December 13, 2017

Without Rand Paul It Isn’t a Debate, Trump or No Trump

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, addresses the Sunshine Summit in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, addresses the Sunshine Summit in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The big news from last Thursday’s Republican Presidential Debate on Fox News was the absence of what Meghan Kelly called, “the elephant not in the room.” Thanks to the ongoing feud between her and front runner Donald Trump, the latter was not on the stage. In what was largely treated as a footnote, Rand Paul was.

Several media have asserted the debate was more substantive without Trump, the issues having more space in the absence of his overpowering personality and the likely attention that would have been paid to his controversial style. But it wasn’t Trump’s absence that made this debate more substantive. It was Rand Paul’s presence. Without him, the last spectacle wasn’t a debate at all.

Debate moderators are television people. They are interested in whatever makes the best television and gets the highest ratings. The debate moderators on Thursday, echoing the larger media narrative, continually pushed the establishment vs. anti-establishment theme. That’s certainly a phenomenon in this election cycle, but it really means nothing in terms of policy.

The whole purpose of this exercise is to determine the difference, if any, between the candidates seeking the presidency. Without Rand Paul, there isn’t a difference to determine, not even with Trump. Trumps style might be different, but he’s a lot more like an establishment Republican than the media narrative would have one believe.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Congress is not authorized to start a war with Syria, either

congress

TAMPA, August 29, 2013 – The British Parliament is debating the U.K.’s response to an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government against rebels and civilians. This prompted Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to tweet a picture juxtaposing the ongoing debate in Parliament with the empty U.S. Congress building.

Cruz and others have expressed the opinion that President Obama cannot take military action against Syria without consulting Congress first.

They’re wrong. Congress doesn’t have the power to start a war with Syria, either, under present circumstances.

Most people misunderstand the declaration of war power as “permission” to start a war. It’s not.

The Constitution grants Congress the power to declare that a state of war already exists. This can only be true if the nation in question has committed overt acts of war against the United States.

This is supported by each and every declaration of war in U.S. history. Each declaration has followed the same format.

1. Congress cites the overt acts of war committed by the nation in question against the United States.

2. It recognizes the existence of the war because of those overt acts.

3. It directs the president to utilize the military to end the war.

The process is somewhat analogous to a criminal trial. The president “makes his case” to Congress that certain actions by a foreign nation amount to acts of war. Congress then deliberates, renders its verdict and passes sentence. The president is directed to execute the sentence.

When James Polk asked Congress to declare war on Mexico in 1846, he said,

“But now, after reiterated menaces, Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon the American soil. She has proclaimed that hostilities have commenced, and that the two nations are now at war.

As war exists, and, notwithstanding all our efforts to avoid it, exists by the act of Mexico herself, we are called upon by every consideration of duty and patriotism to vindicate with decision the honor, the rights, and the interests of our country.

In further vindication of our rights and defense of our territory, I invoke the prompt action of Congress to recognize the existence of the war, and to place at the disposition of the Executive the means of prosecuting the war with vigor, and thus hastening the restoration of peace.

After deliberating, Congress issued the following declaration of war,

“Whereas, by the act of the Republic of Mexico, a state of war exists between that Government and the United States: Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of American in Congress assembled, That for the purpose of enabling the government of the United States to prosecute said war to a speedy and successful termination…”

Note the italicized words. The state of war already exists because of the act of the Republic of Mexico.

Most people remember FDR’s Pearl Harbor speech during which he rattled off the acts of war committed by Japan. “Last night, Japanese forces attacked Wake Island. Last night, Japanese forces attacked Midway Island, etc.” Roosevelt concluded,

“I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”

The framers of the Constitution intended that the president would never initiate planned military action until this process took place. Yes, the president could deploy the military if the British or Spanish were discovered marching through Maryland, a very real possibility at the time.

Otherwise, acts of war had to be committed against the United States before the president directed a military response.

Syria’s government may or may not have used chemical weapons against its own people. It has not committed any acts of war against the United States. Therefore, there is no basis upon which to declare a state of war between Syria and the United States.

