Congress should retake its power to declare war; then talk about the draft

Tue, 09/11/2007 - 3:09pm
By: Letters to the ...

As we enter the 54th month of combat in Iraq and some units, and individual service members, are on their third, and in some cases fourth, tour of duty, now 15 versus 12 months in length, the issue of how we man our armed forces during a time of “war” has resurfaced.

The standard question of, “Should we re-institute the draft?” is too ill-defined. What should be asked is: What conditions require the draft to be reintroduced?

But, before looking at the draft issue, let us admit that the volunteer armed forces have been a success — in peacetime.

The problem that arises is just how do we man the armed forces during time of war. And here we need a definition of “war.”

For at least half of a century we have tended to bastardize the term “war” by utilizing it as a somewhat simple way to attack almost any generic, even civil, problem and as such have had a “war” on poverty, drugs, crime and, now, terror. To date, sadly, none has been successful nor, arguably, ever will.

WAR, not “war,” is too serious a matter to be treated like some type of game or exercise. WAR can be magnificent for its personal and national sacrifice, dedication, bravery and heroism; conversely, WAR can be horrific in terms of death, destruction and suffering. WAR, in its truest sense, should never be taken lightly.

Every military activity which involves combat and casualties is not necessarily a WAR. We have military incursions, police actions, forays, rescue missions and just plain military operations (Panama and Grenada come to mind) which may involve military and civilian casualties and destruction, but are not considered WARS.

If we have learned anything from our history, it is that we win WARS which, in consonance with the Constitution, we declare (World Wars I and II), but tend to wallow in those which we do not declare (Korea, Vietnam and Iraq).

When there is an ample amount of time to debate and deliberate broad-based military operations far from our shores, we owe it to the nation, in general, and the armed forces, in particular, to declare WAR.

By raising the issue to be debated in the Congress we require that the members of Congress and the President, as Commander In Chief, to state clearly just what the goals of a declared WAR would be (“unconditional surrender” defined the goal of World War II very effectively and succinctly).

Just removing the head of what is considered a potentially threatening state with no definition as to what will follow is a prescription for disaster (prime example, Iraq).

Also, there should be no clever wordsmithing (“authorization for the use of military force”) which does more to obfuscate the potential use of military force than clarify our eventual goals (Iraq, again, is a truly sad example). Congress should NEVER abdicate its exclusive duty, not that of the Chief Executive, to declare WAR.

WARS should be fought by all elements of a nation, not just the military. Civilian sacrifice, possibly in terms of rationing and needed additional taxes, should be broadly explained, discussed and decided upon before declaring WAR.

The Constitution (Section 8, Article I), which has tended to be ignored since 1941, in terms of the requirement that the Congress declare WAR, should be adhered to.

Concurrent with debate before a declaration of WAR is enacted should be legislation introduced which re-institutes a WARTIME draft.

Telling their constituents just why they are about to endure home-front hardships along with sending their loved ones into harm’s way, with all that entails, is a sobering demand which should be required of every congressman before voting to declare WAR.

Once declared, turn the responsibility of conducting the WAR over to Commander In Chief and provide the necessary funds, equipment and numbers of military personnel.

Participating in WAR is the most serious national security policy decision that a nation can make, and it should not be undertaken without the voted-upon backing of the people’s voice, the Congress of the United States.

Once WAR is declared, fight it to win, fight it as quickly and effectively as possible, and fight it with a truly awesome military force composed of a peacetime volunteer army augmented, as required, by the necessary number of draftees.

Wade J. Williams

Colonel, USA (Ret.)

Peachtree City, Ga.

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hutch866's picture
Submitted by hutch866 on Tue, 09/11/2007 - 7:30pm.

I was one of those first all volunteer enlistee's and was lucky to have never had to go to war, but call it what you will, to the people being shot at, it's a war.

I yam what I yam...Popeye

AF A-10's picture
Submitted by AF A-10 on Sat, 09/15/2007 - 9:25am.

I seriously think all Americans should try putting themselves in the boots of our warriors to try and understand the sacrifices we are asking them to make over and over and over. My good friend from Vance AFB, a Flight Surgeon, just got to the theater in Afghanistan. The stories she has relayed back are UNBELIEVABLE! We don't even know the half of what is actually happening. Many more injuries than we will hear about. Terrible visions that will haunt many of these soldiers for years to come. Hopefully the younger generations will continue to step up in adequate numbers, but we have to earn their trust, that we will make smart decisions back here at home as to when, where, and for how long we commit them.

Take care, brother, and have a great weekend.

Kevin "Hack" King

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