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The Corker-Kaine Bill and Its Cynical Authorization for Endless War
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The Corker-Kaine Bill and Its Cynical Authorization for Endless War

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It is not unusual for men of less than ordinary ability to want access to dictatorial powers to wage war, thinking little about having laws to enact peace. The possibility of the Corker-Kaine Bill to create unending war in collusion with Congress and the current Washington regime has now more than ever become a harsh, abhorrent reality which the American people know little about even as they are mesmerized or appalled by the spectacle of White House's current resident leading them like lemmings to the sea to drown.

American journalist Elizabeth Goitein, Co-Director of the Brennan Center for Justice's Liberty and National Security Program, summarizes what this bill would conceivably do in terms of the United States waging continuous war:

Senators Corker and Kaine want Congress to get back into the game. Unfortunately, however, their bill would do little more than codify Congress’s abdication. It would authorize the use of military force against the groups the United States is currently fighting, in the countries where we are fighting now. But it would not limit the conflict to those groups or countries.

Instead, the President could add new groups that he determined were “associated” with the listed groups. And while the bill would not authorize the President to add nation-states to the list, it would permit an easy runaround: by characterizing strikes on countries where terrorists operate — or like Iran, are designated as state sponsors of terrorism — as sanctioned attacks on terror groups.[1]

As the world already knows, President Donald J. Trump is a man who not only acts on impulse but also threatens any nation-state out of  personal whim or anger; therefore such a bill would only play into his hands if he was allowed to “add new groups” to those already considered a threat to American world domination.  Trump, who sees himself in many ways above the law,  not surprisingly admires adventurous military men like George Patton and Douglas MacArthur who were willing to risk the lives of the men under their command to wage war without any kind of respect for the rules of warfare.

It is well documented how General Dwight D. Eisenhower felt about the insolent and immature behavior of the tank general, Patton, and how he had to relieve him of command… especially since he was aware of how Patton had the naïve urge to want to fight the Soviet forces while World War II was coming to end.

Historians have also written extensively about how Harry S. Truman had to purge General MacArthur for his in subornation during the Korean War, especially since he voiced his willingness to use the atomic bomb against the North Korea's armies and civilians.

I bring up these American generals since these are precisely the kind of mavericks Trump has spoken of before with great admiration, and, in my view, such vocal admiration for similar military men is a signal for the kind of war he may want to wage in the future -- wars without constraint.  

The Corker-Kane Bill would allow the President to not only wage war against other countries and nation-states from a risky dictatorial position, but it would also encourage him to seek out generals from the Pentagon willing to engage in war similar to the kind of warfare that brought grandiose behavior to ancient Roman generals circa the Age of Augustus. Such foolish behavior continued unabated until Rome was exhausted and finally destroyed through the perpetual waging of war.

As the prescient article “The Corker-Kaine Bill Would Codify, not End, the Forever War” pungently predicts, “Of course, Congress doesn’t need to give itself permission to pass a law. At any time in the past decade, for instance, legislators could have outlawed the use of military force against the Islamic State. The point is, they shouldn’t have to. Under the Constitution, war may be declared by Congress alone. The Corker-Kaine bill would flip this constitutional power on its head, assigning the President the role of declaring war against a given enemy in a given place, and leaving Congress only with the power to un-declare it.”[1]

In a word, the Congress would be giving the President of the United States carte-blanche -- blanket permission, a free hand --to engage immediately in an act of war against another country or nation-state without consulting Congress. What should be understood about the United States and its methodology of waging war is that it has always been one of extremes -- that is, ranging from more or less political looseness to a more democratic lawful way of risking the American experiment in democracy against a military adversary.  One historical example of how the leadership in Washington D.C. has had little regard for the views of the American people and their Constitutional representatives is during George Washington's Presidency when he pursed his conquest of Indian Territory after the 1783 Paris Treaty was concluded, ending the American Revolutionary War. The Indian tribes in the Old Northwest, adversaries of the victorious American colonialists against the British forces, however, were not parties to the Paris Treaty and their leaders Little Turtle and Blue Jacket among others refused to recognize American claims to the area northwest of the Ohio River.

