Saturday, June 05, 2004 - Apache Junction, Arizona, USA
THE POWER OF ONE MAN
On December 11th, 1941, the United States by resolution of the Senate and House of Representatives at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, declared that a state of war existed henceforth between the United States and the governments of Germany and Italy. Why? Those two nations had formally declared war against the government and people of the United States earlier that day. President Roosevelt reminded Congress in his request for a war resolution that, “Delay invites great danger.”
Three days earlier, the United States had declared war against Imperial Japan – a country who had “committed unprovoked acts of war against the Government and peoples of the United States” only one day earlier.
It has been over 63 years since our country entered World War II. The Congress of the United States has NEVER formally declared war against another sovereign nation again.
Since that time, the United States has become the strongest military and economic nation in the world. We have defeated germs with penicillin, amoxicillin and a plethora or other antibiotics and wonder drugs. Jet travel has become an everyday experience. We’ve sent our citizens to the moon and brought them home safely. Our list of accomplishments in the worlds of science, medicine, and technology are beyond the imagination of those who listened to that well founded declaration of war on their radios back in 1941.
Yet a people so strong, so wealthy, so wise still allows one person to send their armed forces into foreign countries at his own behest, answerable to no one, without a declaration of war by Congress. Our President can do this. No checks, no balances, no responsibility to the American people for lives lost or economic disaster to our nation.
One would think that the US, as a world leader, had learned its lesson in the 70s, when we lost an undeclared war prompted by presidential action to a third world country that economically, militarily, and technologically shouldn’t have been able to stand up to the State of California on its own. Sacrificing thousands of our young men to political whims and the exploitation of profit hungry corporations that thrive on war, though, has obviously taught us nothing.
No country as vast and powerful as the United States should have to preemptively strike a much smaller sovereign nation in order to protect itself. Surely, in the 21st century, with all the means at our disposal, we could find ways to limit the aggression of such technologically inferior nations. And most certainly, one person should not have the power to throw the full weight of our armed forces against another nation without the mandate of our representative government.
Yet, on the approaching anniversary of one of the major battles of our last declared war; our nation stands a year deep in another costly confrontation begun on the order of one man. And because this “War President” has involved our country in a continuing conflagration that he himself proclaimed “Accomplished” soon after it began, Americans are still dying and our budget deficit grows worse by the day.
Forget that none of his reasons for overthrowing Iraq have proved valid. Forget that God told him it was his duty to liberate and democratize the Mid East. Forget that wealthy companies whom his administration gave contracts to without bids have profited greatly by this war. Forget the hatred that former allies have for us because we overstepped our bounds. Forget the hatred that this war has instilled in our enemies who now feel increasingly justified in attacking us. Forget even that a despot has been uprooted from his position of power – a murderous and heinous man who tortured his own people.
Remember, though, that 850+ American men and women and thousands of Iraqi citizens including children have died because we as a nation continue to empower one man to make decisions that affect not only our country, but the rest of the world as well. In this modern era when so much can be accomplished by means other than death and destruction, this must not be allowed to continue. The “civil” needs to remain in civilized. We are either a cultured nation or we are not. One man should not be given the power to wage war that we bestow upon our president.
Tomorrow a man will stand up in France on a battleground of the last declared war and try very hard to make comparisons between it and the hostilities we are now involved with in Iraq. The only true comparison is the tragedy and inhumanity of war itself. Beyond that, there is no comparison.
Thomas Jefferson said, “When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.” Indeed. The decision to send American men and women into battle must no longer be left to one person.
©2004 Marcia Ellen "Happy" Beevre