While Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution grants only Congress the right to declare war, the United States has won and lost (or fought to a draw if it makes you feel better) many wars since Congress last declared war on Dec. 8, 1941. The Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, the war in Afghanistan, Libya, and now Syrian attacks have all taken place without Congress declaring war.
The War Powers Resolution of 1973 was a response to Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon’s advancement of the Vietnam War and was supposed to reinforce Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution over Article II, Section 2, which makes the president commander-in-chief of the armed forces. It clearly hasn’t, as President Donald Trump proved the night of April 6 when he launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on a Syrian air base after it was determined the Syrian government attacked a rebel ammunition cache holding chemical weapons that killed over 100 people -- none of which were American civilians or soldiers.
When Pearl Harbor was bombed on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, war was declared by Congress the very next day. When the Twin Towers came down on 9/11, the war effectively began the very next day, but without a declaration of war from Congress. Those were attacks on US soil, though. This, however, was not in response to an attack on America, which has members of both major political parties throwing a fit, which is uncharacteristic. Most often the party not inhabiting the White House makes a fuss about the president’s overreach. Both Elizabeth Warren and Rand Paul think Trump’s military action in Syria violates the Constitution.
The War Powers Resolution only requires the commander-in-chief to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing a military attack, and Trump did indeed notify more than two dozen members of Congress of his plan to attack Syria the night of April 6. He did not seek their authorization to do so because it wasn’t required of him thanks to the leeway offered by previous presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, all of whom launched attacks without Congress. Hell, George Bush, Sr. won the Gulf War in less than 100 hours. How can Congress expect to take back its Constitutional right to declare war if they allow presidents to bomb for 90 days when it took less than five days to win a war in 1991?
The most interesting thing about the War Powers Resolution is that it’s likely unconstitutional, which would make it pretty difficult to replace it. John McCain and Tim Kaine attempted to do so in 2014. They proposed the president should consult Congress before launching a military operation that is expected to last more than a week. It never happened, and it wouldn’t have any teeth today anyways. Bush, Bush, Jr. and Obama have knocked them all out. Drones helped a bit, too.
The War Powers Resolution is useless when one person can blow up the entire world in a matter of minutes without deploying a single soldier. War has become a lot like a catch in the NFL. We don’t really know how to define it, but we know it when we see it. And Americans have gotten used to waging war without declaring war. The United States is in a perpetual war against terrorism, and Americans keep waking up everyday, going to work and mostly ignoring what’s happening on the other side of the world. It’s no different than if war isn’t being waged. Americans everyday can safely assume their country is bombing somebody, and ignorantly assume those people had it coming.
I’m a big believer in the order of things. That is, the order in which information is presented matters, and that’s how I perceive the US Constitution. Article I holds more weight than Article II, and Amendment I of the Bill of Rights is listed before the Second Amendment for a reason. I mean, the whole reason white folks even stumbled upon this country was in search of religious freedom. And I’m not even religious, but I value the right to a free press and free speech over the right to own a gun. In this case, I think Congress’s right to declare war holds more weight than a president’s right to command the armed forces, and I think the Constitution was written in that order for that reason. While a president can’t declare war, he can control military operations once war is declared. I'm sure the drafters of the Constitution didn't think war would be waged prior to a declaration of war, or that bombs would be built that can blow up countries.
I also understand the importance of the president being able to command the armed forces in order to avoid an attack on Americans, and in a nuclear age when one bomb can wipe out an entire country, stopping those attacks is more important than retaliating. That is not the case here. Bush, Jr. didn’t have a very good reason to bomb Iraq, but he really didn’t need one. Neither does Trump with regard to Syria. Allowing Congress to decide whether to declare war might have saved the United States from entering either conflict.
I like the idea of checks and balances, but what Congress really wants is to reign in the powers of the president they’ve already given away. And if Congress really wanted that, they should have passed unconstitutional legislation that had some teeth the first time around, because it won’t happen again. That’s why I think the War Powers Resolution should be repealed and Constitutional order given precedence.
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Editor’s Note: This is a series of stories investigating products made in America by Americans for Americans.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he wants to bring back production jobs that have fled America’s borders so corporations can save money using cheaper labor overseas. Sure it would be nice to have a few more production jobs available to Americans, but frankly, everything Americans need is made right here in the USA. It’s what Americans want that’s made elsewhere.
Think about what you need. You need food, water and shelter. That’s it. You don’t need a smartphone or a computer or television, but you want them. You want the things produced overseas by children working for peanuts, like Nikes and iPhones, but you wouldn’t pay the price it would require for those products to be made in America. Imagine a pair of shoes costing as much as an iPhone, or an iPhone costing as much as a used car. It’s just not realistic. (The new iPhone retails for $250 less than what I paid for my 2004 Ford Taurus, upon which I’ve put more than 20,000 miles.)
There are plenty of things still made in America, though, and just like your local economy, buying American assures that your money stays in America. For instance, visiting a local brewery and having your growler filled is not only more environmentally friendly than buying a six-pack of bottles or a 12-pack of cans. It’s more economically friendly because that money goes to the brewer who does business in your state and not Missouri if you’re into Budweiser, Colorado if you’re into Coors, and South Africa if you’re into Miller. Americans can take the same local approach to purchasing everything they need by following this American-made guide.
Let’s start with food since we can’t live without it. While there are fewer Americans working in agriculture than ever before, the USA is producing more food than ever before. According to Netstate.com, California produces almost all of the country's almonds, apricots, dates, figs, kiwi fruit, nectarines, olives, pistachios, prunes, and walnuts. It leads in the production of avocados, grapes, lemons, melons, peaches, plums, and strawberries. Only Florida produces more oranges. The most important vegetables grown in the state are lettuce and tomatoes, and again, California leads the country in production of each. Broccoli and carrots rank second followed by asparagus, cauliflower, celery, garlic, mushrooms, onions, and peppers. Only Texas grows more cotton than California, which you’d find in just about everything you wear, but we’ll get to shelter and clothing later.
So there’s plenty of fruits and vegetables grown right here in the USA. Hell, you can see the fields of wheat in Montana, corn in Minnesota, and dairy cows in Wisconsin. And if you want meat, America’s got the best beef in the world. There’s no shortage of chickens, pigs, or fish either. The problem is how Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) has been mostly gutted by Congress. While venison was added to the list of products requiring COOL in January 2017, beef and pork were both removed in February 2016. COOL requirements for muscle cut and ground chicken, lamb, and goat, wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and ginseng remain in effect.
The easiest way to avoid buying un-American food is to grow it yourself, of course. Raising a cow, pig or chicken might not be feasible for some, and most people living in metropolitan areas don’t have a yard yet alone a garden. There is a lot of indoor farming you can do with an LED bulb, though.
Another work-around is frequenting local, farmers’ markets. Most city websites have a schedule of farmers’ markets. If you don’t have a computer or smartphone visit your public library, buy a newspaper or listen to local radio.
Now that you know how to find food made right here in the USA, stay tuned to discover how you can build your entire home and clothe your entire body with American-made products.
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