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March 22, 2003

What War?

by Thomas R. Eddlem

The first thing you need to know is that we are not at war. Had we been truly at war, Congress – the only body empowered under the U.S. Constitution to bring us into a war – would have declared it. But they have not. Congress long ago stopped following the Constitution they formally pledge to "support and defend" every two years.

The president does not have the authority to bring us into war. Even that great proponent of executive power, Alexander Hamilton wrote in 1793:

"It is the province and duty of the executive [President] to preserve to the nation the blessings of peace. The legislature alone can interrupt those blessings, by placing the nation in a state of war."

You know things are far out of whack when the popular perception is to give the president more power than Alexander Hamilton would have liked.

Mr. Bush has certainly usurped enough power to start his war (it’s not America’s war). A congressional declaration of war would have made this war an American war, carried it out in all our names and made non-interventionist opinions on Iraq superfluous. But as I have stated, I remain free to state my opinion because Congress hasn’t done this.

And do I have an opinion. We shouldn’t be there.

I know some people out there will be accusing me of being a traitor for not "supporting the troops." For them, I have a ready reply:

Who is really supporting the troops, the ones who want to keep their loved ones home and safe, or the ones who want to send them off to die in a war that has nothing to do with American national security?

Who is really keeping faith with our military? The ones who would only send them into harm’s way when American lives and territory are at risk? Or the ones who would trade the lives of our sons and friends in order to transform our national defense into a ham-hocked mercenary version of the French Foreign Legion?

Anyone who answers the latter to these questions condemns himself in my eyes. He has sold his brothers’ and countrymen’s lives on the cheap. I am not willing to do so. I am not so generous with the lives of other people’s sons. I think too highly of our soldiers.

So let the chicken hawks who want to get our boys killed for nothing say to me that I am not supporting the troops.

Let those who applaud a blatantly unconstitutional war, thereby spitting on the Constitution, call me un-American.

Do they really imagine their words will have bite? I know my words of truth have stung many of them.

We have become the aggressors. Unlike Afghanistan (which financed and provided safe harbor to the murderers of more than 3,000 Americans), Iraq has done nothing against United States citizens or territory. Even Bush administration officials will concede Hussein had no connections to the 9-11 bombing, despite a lot of vague insinuations on other terrorist "threats." But "threat" is the way the Bush administration admission says that someone "hasn’t done anything to us."

Bush’s war has already proven that Hussein’s military is a fifth rate power, a power that doesn’t occupy a millimeter of foreign soil, doesn’t even control its own territory and is not a plausible threat to any of his neighbors. Hussein’s military remains a mere shell of the fourth rate power that lost a military clash to Iran in the 1980s.

Obviously, I’m not afraid of our troops conquering in Iraq. They’ll do that in short order. I am, however, worried about how our soldiers will become prime terrorist targets after the military victory, since I expect they will be transformed into social welfare agents distributing free government surplus cheese and administering a whole array of giveaway programs to an ungrateful occupied nation. Our "benevolent" occupation of Baghdad will be even less popular than the benevolent British occupation of Boston in 1768.

Not one American life is worth free cheese.

Support the troops! Bring them home!

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Thomas R. Eddlem's Bio

Thomas R. Eddlem is a native of the Boston area of Massachusetts and a graduate of Stonehill College. He is a radio talk show host in southeastern Massachusetts and a frequent contributor to The New American magazine.

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