Placing the ultimate decision-making authority into the hands of the branch most intimately connected to the American people had a purpose. Because declaring war generally meant mobilizing the entire nation into a volatile environment, drafting the young into the armed services, and raising taxes to pay for the war effort, the Constitution thrust the decision upon the American people—through their elected representatives in Washington—to vote on whether it was in the U.S. national security interest to do so.
To permit any administration to wage preventive war “anywhere, anytime … against an ideology wherever they perceive it to be” is “very, very dangerous,” Paul continued, because it leads to a costly, “rudderless, “whack-a-mole foreign policy” in which Washington wins lots of little battles at the too-high strategic price of endless military commitments that ultimately offer more risk than defense. “We're a target everywhere we go,” Paul said, “and, yes, we can defeat anyone, but I don't think, in the end, it ends the war.” The last 16 years have proven this point. The White House may not be too concerned about that, but war-weary Americans most certainly are.
Unilateral trade restrictions have significant downsides, especially for consumers of the target products. For example, global oversupply of steel and aluminum reduces input costs for aircraft, automobiles, machinery, buildings, infrastructure, and more. All interests must be considered to chart the best path forward, not just those facing increased competition.
The administration wants a far better accord with far better terms for the United States, and Trump is working with Senate Republicans to convert his dreams of a perfect agreement into reality. According to the Associated Press, Corker and Cotton are preparing to introduce a bill that would not only unilaterally change the JCPOA without the consent or consultation of the other parties, but also change the deal in such a way that it would add new restrictions on Iranian behavior in areas that were never part of the original deal in the first place. The bill would automatically reinstate U.S. sanctions on Tehran if the country continues to test, manufacture or deploy intercontinental ballistic missiles—a valid concern to the West but a program Iranian officials have made clear is outside the nuclear file.
What our presence in Niger is not doing, as Sen. Graham himself admits, is defending the United States against any meaningful threat.However much they may hate us, the would-be terrorists active there are not capable of attacking America, defended as we are by the world’s most powerful military,expansive moats, and a stringent screening process for would-be visitors. That means U.S. intervention in Niger is neither defensive, preemptive, or even preventive war. It is an unnecessary use of precious resources .
If American citizens are tired of seeing such ridiculous statements in the news as: “Two armies funded and trained by the United States have faced-off in northern Iraq”, they must demand their elected officials revisit the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) and fully exercise the Article I funding and oversight powers reserved for that body in the Constitution.
We should offer diplomatic services where they are necessary to achieve our objectives, but we should not choose sides in internecine conflicts that will not end or be solved by our military power. We should cease sacrificing the lives and limbs of our service members to prevent warring factions from killing each other, and instead reserve the best military in the world to provide safety for Americans. That would allow us to rebuild our military strength for the possibility of future fights that have a direct impact on our national security.
Political developments spun along in Washington. Paul Ryan succeeded John Boehner as Speaker of the House, and an optimism seemed to rein that soon things would return to normal. I wondered if that would include with an Authorization for the Use of Military Force vote.
Our military and diplomacy must always work in concert with each other. At no point should diplomacy stop. And our military should not be used unless absolutely necessary and as a last resort. Washington should not back us into a no-win situation where the only goal is to save face by escalating tensions with the North—and China—ever-further. Instead, the U.S. needs to think strategically about our desired political end-state on the Korean peninsula. Doing so presents us with diplomatic avenues that are yet to be pursued.
Today, the United States might need a dose of BRAC for its own good. President Trump’s surprising election came on the wings of a grassroots wave that demanded a new and better way of governing in Washington. Forcing politicians to abandon schemes to protect their parochial interests under the guise of constitutionally-mandated functions like national security should be as attractive a sentiment as ‘Draining the Swamp’.
To inform citizens, thought leaders, and policy makers of the importance of a strong, dynamic military—used more judiciously to protect America's narrowly defined national interests—and promote a realistic grand strategy prioritizing restraint, diplomacy, and free trade to ensure American security.