The constitution assumes that the only justification to utilize U.S. military resources is to defend U.S. citizens after another nation has initiated a state of war. The only exception is to defend a nation with whom the United States has signed a treaty establishing one of those entangling alliances the founders told us to avoid.

The Syrian conflict meets none of those requirements. Neither Congress nor the president have any constitutional authority to attack.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Why does Ron Paul insist on a declaration of war?

TAMPA, August 14, 2012 – Ron Paul insists that the U.S. government shouldn’t go to war without a declaration of war by Congress. His son Rand has also taken this position, as have a few other libertarian-leaning Republican candidates. The U.S. Constitution delegates the declaration of war power to the Congress, but they have not exercised this power since WWII.

Why is this important?

Most people misunderstand the declaration of war power as “permission” to start a war. By that definition, George W. Bush argued that H.J. Res. 114 (October 16, 2002) fulfilled this constitutional requirement regarding the Iraq War. With that resolution, Congress authorized the president to use military force in the war on terror.

The declaration of war power is not the power to start a war. It is the power to declare that a state of war already exists. This can only be true if the nation in question has committed overt acts of war against the United States.

Each time the U.S. Congress has declared war, the resolution has followed the same format.

1. Congress cites the overt acts of war committed by the nation in question against the United States.

2. It recognizes the existence of the war because of those overt acts.

3. It directs the president to utilize the military to end the war.

The process is some what analogous to a criminal trial. The president “makes his case” to Congress that certain actions by a foreign nation amount to acts of war. Congress then deliberates, renders its verdict and passes sentence. The president is directed to execute the sentence.

Here is just one example. When James Polk asked Congress to declare war on Mexico in 1846, he said,

Continue at Washington Times Communities…

To the People of Texas: Concerning the Republican Presidential Primary

It is no accident that so many of the books and movies about the Old West are set in Texas. There is something about Texas that stirs the soul. It is the yearning for freedom.

From before its birth as a republic or a state within this union, Texas has been a place where people have gone to be free. As an isolated state in the Mexican republic, Texas provided a sanctuary for all who wished to live their lives without interference from a distant capital. When the Mexican government attempted to exert centralized, despotic power over your ancestors, they fought with Santa Anna and the federalists. When that general later repudiated liberty and betrayed the Texans, they stood against him and won their freedom again.

Americans have always thought of Texas as an independent state that only reluctantly joined the union, with one foot out the door ever since. It is not that Texans are unpatriotic. On the contrary, Texas is the last place in America where the principle of federalism still seems to live. None doubt that Texas will support and defend her fellow states. However, Americans have always fondly imagined Texas’ stance towards the federal government to be, “Don’t push us too far or we’ll leave. We’re quite capable of taking care of ourselves.”

In an age where centralized power has reached into every aspect of our lives, only Texas exudes a spirit of resistance. When Americans think of a well-armed, independent populace, they invariably think of Texans. If the federal juggernaut is ever to be checked, who better to lead?

The limits on government power have been under attack since the birth of the republic. Now they are all but gone. The government no longer protects your life. It claims the power to kill you without trial. It no longer protects your property, but loots it to fund its failed social programs and foreign adventures. Worst of all, it no longer recognizes your God-given right to liberty. It believes that it can tell Texans what they can eat, what they can drink, how they must run their businesses, what they can and cannot do on their own property, and even what they can think.

Sadly, most Americans have forgotten how abhorrent these ideas are. Many of us like to think that Texans have not forgotten. Have you? You have an opportunity to answer that question during this election year. There is one man running for president that opposes everything that is wrong with America. It is no mistake that he comes from Texas.

For Texas Republicans, every election must bring back the sting of Santa Anna’s betrayal. Republican politicians are elected specifically to cut the size and scope of government. They never do. The Democratic Party openly admits that it seeks to expand government at all levels. At least they are honest. The Republicans claim to oppose that agenda, but have expanded government whenever they have been in power.

