Captain Nathan Michael Smith, age 28, is a Military Intelligence Officer, deployed with the U. S. Army, in Kuwait. Last week, he sued President Barack Obama, suggesting that the overall U. S. combat troop deployment against the Islamic State, “…may be justified militarily and morally; but, it is still illegal!”
In 2001, Congress passed the initial War Authorization for the War in Afghanistan, and two years later for Iraq. In 2014, however, that same authorization was used again, to send armed forces against Islamic State, in Iraq and Syria. The original War Powers Resolution, of 1975, required that, when the President sends troops into war, Congress must provide “specific statutory authorization” soon afterward (generally considered to be within 60 days). However, since that initial authorization was established in 2001, Congress has never followed-up.
Last week, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, and General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, confirmed in Congressional testimony, that the U. S. does have 4,000 “advisors” on-the-ground in Iraq, and another 300 in Syria. Also last week, Petty Officer Charles Keating, a Navy SEAL, was killed in the admittedly escalated combat operations, which have drawn Americans to the front lines.
In reality, the responsibility for the lack of the required Constitutional authority should be shared equally by the President and Congress. The responsibility to declare war was specifically assigned to Congress in the Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Line 11). President Obama’s Administration claims that it has constantly been asking Congress to provide specific authorization for the war against ISIL. But to date, neither Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), nor House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), have shown little interest in passing an authorization. Congress certainly cannot disavow all knowledge of the war or of their responsibility to address the issue.
It appears that, while the men and women in our military are doing their duty, the Administration and Congress are shirking theirs. Our armed forces are serving in dangerous situations—incurring both medical and mental wounds, and now even dying. So, this is not the time to consider who said what. Washington Gridlock has to stop! We the American people are also remiss, as well, for letting this disrespect for our troops drag-on so long!
In prior blog posts, I have called for the re-enactment of the Military Daft—without any deferments whatsoever. Currently, only one percent of Americans feel the pain of these wars—meaning that either they or a family member are currently or had previously deployed into a war zone. Now, I am not in favor of war; but, only those that are necessary. But the draft would bring these wars front-and-center, and into every household. Keep in mind that many of the injuries are incurred during repeated deployments.
All-Volunteer Militaries—especially during weak economic times—are generally composed of many poor young men in need of work. Unfortunately, in such wars, the individual members of the Administration or Congress do not feel any pain in sending someone else’s kids into Harm’s Way. But, if they knew that their own children or grandchildren might also be required to serve, I assure you that they would think twice before deploying our troops into any war zone. And, they’d be sure to debate the specific merits in detail, and follow-up in keeping the conflict as short as possible.
Captain Smith’s suit against the President has been brought before the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia. Hopefully, that Court will allow the case to proceed and, in the end, rule in favor of Captain Smith. In fact, his suit should be a class-action suit, joined by all Americans. Let’s face it: the Washington Establishment is derelict in fulfilling its Constitution Duties! They’re AWOL!