America is at war with a dangerous foe eager to destroy our Constitution and our country. While we are so deeply grateful for those who are protecting us, we are losing the war. The goal of any war should be, at least, to restore our country to the condition it was in before the war started. That was the original hope of the Union in the Civil War where they succeeded in not only preserving the Union but also in ending slavery. An even better goal would be to victoriously improve our position, as we did with spectacular success in the Revolutionary War. But in this war with Terrorists we are not even hearing proposals from the President or Congress on how to achieve real victory. There appears to be acceptance that our country will forever be under siege and the most we can hope for is to fend off each attempted slaughter of civilians before too many die.
Terrorists are not criminals. Their goal is not to steal property, to enrich themselves through violent means, or to revenge themselves on some rival gang. They are deadly enemies. Their goal is the destruction of the U.S. Constitution and the establishment of a form of government that is so antithetical to our basic values that it would make the tyranny of King George III look benevolent. Their methods are direct attacks on civilians, causing as much death, havoc and panic as possible. If Terrorists are not the very essence of enemies to America, who is?
Some claim it is naïve to hope for real victory. They accept that America will be permanently under siege by Terrorists. In their view, we will never see an end to those long, long security lines at airports. Every traveler will be subject to search and—what is in reality—bodily assault by TSA agents searching for explosives. Has anyone calculated the cost of keeping millions of people standing in lines for hours each day? What a huge waste! What about the cost of TSA? When TSA agents are daily frightening children and searching the most private body parts of aged ladies for explosives—all in the name of protecting us from Terrorists—you can be sure the Terrorists are winning. When the government, that should be protecting us from assault, is physically assaulting many each time they fly—we can be sure our government is failing us.
It is unlikely that we can win this war until we first acknowledge we are at war. Why has there been no declaration of war by Congress? Terrorists certainly have no doubts about who they are at war with and what their goals are. It is Congress’s role to declare war.[i] When are they going to do their job? Of course you can’t expect much from a Congress that hasn’t passed a budget for over two years, but at some point even they should get the message that Americans expect to win the war, not just tolerate it. Such a declaration should clearly define who the enemy is: those who seek to destroy our Constitutional form of government and to take our rights—especially Freedom of Religion—through violent attacks on Americans, particularly civilians. It should include as enemies those who actively aid and abet Terrorists.
If we declare war, Citizen Terrorists could be treated as criminal traitors. Captured non-citizen Terrorists would be prisoners-of-war. Prisoners-of-war are imprisoned until the war has ended when they can be returned to their homes without threat that they will simply rejoin those attacking our country. They are never tried in court. To release Terrorists because we cannot prove their guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a full blown criminal trial at the local court house is a crazy standard to apply to enemy combatants. The vast and cumbersome machinery of civilian criminal trials—so evident in the recent Casey Anthony trial—was never intended for use in a war setting. Nobody bothered with it for the tens of thousands of prisoners captured in World War II. Declaring war would also permit our Terrorist enemies to be held in prisoner-of-war camps rather than in prisons where, reportedly, they are busy recruiting new fanatics for their cause. Because Terrorists are invading our country, the president already has the right to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and keep them imprisoned for as long as hostilities last.[ii] Why isn’t he using that authority?
One particular problem is that Terrorists dress as civilians and hide among civilians—deliberately putting civilians at risk. We should make it clear that Terrorists will be treated as normal enemy combatants. If they hide in civilian clothes they will be treated as undercover enemies have always been treated—provided with a summary military court martial and promptly executed. That is exactly what General George Washington did with British Major John Andre when he was caught behind our lines dressed as a civilian in the Revolutionary War[iii] and it is exactly how German saboteurs landed by submarine were treated in World War II.[iv]
Would the president—or those seeking to be president—please open a national debate on how we are going to win this war. Are we going to have our bodies forever groped by TSA? Will the billions of dollars spent—along with the priceless lives lost—in Afghanistan eliminate, or even decrease, the Terrorist threat? If not, what is Plan B? Is there a strategy for real victory? If so, please let us know. If the president or any candidate has no strategy—nor hope—for real victory, then admit failure plainly before the next election. Then we will know who not to vote for.
[i] United States Constitution, Article1, Section 8.
[ii] United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 9.