This election year is no different. Certainly, Barack Obama makes no promises to shrink the government. He believes that all economic growth originates from some sort of government intervention. He believes that the purpose of government is to redistribute wealth. He opposes the basic ideals that made America great. He makes no secret of this. At least we know where he stands.

It is the Republican candidates that represent the potential for another betrayal. As usual, they say that they intend to cut federal spending and power, but they will not name one specific program that they will cut. None of them, that is, except Ron Paul.

Congressman Paul has stood alone for decades against the unchecked growth of government and is the only candidate committing to cut it. He has already published a budget that cuts $1 trillion from the federal budget during his first year as president. It eliminates five federal departments, not only saving money, but reestablishing the principle that the federal government has no business regulating education, housing, commerce, energy, or “the interior.” These are all powers properly left to the states or to the people. His opponents do not make similar promises because they do not truly believe in these principles.

You may have been told that Ron Paul is “unelectable” because of his foreign policy. What is that policy? It is that only the American people may decide to go to war, through their elected representatives in Congress. Ron Paul insists that no president or general may usurp that power. If war is truly necessary, then there should be a debate in the Congress and a declaration of war. When America followed this constitutional process, we won wars. Since America has abandoned it, we have never really won a war.

We instead send our soldiers to far-off lands with no definition of victory. Their hands are tied with confusing rules of engagement that prevent them from winning and allow the wars to drag on. This benefits those who profit from war, but not those who give their lives or are forced to pay. How much longer will we go on like this? Sixty years later, what is the U.S. military’s mission in Korea and when will it end? Germany? Japan?

Ron Paul will end those missions now and recommit our military to defending this country. Most importantly, if war should comes during his presidency, he will have it properly declared by Congress and will allow our military to win it. Do you truly believe that any of the other candidates will do likewise? Make no mistake, Ron Paul is the only president that will win the next war.

Our nation is on the verge of socio-economic collapse. Every reasonable person recognizes that the federal government is the root of the problem. Who will stand up and oppose it? Every media outlet is arranged against Ron Paul and anyone else that suggests pushing back. Americans are bombarded daily with propaganda supporting the status quo. The Republican Party leadership doesn’t oppose it at all.

Ron Paul is our last hope. A vote for anyone else is a vote for more of what has led us here. Time is running out on the option to reverse course. Courageous people in many states have already cast their votes for liberty in large numbers, but they have not yet given Ron Paul a victory.

You can change that when you hold the Texas Republican Primary. You will have an opportunity to strike a blow for freedom. Texas commands 155 delegates. A Ron Paul win in Texas can prevent another big government elitist from clinching the Republican nomination. Most importantly, it sends a message that a large and prominent state has rejected the unnatural form of government that we have adopted. It says to the federal government what our forefathers once famously said to the British, “This far shall you go and no farther.”

It is the responsibility of every individual to defend his or her own liberty. It is the responsibility of every state government to defend the limits on federal power. Texas cannot do it for the other states, but she can lead by example. The stand against tyranny must begin somewhere. If not in Texas, where else? If even Texas does not resist, who will?

There is a yearning for freedom within every American heart. Ron Paul has reawakened it in millions. The forces of tyranny recognize this and are uniformly aligned against him. They despise freedom and independence. They thrive on dependence and control. One side is going to win. Freedom can only prevail with Texas leading the way. Do not let us down. Give Ron Paul a victory in the Texas Republican primary.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

Why Must We Declare War?

Constitution_of_the_United_States,_page_1In May of 2003, the United States invaded Iraq without a formal declaration of war. While there has been spirited debate about the justification for the war, there has been relatively little discussion about the lack of a formal declaration of war by Congress. When it has been brought up by libertarians and strict constitutionalists, the general argument against concern over this “formality” has been to point out H.J. Res. 114 (October 16, 2002), wherein Congress authorized the use of military force. The substance of the argument boils down to, “Congress authorized the president to use military force, so what is the difference between that and a declaration of war?

