President Barack Obama, has just initiated another war even before the blood dried from his last one in Libya. His recent deployment of 100 U.S. military advisers (soldiers) to aid in central Africa, notably Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic, is amazing. Never mind that we are not yet out of Iraq, are still dodging bullets in Afghanistan, and are unleashing drones to kill designated individuals in Pakistan. Libya and the four central African countries have one thing in common; our involvement in both settings was started by the single decision of one man which is totally and completely unconstitutional.

Referred to as Operation Lightning Thunder, the Special Forces are to train, advise and not engage in combat, unless forced to defend themselves. Congress was informed of the engagement by letter October 14, but reportedly troops were already in Uganda two days prior. The mission is to root-out and destroy a ruthless leader, Joseph Kony, who has led a notorious 24-year campaign of rape and murder as head of Lord’s Resistance Army, who allegedly kidnaped boys to fight in his army and girls to sell as sex slaves.

This is so reminiscent of a similar deployment by President John F. Kennedy beginning the Vietnam War. Inevitably the advisors were forced to defend themselves when fired upon and we took casualties. We then were asked to support our troops with more troops. Some 13 years later, on January 27,1973, after 56,227 lives were lost, we signed the humiliating Vietnam Treaty ending the war. Have we forgotten how this “no win” war began—with just a few advisors?

Despite powerful humanitarian reasons justifying the action, we lack the treasure and ability to be the policeman of the world. Where does it end? Most of the world has dictators and tyrants as leaders. That aside, the President lacks the Constitutional authority to do so.

The making and funding of war were clearly denied the office of president in the U.S. Constitution because he “had the most propensity for war.” Only Congress has the right “to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.” War requires the blood of our young warriors, and this requires the permission of the people who are required to be the fodder in such. Only the people’s representatives can “provide and maintain a navy or make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces” and for “calling forth the militia…to repel invasions.” Only the people’s representatives can “provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States….” Congress is directly responsible for any acquisition of property for military use. All of this is in Article I, Section 8 and belongs to the legislative branch alone.

Funding for war is yet another Constitutional concern and is clearly left with the House of Representatives. The Constitution says: “no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years.” Two years is the designated time that a member of the House is elected and authorized to represent his people. So, President Obama cannot expend monies for military activity to central Africa, or anywhere else, without congressional approval. Article I, Section 7 requires that “all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives….”
Mr. President, a letter to Congress announcing that you have already positioned soldiers in Uganda and plan to send others to the region is not consulting with Congress. As far as we can ascertain you did not even consult with your own party.

The only Constitutional power a president is allowed to have in the Constitution is as “Commander in Chief of the army and navy of the United States, … when called into the actual service of the United States,” which is done only by Congress, not by himself. No president has Constitutional authority to engage in war without a declaration of war—even if done by other presidents before him. And there is no authority to defer this power to an international government—the United Nations—to do it for us. To commit our young to potential death unilaterally is not within a president’s power, and doing so should be an impeachable offense.

Harold Pease

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