News commentary is abuzz about New York Times assertion that President Obama has a kill list of people targeted by U.S. Drones in the war on terrorism. Some commentators describe the list as a stunning, unprincipled, and unchecked use of presidential power. Just when I presume news reporting in the United States and American readers' gullibility reached the limits of absurdity, both prove me wrong.
The Constitution names the President Commander of all of America's armed forces and responsible for national defense. Americans are contradictory that hold Obama responsible for duties not assigned by the Constitution like unemployment rates, stock market prices, and public school quality, but criticize his use of constitutional and Congress granted powers to wage war against America's enemies.
On September 14, 2001, the U.S. Congress issued a "Joint Resolution: To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States."
"IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."
Clearly, this resolution authorizes the President as Commander of the U.S. Armed Forces to make a list of terrorist enemies and to use U.S. armed forces to kill them. Some people might contend the resolution authorized the President only to stop future attacks and not necessarily kill people. They argue he could arrest America's enemies and bring them to trial. This may be possible sometime. Nevertheless, the U.S. Armed Forces are a war making force organized to destroy and to kill when normal policing and judicial processes in defense of security fail. Congress signaled its conclusion that war was the best defense strategy against terrorism by approving uses of the military force against it. Whether correct or mistaken, this was the mandate of Congress for presidential action that it has not revoked. Therefore, some Americans characterizing Obama a president with a personal kill list outside the demands of war is wrong and bordering on subversion.
I suggested when Congress passed the September 14, 2001 Resolution that it was unnecessarily irresponsible by its broadness. It was different from past declarations of war against identified nations. Instead, it extended authority to President George W. Bush to identify terrorist enemies and to use military force against them anywhere in the world no matter their involvement. Bush announced Operation Enduring Freedom as war on global terrorism that would not distinguish between terrorist organizations and nations or governments that harbored them.
People are hypocritical that believe the waves of B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers; F-14 and F/A fighters and Tomahawk cruise missiles Bush ordered against Afghanistan October 7, 2001 were moral killing and the drone strikes approved by Obama are personal and immoral. They forget orders by previous Presidents for military uses of bombs, napalm, and Agent Orange herbicide on enemy and noncombatants during the Vietnam War. They forget Presidents' WWII decisions that targeted German and Japanese cities for regular, incendiary and atomic bomb attacks. The difference is that during October 2001, the shock from destructive attacks on the American homeland still dulled most Americans' concerns for the plight of noncombatants in those attacks.
No matter the 9/11 attacks, most Americans still do not recognize the full horrors of war as an ongoing experience. Except occasionally, few of them consider the death and injury our armed forces members face daily. They ignore that President Obama faces the terrible burden of war decisions daily that may or may not be correct, but will result in death or injury for terrorists, noncombatants, or American military members. There are no safe, easy moral decisions for a president at war.
I understand some Americans disagree with some war strategy or with continuing the war. I do too. They have the right as free citizens to discuss their concerns on that basis and to petition Congress to end the war. However, many of them lack the moral courage to state forthrightly the U.S. Armed Forces achieved its mission and it is time to end the killing. They fear a new terrorist attack the next day may prove them wrong and subject them to condemnation. Instead, they construct safe attacks against the integrity of the President who does not have the option of ambivalence. People are contemptible that cowardly construct their criticism of the war as an attack on the integrity of Obama as if he were a mob boss executing a vicious personal hit list.
President Obama's Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghanistan is harmful to Americans' interests. It recognizes Afghanistan as a sovereign nation. Then, it assigns American taxpayers' the duty to pay Afghanistan's defense, education, and health costs.
This preamble of the Agreement says "The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United States of America have partnered closely since 2001 to respond to threats to international peace. . ." This is a fraudulent claim that changed the true role of United States as invader and Afghanistan as defeated, occupied nation. Nothing positive grows from deceit.
The agreement commits the United States to fund the budget for a religious state. It says the United States shall seek funds on a yearly basis to support the training, equipping, advising, and sustaining of the Afghan National Security Forces. In addition, the United States shall seek yearly funds for social and economic support of Afghanistan people to have access to education, including higher education and vocational training; and access to basic health care and specialized care.
President Obama said in his Afghanistan speech, "As I've said before, the United States has not come here to claim resources or to claim territory," but to help bring Afghanistan peace and prosperity. Obama's vow not to claim local resources or claim territory may sound altruistic. However, it ignores the reality of the costs for work that produce economic or social benefits for Afghanistan. He places the duty to pay those costs on American taxpayers. There is nothing altruistic about burdening American taxpayers this way.
The Partnership Agreement secures the Afghanistan budget with American taxes when our nation struggles with budget shortages and with debt. It guarantees spending for Afghan people's education when many American students attend low-quality schools. It calls for improving Afghan's higher education. However, American universities have too few openings to accept all applicants. In addition, many American college students finance education with a loan and face $25,000 average debt at graduation from borrowing.
James Madison a writer of the Constitution and fourth president remarked, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." Surely, the article does not exist that grants Congress authority to tax Americans to support other nation's budgets and to educate other nations' children.
The Constitution of Afghanistan says, "The sacred religion of Islam is the religion of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan." It adds, "No law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion of Islam in Afghanistan." Congress violates the U.S. Constitution's prohibition not to support a religion if it approves the Partnership Agreement that taxes Americans to support the budget of a nation with government founded on religion.
The language of the Agreement supposedly justifies this transfer of tax revenue to Afghanistan as defense costs against al Qaida. This description is deceptive given that American forces mainly fight the Taliban, the former rulers of Afghanistan. U.S. military forces fighting allied with Afghan forces against a common enemy is acceptable. An agreement imposing a decade of American taxpayers' support for the Afghanistan economy and social improvement is unacceptable. This transfer of American tax money to the Afghanistan's budget tries to buy an ally and gain permission to continue U.S. military forces there after 2014.
Only Americans with a limited and na?ve perspective cannot see the people of Iraq and Afghanistan have been reluctant supporters of American and NATO forces they see as invaders. Otherwise, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars would have ended ten years ago. The Afghan people would not need American military and economic support continuing until 2014 if they supported their government and its goals. Only American leaders believe a nation can buy true allies, especially of people whose homeland U.S. military forces invaded.
American leaders show their denseness about history by using NATO military forces in Afghanistan. The agreement says, "To help provide a long-term framework for mutual security and defense the United States shall designate Afghanistan a "Major Non-NATO Ally." NATO consists of the major European nations that for centuries brutally colonized people in this area, commonly called the Middle East. Much of the conflict the United States experiences with people in Asia and Africa extends from former colonized people mistrust for foreign powers. They are unlikely to trust American forces backed by former colonizers or an agreement that mentions as lower-level ally than NATO nations.
The Strategic Partnership Agreement is similar to agreements European nations imposed on former colonies with the goal to continue the colonizers' authority in freed nations. Another point of distrust by foreign people of American style democracy is the historical double standard of equality for citizens not descendant from Europe. American leaders create more distrust by a willingness to pass the Partnership Agreement that violates American citizens' constitutional protections.
We should leave Afghanistan now without impeding commitments. Our nation gains little from remaining in Afghanistan. It gains much by leaving now such as respect for American constitutional principles and for American democracy. Republicans have been noticeably silent about the Partnership Agreement. I do not expect Republican Party candidate Romney or members of Congress to criticize the Partnership Agreement. They appear not to have met spending in the name of defense they dislike.