As we will see, there is a fundamental difference between a declaration of war and an authorization to use force. In fact, it is a distinction of enormous importance, for the former is the rightful defense of liberty by a free people, and the latter the unjustified initiation of aggression by an autocratic state. The implications reach to the very heart of our republic, calling into question our morality, our freedom, and our national sovereignty.

To understand this requires an understanding of what the founding fathers meant when they granted war powers to Congress. The founders based their ideas on government firmly upon the Enlightenment philosophers, who gave us our traditions of liberty. While war is popularly thought of as the active use of military force – the battles, skirmishes, airstrikes, invasions, etc. – these, properly understood, are not war. Rather, there is a state of war, separate from the actual fighting, that was clearly defined by the Enlightenment philosophers. This “state of war” must exist before military force is justified.

John Locke devotes an entire chapter to The State of War in his Second Treatise on Civil Government. In it, he writes,

“Men living together according to reason, without a common superior on earth, with authority to judge between them, is properly the state of nature. But force, or a declared design of force, upon the person of another, where there is no common superior on earth to appeal to for relief, is the state of war: and it is the want of such an appeal gives a man the right of war even against an aggressor, tho’ he be in society and a fellow subject.”[1]

So, according to Locke, the state of war can arise by either an aggressor using force, or declaring the intention to use force. In either case, the relationship between the two parties has changed from a state of nature, or a state of civil society (depending upon whether or not they live under a civil government), to a state of war. Thus, the state of war begins not with the first pitched battle or airstrike, but can begin merely by the aggressor declaring his intent to initiate force. War is a state, or a relationship, that exists totally apart from the physical act of fighting. Fighting or military action is actually a result of, or a response to, the state of war. The use of force is only justified in defense, when a state of war exists. He also writes,

“This makes it lawful for a man to kill a thief, who has not in the least hurt him, nor declared any design upon his life, any farther than, by the use of force, so to get him in his power, as to take away his money, or what he pleases, from him; because using force, where he has no right, to get me into his power, let his pretence be what it will, I have no reason to suppose, that he, who would take away my liberty, would not, when he had me in his power, take away everything else. And therefore it is lawful for me to treat him as one who has put himself into a state of war with me, i.e. kill him if I can; for to that hazard does he justly expose himself, whoever introduces a state of war, and is aggressor in it.”[2]

While Locke is arguably the most direct philosophical influence on the founding fathers, other Enlightenment writers also view the state of war as a condition, or a relationship separate from any tangible use of force. Thomas Hobbes writes,

“For war consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting, but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of time is to be considered in the nature of war, as it is in the nature of weather. For as the nature of foul weather lieth not in a shower or two of rain, but in an inclination thereto of many days together: so the nature of war consisteth not in actual fighting, but in the known disposition thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All other time is peace.”[3]

While making an argument concerning conquests, Rousseau also recognizes that the state of war is a condition or relationship between two parties that exists outside of the actual fighting,

“First: because, in the first case, the right of conquest, being no right in itself, could not serve as a foundation on which to build any other; the victor and the vanquished people still remained with respect to each other in the state of war, unless the vanquished, restored to the full possession of their liberty, voluntarily made choice of the victor for their chief.”[4]

Interestingly, Rousseau argues here that the state of war can continue after the fighting has ceased, as in his example of a conquered people still under the power of their conqueror.

Clearly, the Enlightenment philosophers recognized that the state of war was a condition or a relationship between two parties, separate and distinct from the martial actions that the parties take as a result. The state of war begins with the use of force or the declared intention to use force by an aggressor, and gives the other party the right to use lethal force to defend itself. Thus, in the tradition of liberty, the use of force is justified in defense when a man or a nation recognizes that an aggressor has put itself in a state of war with that man or nation.[5] The state of war can also persist after the fighting ceases if the conditions which created it still exist.

