Debts and Taxes, Oh My!
Clearing House" -- -- Recently, an
Associated Press report reaffirmed to me that the
leadership of the two major political parties in America are
totally in favor of continuing war in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Senate agreed to spend an additional $63 billion
for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as lawmakers
passed a massive bill that funds the Pentagon.
The bill sailed through by a vote of 98-0
I was immediately reminded of a common sense observation by
"In reviewing the history of the English Government, its
wars and its taxes, a bystander, not blinded by prejudice nor
warped by interest, would declare that taxes were not raised to
carry on wars, but that wars were raised to carry on taxes."
Interestingly enough, that doesn't sound much different than
what we experience today!
A TWO-HEADED MONSTER
There are only a few politicians that are truly opposed to
war. Some people are amazed or even angry when I state my
position; that war is not the fault of just Bush and the
Republican Party, but the Democratic Party as well; they are
equally responsible for starting, fueling, and funding the war
If my memory hasn't failed yet, it wasn't just the Republican
Party that got us into this horrible mess. The Democrats voted
for it as well, promoted it as a necessity, and even bombed Iraq
on a regular basis throughout the 1990s; all the while
aggressively supporting UN sanctions that resulted in
over one million innocents dead.
Not only did both parties authorize the invasion en masse,
they continue to join together to overwhelmingly approve
billions more dollars to continue the killing.
So, even though Bush will someday leave office and cease
being a "war president," we must start facing the fact that it's
not just him or his neo-conned Republican party that are guilty
of war crimes; it's the American political machine, fronted by
both the Republicans and Democrats, that is completely addicted
to the power and profits of warfare. It's the American
political machine that we must resist.
The only way to improve America's image is to end our wars
immediately. We must also bring home all our troops,
not only from Iraq and Afghanistan, but also from the more than
100 other countries where the U.S. government interferes with
its so-called military presence. Of course, once we achieve
this, those Americans who would nonetheless wish to leave their
families and jobs to help oppressed people overseas would still
be free to do so.
But, such a "withdrawal" will never happen as long as the
Republican and Democratic parties are ruling over us.
By now, it's become rather clear to those of us "not
blinded by prejudice nor warped by interest" that even when
the People want peace, the two major parties
Another 98-0 vote should make that quite obvious.
BACK TO BASICS
The standard belief is that all American wars have been
fought to "protect freedom." On the contrary, these wars have
been the primary impetus for the growth of centralized power in
the federal government. Wars have eaten away at our liberty,
crippled our economy, intensified our national debt and shamed
our image as the "land of the free." We have lost freedom
because of these wars; not secured it as the politicians have
Simply stated, the Constitution allows for the commencement
of war only after a declaration of war from the Congress. By
waging wars without the constitutionally required declaration of
war, the president has blatantly violated the Constitution.
Some people have tried to tell me that a declaration of war
wasn't necessary after Congress delegated this power to
president in late 2002. They claim that this was a legal
substitute for the Constitutionally-required Congressional
declaration of war.
This is utter nonsense.
First of all, the power to "declare war" was given to
Congress by the Framers so that the legislature - the branch
most closely tied to the People, whose money and lives would be
put at risk - would be making the decision of whether or not war
would commence. The commander-in-chief only has the
power to wage war once war has been declared.
It's the representatives of the People who have
the power to declare war. Such power is clearly enumerated in
Section 8 of the Constitution, and I encourage you to read
it for yourself.
Furthermore, in accordance with the
Amendment, the Supreme Court has long held it to be illegal
for any branch of the federal government to delegate or transfer
its constitutional powers to any other person or branch of
Simply put, unless a direct attack is being repelled,
Congress is where war starts. Period.
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land that
We the People have instituted to limit the actions of
federal officials. Like it or not, politicians must abide by
its restrictions on power. If they don't like a particular part
of the Constitution, or even if they think it's outdated, the
only appropriate action is to call for a Constitutional
Amendment, not just ignore the law.
By waging wars without a Congressional declaration, the
Executive branch has repeatedly violated the Constitution. By
delegating its power to declare war to the president, the
Congress has repeatedly violated the Constitution as well.
DANGEROUS TO LIBERTY
Beginning with Harry Truman and the Korean War, Democrat and
Republican presidents alike have taken the position that it's no
longer necessary for Congress to declare war. Presidents send
armed forces to fight wars all over the world without
The sad reality, though, is that Congress can stop or even
prevent such foreign entanglements at any time by simply
refusing to finance them. Such power is not insubstantial. The
current war in Iraq has now been going on for over 15 years, has
spanned the administration of three presidents, and multiple
congresses under the control of both political parties. This
proves that Congress is just as responsible as the Executive for
this unconstitutional war.
So, in Iraq, we see yet another failure of our vaunted
Constitutional Republic to maintain a peaceful America.
Thus, the Constitution has become little more than a
glorified sham, as Congress and the Executive have habitually
succeeded in using it as a cover to violate our inalienable
rights. Since our current wars were started on unconstitutional
grounds, any further funding and continuation of them is illegal
and unconstitutional. In this sense, any funding bills approved
by the Congress are illegitimate.
So, unfortunately, unless we do something ourselves, we're
stuck waiting for an unconstitutional Congress to take the
lead. With yet another war funding bill "sailing through
the Senate," the prospects for peace don't look too good.
The painful truth is that Democrats and Republicans aren't
going to end this war. We will, by refusing to play by their
WHAT THE FOUNDERS THOUGHT
As the founders stated so often, the greatest threat to our
liberty is our own government. This is the only reason we even
have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. If our government
wasn't dangerous to freedom, these documents wouldn't even be
Historically, what is the number one way that governments
take away freedoms from the People? The founders knew quite
well; through its military. This is why many of the founders
vehemently opposed a standing army; a professional military
force. They knew that such an institution would grow into a
beast, and be used to involve the country in dangerous, costly,
destructive and foolish wars. Even more so, they warned that
politicians would eventually use the troops to ensure a
subservient citizenry at home.
There is only one solution to these threats to our liberty
and safety. We must finally act on the warnings of the Founders
against standing armies. If we would have dismantled the
massive American military empire years ago, the federal
government wouldn't have had the power to create the catastrophe
we face today. They wouldn't have had the ability to set up a
massive military presence throughout the Middle East. Thus,
they would never have been able to kill over a million in Iraq
with unconstitutional wars, sanctions, and invasions. Without
all this death, we wouldn't have had terrorist attacks on our
country, and therefore, we wouldn't have had a "war on
terrorism." Without the war on terror, we never would have
experienced the Patriot Act, warrantless spying, secret courts,
military tribunals, rendition flights, and other attacks on our
None of this would have been surprising to the founders.
James Madison gave us ample warning, "Of all the enemies to
public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because
it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the
parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and
armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for
bringing the many under the domination of the few."
STOPPING WAR NOW
As stated so clearly in the Declaration of Independence, the
American people have every right to write a new declaration of
independence from the illegitimate, unlawful, and
unconstitutional acts of their rulers. Such rights are
inalienable and absolute in all people. Rights cannot be altered
or abolished; governments can.
In fact, Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration,
felt that governments should be abolished periodically just to
keep political leaders in check. Shortly before the
Constitution was ratified, he wrote to Abigail Adams, "The
spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain
occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive."
My hope is that such a spirit of resistance
will rise once again before too many more innocent lives are
Michael Boldin [send
him email], an outspoken critic of the American
political system, is a senior editor and contributing writer for
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