The American military has been sent to risk their lives in countries all over the world without the necessary authorization from Congress. It is incumbent upon Congress to take this authority back. They must do so not just on behalf of the balance of powers and representation of the people, but for the millions of lives at stake, both at home and abroad.
Senior national security officials, like Nikki Haley, have a responsibility to provide the president with those unvarnished, undoctored, level-headed, cold-hard facts. Anything less would not only be a breach of the public trust, but an ugly signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. will move the goalposts and renege on diplomacy when the domestic politics change.
If there is a shining light in this episode, it's that more and more members of Congress realize it’s becoming politically unacceptable to avoid a war vote. Paul’s amendment may have been tabled—for now—but the spirit behind that amendment lives on. Our armed forces have the courage to risk their lives—Congress should have the moral and ethical courage to do their job, and do what’s right: vote on this most solemn decision.
Trump’s foreign policy transformation for the worse is substantial and may well have done irreversible damage to U.S. interests already. With North Korea in particular, it is difficult to believe the situation would have escalated so quickly had Trump not abandoned his interest in diplomacy in favor of returning Kim Jong-un’s juvenile taunts tit for tat.
North Korea presents a problem that cannot be resolved with coercion, but the problem must be addressed thoughtfully to be countered effectively, and at an acceptable cost. U.S. policymakers should accelerate planning on a North Korea deterrence and containment strategy, the same strategy that proved to work with far stronger adversaries, like the Soviet Union and China.
The “horror” would set in as thousands were killed or wounded. In some estimates, the North would inflict 20,000 casualties a day in Seoul alone for the first several days. The herculean effort to limit collateral damage witnessed in our Middle Eastern wars will be impossible to repeat. We will operate within the laws of armed conflict, but significant loss of innocent life would be unavoidable due to the locations North Korea chooses for its weapons.
Adding the reforms to modernize these programs—build on what works, wind down what doesn’t—would be more challenging. The difficulty is further increased by committee membership—at least among House Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans—being substantially more conservative than House Republicans as a whole.
President Obama’s administration, and now President Trump’s, provides the Saudis with intelligence and logistical support, and refuels their fighters in the air over Yemen, allowing Saudi warplanes to fly longer sorties and drop more bombs. At America’s base in Djibouti, Saudi operators launch American-made Reaper drones. But why is Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and why is Washington backing the Saudi-led coalition?
North Korea most likely will not denuclearize, as the U.N. Security Council has long demanded. But if denuclearization is still an option, it won't happen until there is a substantive and durable negotiating process between the U.S. and North Korea—a fantasy that is at best far off into the future. In the interim, the least we can do is decrease the chances of hostile rhetoric blowing up into a regional war.
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.