This was the context in which the founding fathers gave power to Congress to declare war. It was not the power to initiate a war, which is never justified, but the power to officially recognize that a state of war already exists, and that force is therefore justified. This interpretation is supported by every request by a United States President for Congress to declare war, and every resolution of Congress to do so. James Madison was the first U.S. President to request that Congress declare war – against Great Britain in 1812. In his request, he said,

“We behold, in fine, on the side of Great Britain a state of war against the United States, and on the side of the United States a state of peace toward Great Britain.”[6]

When Congress declared war upon Great Britain in 1812, the resolution reads,

“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That war be and the same is hereby declared to exist between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the dependencies thereof, and the United States of America and their territories; and that the President of the United States is hereby authorized to use the whole land and naval force of the United States to carry the same into effect, and to issue private armed vessels of the United States commissions or letters of marque and general reprisal, in such form as he shall think proper, and under the seal of the United States, against the vessels, goods, and effects of the government of the said United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the subjects thereof.”[7]

Here we find a clear distinction between the state of war, which Madison argues already exists, and the commencement of the use of military force. Similarly, when James Polk asked Congress to declare war on Mexico in 1846, he said,

“But now, after reiterated menaces, Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon the American soil. She has proclaimed that hostilities have commenced, and that the two nations are now at war.
As war exists, and, notwithstanding all our efforts to avoid it, exists by the act of Mexico herself, we are called upon by every consideration of duty and patriotism to vindicate with decision the honor, the rights, and the interests of our country. . . .
In further vindication of our rights and defense of our territory, I invoke the prompt action of Congress to recognize the existence of the war, and to place at the disposition of the Executive the means of prosecuting the war with vigor, and thus hastening the restoration of peace.”[8]

The official declaration reads,

“Whereas, by the act of the Republic of Mexico, a state of war exists between that Government and the United States: Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of American in Congress assembled, That for the purpose of enabling the government of the United States to prosecute said war to a speedy and successful termination…”[9]

Both presidential requests and subsequent official declarations of war by Congress support that a state of war existed before the United States commenced planned military operations. In each case, the president makes his case for why the enemy nation has been the aggressor, and why he believes a state of war already exists, and requests that Congress formally declare it. In requesting a declaration of war with Spain, President McKinley states,

“I now recommend the adoption of a joint resolution declaring that a state of war exists between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain, that the definition of the international status of the United States as a belligerent power may be made known and the assertion of all its rights in the conduct of a public war may be assured.”[10]

Congress’ official declaration not only recognizes that the war already exists, but actually specifies the date on which the state of war commenced,

“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, First. That war be, and the same is hereby declared to exist, and that war has existed since the twenty-first day of April, anno Domini eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, including said day, between the United States of American and the Kingdom of Spain.”[11]

Here, not only does Congress recognize that a state of war already exists, before the onset of planned military operations, but actually indicates the exact day on which the state of war began, taking the time to specify “including said day,” so that no mistake can be made about when the two nations entered a state of war.

President Wilson, in requesting a declaration of war with Germany in 1917, stated,

“…I advise that the Congress declare the recent course of the Imperial German government to be in fact nothing less than war against the government and people of the United States; that it formally accept the status of belligerent which has thus been thrust upon it; and that it take immediate steps, not only to put the country in a more thorough state of defense but also to exert all its power and employ all its resources to bring the government of the German Empire to terms and end the war.”[12]

The official declaration reads,

“Whereas the Imperial German Government has committed repeated acts of war against the Government and the people of the United States of America: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and the Imperial German Government which has been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and that the President be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces…”[13]

Here, Congress emphasizes that not only does the state of war exist, but that it has been “thrust upon” the United States by the acts of war committed by Germany. Thus, the official declaration not only recognizes the existence of the war but takes pains to officially identify Germany as the aggressor.

Finally, in President Roosevelt’s request for a declaration of war on Japan, he says,

“I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.”[14]

In response, Congress resolves,

“Whereas the Imperial Government of Japan has committed unprovoked acts of war against the Government and the people of the United States of America: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and the Imperial Government of Japan which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial Government of Japan; and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.”[15]

After the United States declared war on Japan, Germany declared war on the United States, and the United States subsequently declared war on Germany, consistent with Locke’s premise that a state of war exists once an aggressor declares his intent to initiate force.

