Antiwar activism is slowly increasing in this country and around the world. Little wonder since we’ve been at war for eight years, with more wars threatened and no end in sight. This weekend, a major conference was held in Washington D.C. called “Who Decides About War? National Conference on War Powers, Law and Democracy.”
The agenda featured Jeremy Scahill as the keynote speaker as well as politicians and noted activists. There was backing from a large number of antiwar and progressive organizations such as the Liberty Tree Foundation, the National Lawyers Guild at Georgetown Law School, Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Democrats.com, the Institute for Policy Studies, After Downing Street, CODEPINK-Women for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, the National Coalition for Nonviolent Resistance, Peace Action USA and Progressive Democrats of America. Topics discussed included:
• How can our democracy set in place consistent and durable criteria for considering when or if to use military force, within a broad range of scenarios that might–or might not–challenge national security or threaten world peace?
• Are our political institutions sufficiently robust to maintain and apply “consistent and durable” criteria in the face of the unforeseeable circumstances that typically precede the consideration of using military force?
• What is the proper composition, structure, and role of military forces in a modern democracy? Do the U.S. Armed Forces, as currently organized, best serve democracy? How should we respond to the increased reliance of the United States on Private Military Companies?
• When state National Guard units are called into federal military service, should states have a clear and defined role in evaluating whether that call up is proper and in accordance with the law?
• What is the proper balance of forces between the Guard and rest of the Armed Forces? Does the concept of the all-volunteer army need to be revisited, and if so, what are the options for the future?
• How should the decision about going to war be made, serving national security and honoring the constitutional system of checks and balances?
• Has the War Powers Act served its intended purposes, and how should it be updated or replaced?
• What should be the role of Congress in authorizing the use of military force, within a broad range of scenarios that might–or might not–challenge national security or threaten world peace? If the United States commences the use of military force, is there a role for Congress beyond its initial authorization of force and later appropriations in support of the military action? May an authorization for use of military force be conditional, and if so, should the conditions be enforceable? What mode of enforcement should be available?
• Should the scope of the President’s Article 2 powers as commander-in-chief be more clearly defined, and if so, how can that clarity be achieved, given that every war is unique and the role of the commander-in-chief hard to define in advance?
*Rethinking Empire, force projection, and the more than 1000 U.S. military bases located outside of the United States.
I don’t know exactly how these issues were discussed or the outcome of the conference. I think this is encouraging and covers bases that need to be covered in the scheme of things. What troubles me is the lack of discussion of the real reasons for the foreign policies of the United States, and all major countries for that matter. I’m not sure discussing the laws and war powers of our government is going to do anything to stop a clearly imperialist nation, colluding with its allies and negotiating with it’s adversaries and neutrals to secure resources and maintain economic power. Particularly when those resources are nearing the light at the end of the tunnel. As with the MSM, there is no discussion of the root cause of wars, the Realpolitiks of the world.
I notice that from the neocons as well. Their argument in the MSM is always about the terrorists and the protection of American citizens from their evil ways. The likes of William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer frame their support of these killing and plundering endeavors based on the terrorist threat, the safety of the country. “Obama is being soft on terror”! They know darn well why we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, and have extended it into Pakistan. They know why Africom was created. They know why the DOD created Full Spectrum Dominance. They know what happened in Honduras and why. It’s not about terrorism. There are terrorists if that’s the term you want to use. We do more than our fair share of creating them, nurturing them, paying them and arming them. But invading their countries turns the table and as such they are simply in the way of the official agenda. Establishing a reasonably compliant government in resource rich nations, as well as those in bordering nations, as a means to control those resources, while keeping others, i.e., Russia and China primarily, from doing the same.
Even most progressives seem to fall for that approach to foreign policy. Believing the overall rationale, i.e., terrorism, nuclear bombs, keeping our country safe, etc., and not seeing those are the smokescreens to support the Realpoltik. They fall into a trap and focus on how we can best contain the Taliban and wipe out Al Qaeda and prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon instead of focusing on the rationale for US foreign policy in the first place. Where the Taliban and Al Qaeda and Iran are nuisances in the quest for natural resources and economic power.
There is no discussing 9/11, the event that jumpstarted the whole shebang. Forbotten. Conspiracists are crazy. Even though on the rec list of the Orranged tonight is a diary basically saying there are financial conspiracies. The progressives can buy that conspiracy, but toe the line on those that are deemed out of bounds. It doesn’t matter whether someone is right about something else, if they are a truther, if they dare to question the official story, then nothing else matters. They are not credible. Let the Amish Shunning begin.
“While I am in accord with most of what you say here, I can’t in good conscience support anything that Paul Craig Roberts has to say given his Trutherism and his work for CATO and the Hoover Institution, both much more recent than his support for supply-side economics. He’s like Pat Buchanan: Sometimes Pat’s views and mine (particularly on class issues) intersect, but I have to take into consideration his overall take on the world.”
So says the second most important person on that site. A leader of the progressive movement who restricts his world view within the norms of society. I’ve read alot of Paul Craig Roberts and he is usually right on the money.
There is no true discussions of the role and intent of the government of Israel in all this either. Israel has been so successful in exploiting the Holocaust and the dangers of anti-Semitism that it has created a lockstep of acquiesance across the progressive activist landscape. You can’t truly join that party unless the rules are followed.
That can be seen from the agenda of this conference. I greatly respect Jeremy Scahill and I’m sure, many of those that attended the conference. But winning the battle with the elite will take more than discussions about the law and who has the authority for what. Our government has proven the law doesn’t matter for the agenda that has been set. Authority for war is in the hands of the empire, of which the entire political system is suitably accustomed. Our government is in “no holds barred” territory and arguing about the law goes the way of torture investigations and state secrets. Nowhere. There is no discussion in the conference about the Trilateral Commission or the Council on Foreign Relations, of which the symmetry of members among Democratic and Republican administrations over the last fifty years should be a sign of concern when addressing foreign policy and war.
It’s time to call a spade a spade. The foreign policy of this country is about power, money and resources. Keeping citizens safe from terrorists or nuclear bombs is merely a means to implement the overall agenda. It’s about a delusional and perhaps unstoppable need to remain at the top of the heap while controlling the population. It’s about feeding the corporate and MIC related beast and preventing other countries from securing first place. It’s about time to call them on their bullshit.