Tag Archives: representation

It’s Only War When Real People Get Killed

We are at war with Libya. We are using our Air Force to drop bombs on Libyan soil. We are using unmanned drones to drop bombs on Libyan soil. We areĀ  launching Tomahawk missiles at Libyan soil. Libyan civilians are being killed, in the thousands, by our bombs, on Libyan soil. If we came close enough that Libyan forces could do us harm, they would. We are at war with Libya.

Unfortunately, President Obama disagrees with me (this does not happen very often). He contends that our engagements in Libya are not war, they’re… they’re… well they’re not war. He says since U.S. forces aren’t in jeopardy, it doesn’t count (Unilateral war isn’t war? Good one). That pretty much sums up what he’s told us so far.

Why doesn’t Obama want to call our engagements in Libya war? Because if these are acts of war, he would be required by both the Constitution and the War Powers Act of 1973 to seek congressional approval to continue. He doesn’t think he would get that approval, so he’s avoiding seeking it.

Now there is something to be said for that. I think we can all agree that Libya was just a few steps away from full-on genocide when coalition forces first intervened. On the other hand, NATO forces responded and are in fact still overseeing operations in Libya. Just because we can get involved, doesn’t mean we should. We are in the midst of an economic stall, one that is only worsened by political divisiveness and stalemates.

Also, given the massive sums of money that we’ve spent on wars over the last ten years alone, and the number of innocent civilians we’ve slaughtered in the process (whoever calls them “surgical airstrikes” can operate on someone else), it doesn’t seem so unreasonable that the American people have a say in where we get involved. Congress, as representatives of the people, needs to have the opportunity to speak on their behalf. My guess is that at this point in time, given the state of the economy, their answer to the question of whether we should be involved might be a resounding “HELL NO!” Then again, given the fact that as a NATO ally we are at least partially obligated to offer assistance, they might vote to have our military act in a strictly support role.

But I speculate. The point is this- the reason the Constitution and the War Powers Act require the approval of the legislative branch is to keep the decision of whether our country starts or engages in armed conflicts with other countries in the hands of many, as opposed to the hands of just one. These provisions are what solidify our country as a democracy, rather than some sort of military dictatorship. When I hear that Obama is ordering airstrikes in Libya without congressional approval because he was somehow able to finagle out of the definition of “war”, it feels extremely undemocratic to me, not to mention that it smacks of total bullshit.

I, like Obama, do believe that the U.S. can be a force for good in the world. However, I think if we are going to exercise our power internationally then it needs to be in a carefully regulated and well-thought out manner, preferably a democratic one. Simply manufacturing and taking advantage of a loophole is not well- thought out. In this instance, it opens the door to attack anyone on a whim, so long as we’re careful not to come into firing distance of those we want to attack. By that reasoning, we could send a stealth bomber to drop another nuke on Hiroshima, and it wouldn’t be a problem, because that is not an act of war. Yeah, that makes sense. Wait. No.

Painfully. Slow. Progress.

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One Nation, Under God, the Christian One

We here in the United States are a divided bunch, and in most regards that divisiveness is clear after only a brief glance at the composition of our Congress. The reason the term “most” is important here is that there are certain issues that are perceived to be too controversial to be on the wrong side of. One of them is God.

We are a nation composed of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and many other religions. We also have a substantial population of people who are either unaffiliated or are flat-out nonbelievers. The fact that we continue to legislatively support terms like “under God” and “in God we trust” makes a mockery of our democracy and the First Amendment to our constitution.

As you are surely aware, the First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”, and that clause, known as the Establishment Clause, has been roundly interpreted by not only our Supreme Court but a whole slew of lawmakers to imply a separation of Church and State. Jefferson described it as a wall of separation between Church and State.

The entire idea behind the clause is that one religion should not be given preference over another, that religion in general should not be given preference over non-religion, and that non-religion should not be given preference over religion in general. The fact that our politicians and particularly our presidents are perceived to be somehow unelectable if they even fail to announce their devotion to Christianity represents a tyranny of the majority, and the result is the shameless violation of our Constitution.

As a secular humanist, I am disgusted that as a citizen of this great nation I have no choice but to be associated with a religion that I perceive to be morally bankrupt in many respects. It is not the perspectives of the majority for which the Bill of Rights was established, but for those of the minority. In this instance, I am in that minority, and I implore you all to consider that one day I may not be, and that it is in your interest to consider my words carefully.

Painfully. Slow. Progress.