War

Joe Biden: Impeach the President If He Goes to War Without Congressional Approval

in Elections and Politics, Foreign Policy, Liberator Online Archives, War by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Joe BidenIn a bold move, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has declared it would be unconstitutional for the president to go to war without consulting Congress.

Further, Biden has pledged to demand the president’s impeachment should he do so.

Said Biden: “I want to make it clear and I made it clear to the president, if he takes this nation to war… without congressional approval — I will make it my business to impeach him.”

The vice president — who has taught constitutional law at the university level — elaborated on his views in this statement: “It is precisely because the consequences of war — intended or otherwise — can be so profound and complicated that our Founding Fathers vested in Congress, not the President, the power to initiate war, except to repel an imminent attack on the United States or its citizens. They reasoned that requiring the President to come to Congress first would slow things down… allow for more careful decision making before sending Americans to fight and die… and ensure broader public support.

“The Founding Fathers were, as in most things, profoundly right. That’s why I want to be very clear: if the President takes us to war… without Congressional approval, I will call for his impeachment.

“I do not say this lightly or to be provocative. I am dead serious. I have chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee. I still teach constitutional law. I’ve consulted with some of our leading constitutional scholars. The Constitution is clear. And so am I.

“I’m saying this now to put the administration on notice and hopefully to deter the President from taking unilateral action in the last year of his administration. If war is warranted with a nation of 70 million people, it warrants coming to Congress and the American people first. ”

The only problem… those remarks were made in 2007 and 2008. When Biden was running for president. Before he was elected vice president of the U.S.

For that matter, then-Senator Barack Obama agreed with him. In 2008 Obama told the Boston Globe: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Funny how being in the White House changes things.

(Hat tip to Andrew Kaczynski, BuzzFeed.com)

Harvard Study: Young Americans Want Far Less Interventionist Foreign Policy

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online Archives, Military, War by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 9 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Young Americans want a far less interventionist foreign policy, and they don’t trust the United Nations or the federal government in general. And they have strong libertarian leanings on other key issues.

Harvard UniversityThat’s according to the latest Harvard Public Opinion Project, a highly-respected national poll of America’s “Millennials”(18- to 29- year-olds) by Harvard’s Institute of Politics that has been conducted biannually since 2000.

The numbers are startlingly anti-interventionist. Fully 74 percent agreed with this statement: “The United States should let other countries and the United Nations take the lead in solving international crises and conflicts.” Only a fourth believed that the United States “should take the lead in solving international crises and conflicts.”

Fully 39 percent disagreed with the statement “it is sometimes necessary to attack potentially hostile countries, rather than waiting until we are attacked to respond.” Only a tiny 16 percent agreed with that statement.

Concerning specific recent foreign policy crises, 62 percent disapproved of the president’s handling of the Syria crisis, and 59 percent disapproved of the government’s policies towards Iran and Ukraine.

The same skepticism applies to international bodies. Fully two-thirds said they trusted the UN only “some of the time” or “never.” Only about a third of respondents said they trusted the United Nations all or most of the time.

This radical rejection of interventionism among the young is accompanied by other libertarian-friendly positions and a strong degree of skepticism towards government in general. Just three percent of Millennials reported trusting the federal government “all of the time,” while 80 percent said that they trusted it either only “some of the time” or “never.” Similarly, eighty-four percent of participants felt that they could trust Congress only “some of the time” or “never.” Just one-third trust the president “most” or “all of the time.”

On the re-legalization of marijuana, 25- to 29- year-olds support re-legalization by a large margin of 50 percent to 28 percent (21 percent unsure); among 18- to- 24- year-olds, 38 percent support, 39 percent oppose (22 percent unsure). Overall, 66 percent support re-legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

On sexual tolerance, 61 percent say that “a friend’s sexual orientation is not important to me.”

Finally, Millennials are moving away from identifying with either of the two older parties, with increasing numbers identifying as Independents (38 percent) rather than Republicans (25 percent) or Democrats (37 percent).

