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Wars must be authorized in a Constitutional manner

Scott Tibbs, September 09th, 2003

The occupation of Iraq continues, and it is now well-known that more American soldiers have died since the Bush administration announced "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended".

I supported the "war", and continue to believe that establishing a regime change through military force was the right thing to do. However, one aspect of this "war" continues to trouble me.

There was never a war!

Now, of course there was a war in the practical sense. Our military invaded and conquered Iraq, and deposed the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. However, the Constitution places the authority to declare war on Congress. But Congress did not declare war on Iraq. Instead, it authorized the President to use military force.

In fact, none of the "wars" we have fought since the end of World War II have been the result of a declaration of war. Korea and Vietnam were "police actions", as was the first Gulf War to remove Iraq from Kuwait. Other smaller military operations have also taken place without a declaration of war.

This is not a good track record. Even when we invaded Afghanistan in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, we did so without a declaration of war. If there has ever been a case for declaring war in American history, September 11 is that case. The terrorist attacks hit our cities, in the continental United States. This attack was even more brazen than Pearl Harbor. But an invasion of Afghanistan to attack and destroy those responsible was done without the benefit of a Congressional declaration of war.

The "wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan were initiated in a manner inconsistent with the Constitution. It is too late to correct the errors made in October of 2001 and earlier this year. However, Congress must reassert itself and reclaim its Constitutional duty. Future military operations, especially military operations like those in Afghanistan and Iraq, must be done under the banner of a Congressional declaration of war. Our soldiers fought and died to protect the freedoms guarded by the Constitution. We owe it to them to make sure that the "wars" in which they serve are fought on Constitutional grounds.