I have devoted the space to include each of these passages to demonstrate the consistency with which past requests and declarations of war have demonstrated the principle that a state of war must exist before planned military action is justified.

In the interest of brevity I have included in the passages from the presidential requests only the language where they specifically ask for Congress to declare war. It is equally important to note that in each case where a president requested a declaration of war, he preceded his request with a statement of the overt acts or the formal declarations of the aggressor nation that supported his belief that a state of war existed. This can be verified by simply going back and reviewing the entire text of each request for a declaration.

So, what conclusions can be drawn from this evidence, and what relevance does this have to the invasion of Iraq and other military operations that the United States has undertaken without a declaration of war?

First, there is the moral question. Was the invasion of Iraq justified? In the five wars that the United States fought under a formal declaration of war, the justification rested upon a president “making a case” that a state of war already existed between the United States and the nation in question. The president presented evidence, in the form of a list of overt acts or a declaration by the aggressor nation, supporting his claim that a state of war existed. Congress then deliberated on the evidence, and cast a vote that supported a formal declaration that, in fact, the United States was already at war. Certainly, there have been arguments made in the cases of each of the five declared wars that either the state of war did not truly exist or that it was instigated by the United States. However, the fact remains that both the executive and legislative branches followed a constitutional process that was far more than a formality or vestige left over from earlier, courtlier ages.

However, in the case of the war with Iraq, as in the Korean and Viet Nam wars, that process did not occur. Specifically in the case of Iraq, the dialogue was shifted away from whether or not a state of war existed to a debate about whether or not Iraq posed a threat to the security of the United States. That debate still rages today. However, in the context of the previous declared wars and the meaning behind the declarative powers granted to Congress, this debate is irrelevant. No interpretation of the Enlightenment philosophy or of the U.S. Constitution justifies military action merely on the basis of another nation representing a threat. As they did in the Korean and Viet Nam wars, the United States used military force when no state of war existed, thereby becoming, by definition, the aggressor.

Why is a declaration of war a fundamentally crucial issue? Obviously, President Bush would not have been able to request a declaration of war with Iraq. There were no overt acts of aggression by Iraq against the United States for him to cite as his evidence of a state of war. Neither was there a declaration by Iraq of their intention to use force against the United States. Quite the contrary, Saddam Hussein repeatedly denied his country’s possession of weapons of mass destruction and even invited President Bush to a conference in an attempt to avoid military conflict (President Bush declined). Hussein all but declared a state of “non-war” with the United States, so there was no case to be made for a state of war based upon a declaration of intent by an aggressor. Had the United States government held itself to the standard set by the Constitution and close to two hundred years of precedent, no war with Iraq could have occurred. Equally valid arguments can be made for the Korean War, the Viet Nam war, Grenada, Bosnia, Somalia, etc.

The moral case is even more damning when considering the “insurgency” which is still raging in Iraq, especially in the context of the Rousseau passage above. According to Rousseau, a state of war exists even after the cessation of fighting until “the vanquished, restored to the full possession of their liberty, voluntarily made choice of the victor for their chief.” Philosophically, the Iraqi insurgents have every right to go on killing Americans, their conqueror, until they are both restored to full possession of their liberty and have voluntarily chosen the United States, or the government that the United States installs, as their rightful government. Thus, the United States finds itself entangled in a war in which it is the aggressor and which can only end at the discretion of the people of Iraq, including the “insurgents.” We have seen similar results in two previous, undeclared wars. In Viet Nam, we left in disgrace. In Korea, we are still there, almost sixty years later. Perhaps there is a correlation between moral justification and success.

Second, there is a lingering question regarding sovereignty related to undeclared wars. Since the establishment of the United Nations, the United States has not declared war, yet has been almost continuously involved in military operations, almost exclusively under the auspices of U.N. resolutions. Another passage in Locke may speak directly to this.