Hey, Media: “Isolationist” Is an Insult and a Lie

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online Archives, Libertarian Stances on Issues, War by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 9 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“When tea party or libertarian Republicans oppose U.S. military intervention or aid in Ukraine, Syria or any other hot spot, they are regularly labeled ‘isolationist’ by mainstream media outlets. The same term is now commonly used to describe the growing number of war-weary Americans who believe the U.S. tries to do too much around the world militarily.”

So writes Jack Hunter, contributing editor at Rare.US, in a commentary entitled “Hey insult, pejorative termmedia, ‘isolationist’ is not an acceptable term.”

Hunter notes that the biggest hawks in America — liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican — immediately label as “isolationist” anyone who even dares suggest that the U.S. shouldn’t get involved in every local squabble around the world.

They’re deliberately using that term as a smear, Hunter points out. Which is wrong, but predictable.

But it’s far worse for the media to use such an inaccurate, pejorative and partisan term, he argues. Yet they’re doing it.

Hunter quotes conservative pundit and National Review editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg — who is definitely NOT a non-interventionist — from a perceptive piece Goldberg wrote last September:

“Some reporters say that they’re using ‘isolationist’ as a descriptive label, not as a pejorative term. This is nonsense. First of all, it simply is a pejorative term. But, if it’s not a pejorative term, how come nobody ever uses it to describe liberals who often want to intervene far less than conservatives do?”

Goldberg further notes that, all in all, libertarians are far less “isolationist” than most Americans:

“Why is isolationism only about military strikes? What about trade? Immigration? If you throw that stuff into the mix, libertarians are far less isolationist than most Americans, and yet libertarians are supposedly the heart of this new isolationism. How strange.”

Goldberg quotes Timothy Carney’s wonderful sarcastic Ambrose Bierce-ish definition: “Isolationist: n. Someone who, on occasion, opposes bombing foreigners.”

Then Goldberg reworks that a bit: “I’d phrase it slightly different. An isolationist is someone who doesn’t want to bomb foreigners when I do.”

So, yeah, isolationist is a smear, and that’s why the biggest Congressional interventionists use it. But the media shouldn’t let them get away with it.

It’s time to stop labeling opposition to 24-7 global warfare as “isolationism.” And it’s highly irresponsible of the media to use that term themselves, or to let hawks toss it around without challenge or comment.

Libertarians should constantly point this out. Advocates President Sharon Harris wrote a Liberty Minute column in 2011 on how to do this persuasively and effectively, and that column can be found in this issue.

Libertarian Party: Stay Out of Ukraine — and Everywhere Else

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online Archives, War by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 5 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

While the Republicans and Democrats argue about where the U.S. military should intervene next, and how many more billions of tax dollars to spend doing so, the Libertarian Party is singing a very different song.

“Libertarians are lining up to run for federal office in 2014 on a platform to cutmilitary spending immediately by at least 60 percent, close a substantial number of overseas military bases, and bring troops home,” says a news release by the Libertarian Party.

Specific Libertarian proposals to downsize the U.S. military, while keeping America far safer than now, include:

  • Immediately withdraw all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and bring them home to their families.
  • Stay out of Syria, Ukraine, and every other foreign conflict.
  • Close unneeded U.S. military bases and outposts in more than 130 countries around the world, and bring our troops home. First on the list are the massive deployments in Germany, Italy, South Korea, and Japan — countries that can, and should, fund their own military defense.
  • Close at least half of the nation’s 4,402 domestic Department of Defense sites.
  • Use 100 percent of operating cost savings to reduce the federal income tax, balance the federal budget, or both.
  • Sell off all foreign and domestic real estate holdings of closed military bases and Department of Defense sites — while requiring that all proceeds be used to pay down existing government debt. Not a penny of this money, stresses the Libertarians, should pay for more government spending.

All of this is consistent with the Libertarian Party’s platform on National Defense, which reads: “We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both avoid entangling alliances and abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world. We oppose any form of compulsory national service.”

Plus, said Geoffrey J. Neale, chair of the Libertarian National Committee, it just plain makes sense.