This led George Washington's political allies like John Cleves Symmes, delegate to the Continental Congress, and Jonathan Dayton, member of the House of Representatives to petition President Washington and his Secretary of War to wage war against the Miami tribe in the Northeast Territory. The American troops and military met the worst defeat of an American Army at what was known as St. Clair's Defeat, named after the incompetent American general who led an American Army in an undeclared war manipulated by George Washington and his political cronies who wanted to expand the boundaries of the United States.

Although those who read this current essay may wonder why I as a historian and military tactician  would bring up such an obscure battle in which American armed forces invaded and engaged peoples of  a Native-American territory that did not seek war against the United States, it is to  provide  an example of the deeper core of American bourgeois history. Even as far back as the American Revolution, it has always been the fundamental interest of those who rule from Washington D.C. to go beyond legislated boundaries in waging wat-- for the purposes of extracting resources and profiteering from battle --which has not changed since this country’s inception.

However, one should not simple look only upon Trump’s will to dictatorial power to wage war unconditionally without Congressional or any other kind of judicial lawful constraints, because we only have to look back of the war histories of modern presidents:

  • William Jefferson Clinton in his murderous attack in 1999 with the NATO bombings on the former Yugoslavia;
  • George W. Bush and the way members of his slavish political entourage like Colin Powell,  US secretary of State, who in his address to the United Nations Security Council, gave fraudulent and misleading information on so-called weapons of mass destruction in Iraq proper, which became the excuse to invade that Middle Eastern country.

In theory, Barack Obama was elected partly because of his opposition to the Iraq war and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize after he assumed office would eventually approve military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria, all undeclared conflicts of war. 

Vis-à-vis the legality of waging war from the imperial ground of the White House, it can be said Obama played a role in creating the template for dictatorial powers of a President of the United States to wage war. According to a very perceptive analyst for The Atlantic, “In 1973, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution over President Richard Nixon’s veto. It represented the culmination of a national effort to prevent future presidents from repeating Nixon’s unilateral escalations in Vietnam. The Resolution provides that, when a president commits American forces to a new military engagement, he has 60 days to gain the explicit authorization of Congress for the war. If Congress refuses its consent, the Resolution requires the commander in chief to withdraw his forces from the battlefield within the next 30 days.”[1]

What is emerging with the weakening and dismantling of the War Powers Resolution, that's paving the way for the Trump regime to wage war without fear of any constraints.

Obama, as understood by many non-biased present historians, waged war against the Islamic State without conferring with the American people on a long-term basis, and actually assuming war powers that negated the War Powers Resolution Act during his terms as President of the United States. The Atlantic continues,President Obama has been emphatically warning Americans about the dangers of a Trump presidency. But these warnings divert attention from a much darker reality. His Justice Department is in fact pushing the law in a direction that will enable the next president to declare war against any 'terrorist' group or nation without the consent of Congress.”[2]  Eventually there was a lawsuit against the Department of Justice, with the suit contesting that Obama waged an unlawful war. However that suit produced no tangible results.  

In her astute final analysis of the Corker-Kaine Bill, Elizabeth Goitein summarizes her recommendations for eliminating the forever war: “Sens. Corker and Kaine should go back to the drawing board. Any new authorization should specify who the enemy is and where the war is taking place. And because terrorist groups, unlike nation-states, will never formally acknowledge defeat, it should include a real sunset. If the war is still ongoing, Congress can reauthorize it; if, in the meantime, new enemies emerge in new places, Congress can pass another authorization. But endless war against nameless enemies should never be the default” [3]

As for my own view, if the United States continues on its perpetual Doomsday course toward ultimate internal domestic decline, along with the implosion of the gutted procedures and eroded national restrictions enacted for and by the American people to curb the those leaders who lust for power and economic wealth through unbridled war, there will be no peace except permanent war which eventually will lead to internal warfare as well.  The American Government and its people have the choice to impede the legitimizing insidious takeover-legislation such as the Corker-Kaine Bill, or suffer the dire consequences of unending war.

[1] Ibid.

Author: Luis Lázaro Tijerina