“To avoid this state of war (wherein there is no appeal but to heaven, and wherein every the least difference is apt to end, where there is no authority to decide between the contenders) is one great reason of men’s putting themselves into society, and quitting the state of nature: for where there is an authority, a power on earth, from which relief can be had by appeal, there the continuance of the state of war is excluded, and the controversy is decided by that power.”[16]

The moral argument notwithstanding, there is the further question of whether the United States still has the right to declare war. By recognizing the United Nations as a world governing power, is it not true that, as Locke puts it, there is now always “an authority, a power on earth, from which relief can be had by appeal?” If the United Nations has any authority whatsoever, then by its own traditions of liberty, the United States has surrendered its right to declare war, even when it determines that a state of war does indeed exist. Certainly, this is a consideration that is beyond the imagination of most of its citizenry, but the evidence seems to indicate that it is nevertheless true. The implications of this are indeed foreboding when considering a United States of the future, in a world where it is no longer the undisputed military power that it is now, perhaps as a result of an economic decline that may be in its first stages already.

Finally, there is the question of an undeclared war’s implications for the liberty of the people. Certainly, the founders granted the federal government war powers out of recognized necessity. They lived, as we do, in a world where an aggressor nation could threaten the security of even a free, non-aggressive state. However, they granted those powers for the specific purpose of defense against aggression, including the power to declare war as a means to determine if a state of war existed. The declaration of war process provided a litmus test of whether or not military action was justified. Even in a volunteer army, an undeclared war exploits the solemn trust placed in civilian leaders by the brave soldiers that defend that nation. However, the United States has twice, in Korea and Viet Nam, compelled civilians to join the army and fight. Moreover, it is not just the soldiers that war places at risk. Indeed, civilian casualties in Iraq far outweigh those of soldiers on either side. In decades past, the United States has been insulated from civilian casualties because of its remoteness from the countries in which it has waged war. However, the 21st century has already shown us that remoteness no longer provides that insulation. Given the direct risk to U.S. citizens that war involves, does the United States government have the right to wage an undeclared war? Are a people really free when they can be put at risk and into debt by their government in the absence of a true state of war?

Tom Mullen

[1] John Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government (1690), Chapter III.19 http://www.constitution.org/jl/2ndtr03.htm
[2] John Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government (1690), Chapter III.18 http://www.constitution.org/jl/2ndtr03.htm
[3] Thomas Hobbes, The Leviathan, Chapter XIII http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/hobbes/leviathan-c.html#CHAPTERXV
[4] WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF INEQUALITY AMONG MEN, AND IS IT AUTHORISED BY NATURAL LAW? Part II http://www.constitution.org/jjr/ineq_04.htm
[5] That the definition of the state of war applies not only to individuals, but to states as well is made clear by Locke in later chapters.
[6] http://www.sagehistory.net/jeffersonjackson/documents/MadisonWarMessage.htm
[7] Twelfth Congress Sess. 1, Ch. 102 http://www.lawandfreedom.com/site/historical/GBritain1812.pdf
[8] http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/resources/archives/two/mexdec.htm
[9] Twenty-Ninth Congress Sess. I Ch. 16 http://www.lawandfreedom.com/site/historical/Mexico1846.pdf
[10] http://www.spanamwar.com/McKinleywardec.htm
[11] Fifty-fifth Congress Sess. II. Ch. 189 http://www.lawandfreedom.com/site/historical/Spain1898.pdf
[12] http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/4943/
[13] Sixty-Fifth Congress Ch. 1 http://www.lawandfreedom.com/site/historical/Germany1917.pdf
[14] http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/fdrpearlharbor.htm
[15] Seventy-seventh Congress Sess. 1 Ch. 561 http://www.lawandfreedom.com/site/historical/Japan1941.pdf
[16] John Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government (1690), Chapter III.18 http://www.constitution.org/jl/2ndtr03.htm

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.