Comcast), ABC (Disney) and their corporate advertisers - cars, beer, male sex enhancement drugs, and where to invest your 401k before the next 'crash.'

The rhetoric is mind numbing. CNN - all of them - are little more than terrorist media delivery messengers for the maligned voices of terror. Americans did not scare easily in the face of the Cuban Missile Crisis as the world stood on the edge of absolute destruction. America stood tall and united to bring WWII to conclusion with five years.

Shock and awe.

Terrorists. Ebola. Strange viruses in the mid-west. A fired employee kills and decapitates a coworker. Father in Atlanta kills six and then himself. Detroit is little more than a shell of what was American greatness. Black men shot and killed for being black.

Shock and awe.

As with most war, it is easier and more profitable to sell images of the battle than understand the financial and political injustice that blossoms into war. NPR interviewed a reporter with years living with the Kurds in one of the oil richest nations in the world. Iraq oil brings in $85 billion per year. Much like Reagonomics, it doesn't trickle down very far.

The US mis-managed Afghanistan which gave us Bin Laden. The US mis managed Iran, fired the army, and left the country broke and ruined - with US weapons scattered throughout the region.

There are many who subscribe to the forever war. The religious. The politicians committed to hold on to power. The corporations, lined up to fill there coffers with oil and gold; the bimbo blonde reading a TelePrompTer.

We will never bomb their hearts and minds into submission.

G3orjOrr's picture
G3orjOrr 8 years 35 weeks ago

At moments like these, I like to leaf through my dogeared copy of Emmanuel Goldstein's classic treatise, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. Imagine his prescience at having written, way back in 1984, that "War is peace" -- words that no doubt inspired George W. Bush to say, in 2002, "I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace." How inevitable it all must seem from the armchairs at the top: an irresistible force, a social current that carries them along in the grip of an ice floe of airtight logic and lack of conceivable alternatives, until suddenly one day it all disappears, usually when the money runs out and the empire implodes. I doubt that anything will distract them -- our bureaucrats and legislators -- from rituals of combat or satiny dreams of war-based boom times until the oil dries up and climate change becomes too fierce to ignore.

SueN's picture
SueN 8 years 35 weeks ago

Thanks for the heads up about the spam. :)

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 35 weeks ago

Kend, Thom has a free smart phone app.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 35 weeks ago

The "war on terror" can never be won because it is not a war on any individual or collective of people but against a behavior or a method of fighting. It will always be possible to kill innocent civillians en masse for political gains so it can never be be won.

It is not only like a war on crime - which, too, can never be won - but is, in fact, a war on crime, and so, it is, appropriately, not a military concern but a security concern. As Bob Scheerer first raised, the only reason it became a military concern was because defense contractors saw 9/11 as an opportunity but there is no logical reason tanks, planes and submarines need to be built to stop guys with box cutters.

There are no "Al Quaeida training camps", for example, the Al Quaeida training camps are the flight schools of the U.S..

Kend's picture
Kend 8 years 35 weeks ago

Thanks Mark.

Alberto Ceras 2's picture
Alberto Ceras 2 8 years 34 weeks ago

Let's see. There once was a military draft and veterans of Viet Nam became peace activists. Then, to reduce protests and make U.S.'s wars more acceptable (sort of invisible), Congress concocted the All Volunteer Army and hired the likes of Blackwater. Now we learn that illegal immigrants may be allowed to serve. Pure mercenaries, no allegiance to anything resembling democratic government nor to anything decent. "Pay me, baby, I'll kill for you." And the public, with little or no emotional involement, believes itself licensed to ignore the slaughter.

When, if ever, will people understand that a return to a military draft is the one hope, maybe the only possibility, that might curb the U.S.'s never-ending wars?

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 34 weeks ago

Maybe we should have a foreign legion. Immigrants serving in the military in return for citizenship don't necessarily lack loyalty to the United States. I think the logic is that they prove their loyalty by serving.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 34 weeks ago

"War on terror", "war on drugs", "war on crime"... We've still got terror, drugs and crime, with hardly a dent in any one of these! So much for all this bluster. - AIW

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