The Founding Fathers would renounce, condemn America’s endless wars

They would decry the current situation in which a succession of U.S. presidents has usurped that power, probably the greatest violation of the Constitution in the history of this nation.

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If, through the use of sort of time machine, the Founding Fathers could return and visit this country they would be shocked and quite troubled to witness the U.S. government’s extremely aggressive foreign policy; and to learn that America’s presidents now have the power to conduct an agenda of perpetual war without the approval of Congress.

Now, how might I or someone else draw such a conclusion relative to what these great American patriots would think or say about the America of today? Well, it’s really not that difficult in that the Founders’ statements about the roles of presidents versus that of the Congress have been thoroughly documented. And there are many excellent biographies of these patriots, revealing what they believed in and stood for.

The Founders were men of honor, integrity and conviction and, based on what they stated on many occasions, they would condemn and totally reject this current agenda of endless war as being against the principles of the Constitution. They would firmly state that the Constitution makes clear that only the Congress has the power and authority to declare war and that the U.S. president most certainly does not.

We might hear Thomas Jefferson sadly saying, “This just can’t be the country to which we gave birth, the one we envisioned evolving into the future. How did this happen, how did our country so greatly stray from the positive direction it had once taken after the colonists defeated the English oppressors?” “How did this government move from a once great democracy into a combination of an oligarchy and plutocracy?”

Speaking of war and the power to initiate it, here are some relevant quotes from the Founders on the Constitution’s War Powers Clause which delegates this power solely to Congress:

George Washington: “The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.”

Thomas Jefferson: “We have already given in example one effectual check to the dog of war by transferring the power of letting him loose from the Executive to the Legislative body. …”  “Considering that Congress alone is constitutionally invested with the power of changing our condition from peace to war.”

Alexander Hamilton ‘”The Congress shall have the power to declare war’; the plain meaning of which is, that it is the peculiar and exclusive duty of Congress, when the nation is at peace, to change that state into a state of war.”

James Madison: “…The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature … the executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.”

James Wilson: (framer and ratifier of the Constitution): “This system will not hurry us into war; it is calculated to guard against it. It will not be in the power of a single man, or a single body of men, to involve us in such distress; for the important power of declaring war is vested in the legislature at large. …”

The Founders were of the same general mindset on the issue of war. They were adamant that, under the Constitution, the central and sole authority for taking this country into war rested with the Congress; and the president had no such power.

They would decry the current situation in which a succession of U.S. presidents has usurped that power, probably the greatest violation of the Constitution in the history of this nation.

They would be shocked at how the U.S. military has used its massive power to intimidate, dominate and establish control over other nations; aghast upon learning about the misguided invasion of Iraq and the subsequent destruction of much of that country; they would find it hard to believe that America has been using military force in Afghanistan for the past 16 years and has no intention of ever leaving.

They would find it incomprehensible that this government was conducting a relentless bombing campaign in Syria and that it was pursuing an ongoing agenda of launching drones that rain Hellfire missiles down upon the countries of Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan.

If they read the following headline what would they think? “Globe-trotting U.S. Special Ops Forces already deployed to 137 nations in 2017.” And this statement: “We operate and fight in every corner of the world,” boasts General Raymond Thomas, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command.”

The Founders would see today’s American presidents and their extremely aggressive foreign policy as closely resembling that of King George III of England who used imperial, unconstrained power to rule over the American colonies. This government continues to exercise that same form of imperial power that the Founders once valiantly fought against and defeated.

Here’s an interesting question: When the colonists were fighting against the English oppressors who had entered their country illegally, and were controlling it and its people, what might King George III and his cohorts have called them? It could be that they referred to them as dangerous colonial terrorists.

The U.S. government is following the same course, the control over other nations that the British Empire pursued in the 17th and 18th centuries. It won’t be long before this latest attempt to reign supreme over the world will come to an end. Of course, the U.S. military won’t collapse, it will still be a formidable power, but the empire of bases will prove to be unsustainable.

Before preparing to leave the Founders would give out this advice to our current president and to the members of Congress:

  • The current agenda of endless war, using intimidation and domination, must come to an end; it is incurring monumental costs and will, at some point, cause America to collapse financially.
  • America needs to return to practicing the art of diplomacy, using the power of persuasion and cooperation to achieve honorable objectives; and use its military as a defensive force, rather than a threat to other nations.
  • Leave the entire Middle East, get out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and do not return; stop launching deadly drones against sovereign nations; stop supporting the vicious air and ground attacks on Yemen by Saudi Arabia.
  • Understand and accept the fact that, in leading this country, you have been going in a wrong direction. You have initiated these many unnecessary and unjustifiable military actions against other countries; and have far too often interfered in the internal affairs of other nations, sometimes with the objective of deposing their leaders.
  • Realize that by your irresponsible intimidation and aggressive military actions you are making more and more enemies, that nations that were your friends and allies are moving away from you, and that you are losing the respect of the large majority of the people of this world.

And lastly; “Wake up, change direction, change course before it’s too late; stop following the same course that led to the demise of the British Empire, as well as others; empires with misguided leaders and governments that foolishly attempted to rule the world.

After providing that sound advice the Founding Fathers, the creators of this country and the Constitution, who did not hesitate to bravely fight in that War of Independence, one that was totally necessary and fully justifiable, would return to their exalted place in history.

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Michael Payne
Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.

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