“Reducing and eliminating military bases in foreign countries will remove a major source of hostility towards the United States, reduce the threat of a terrorist attack, and reduce federal government debt by $300 billion,” Neale said.

“Cutting military spending by $600 billion every year will go a long way toward balancing the federal budget and ending the federal income tax,” he said. “This will give back $5,000 every year to each taxpaying family in the United States; stimulate investment in small businesses; and create millions of sustainable, private-sector jobs. Plenty of jobs for veterans and millions of others now out of work.”

Learn more about America’s fastest-growing political party, the Libertarian Party, at their website.

Word Choice: Blowback — Foreign and Domestic

in Communicating Liberty, Foreign Policy, Liberator Online Archives, National Defense, War by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 4 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Blowback” is a term that originated in the CIA in 1954. It originally referred to the unintended consequences of a covert foreign operation — consequences that are often suffered by the civilians of the nation whose government instigated the covert operation. This “blowback” may take the form of riots, demonstrations, hostage-taking, terrorist attacks, and similar hostile actions. The civilians on the receiving end of the blowback don’t realize that it was their own government’s secret activities that caused the anger and violence being directed against them.

Blowback is a term heard more and more when discussing foreign policy. And its definition is often expanded to include overt as well as covert foreign interventions that have negative consequences.

Ron Paul helped popularize the concept of blowback, as well as the word itself, during his GOP presidential campaign runs. For example, in the 2008 Republican presidential primary debates in South Carolina, he introduced it this way:

“I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about ‘blowback.’ When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages, and that persists. And if we ignore [blowback], we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don’t come here to attack us because we’re rich and we’re free. They come and they attack us because we’re over there. I mean, what would we think… if other foreign countries were doing that to us?”

Scholar Chalmers Johnson also popularized the term in an influential trilogy of books: Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (2000); The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (2005); and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (2006).

Johnson defines the term and tells about the operation that led the CIA to use it:

“’Blowback’ is a CIA term first used in March 1954 in a recently declassified report on the 1953 operation to overthrow the government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran. It is a metaphor for the unintended consequences of the U.S. government’s international activities that have been kept secret from the American people. The CIA’s fears that there might ultimately be some blowback from its egregious interference in the affairs of Iran were well founded. Installing the Shah in power brought twenty-five years of tyranny and repression to the Iranian people and elicited the Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution. The staff of the American embassy in Teheran was held hostage for more than a year. This misguided ‘covert operation’ of the U.S. government helped convince many capable people throughout the Islamic world that the United States was an implacable enemy.”

Blowback is a useful word in describing the unintended, but often terrible,  consequences of foreign intervention.

But it is a very useful term for discussing domestic policy as well.

Just like foreign intervention, domestic government intervention has many unintended negative consequences. As the word “blowback” becomes a familiar, popular, colorful pejorative in foreign policy discussions, it is also beginning to be used to describe the unintended destructive consequences of domestic government activities.

Libertarians — who are very aware of the negative unintended consequences of government domestic policy — can use the word blowback to add power and color to our discussions of domestic issues.

Some examples:

“An increase in the minimum wage would lead to blowback in the form of the loss of hundreds of thousands of desperately needed entry level jobs. This blowback would hit the most vulnerable people in our economy: the low-paid, the unemployed, the under-educated, minorities, and the young.”

“Blowback from the War on Drugs includes crowded prisons and wasted law enforcement resources, overdoses from impure street drugs, the spread of AIDS and Hepatitis B and C from shared needles, drugs peddled to children, loss of fundamental Bill of Rights civil liberties, the enriching of violent criminal gangs, the funding of terrorism, drive-by shootings by warring drug gangs… and more.”

“The blowback from government welfare programs includes the break-up of families, multi-generational poverty, dependence on government, and a weakening of the vital role that voluntarily-funded charities play in our society.”

There are innumerable further possibilities.

Blowback is a powerful, provocative word that quickly and colorfully conveys a vital concept. Many people realize its significance in the foreign policy realm. Their ears will perk up, and they may reach new understanding, when you apply it to domestic policy as well.