Friday, March 10, 2017


During his campaign, President Trump made it pretty clear that he opposed the Iraq war. Then he chided President Obama for describing ISIS as “the junior varsity.”

He has also made some very sensible and popular statements to the effect that under his leadership, the United States will defeat ISIS. He has subscribed to the simple proposition that America only goes to war to win.

Now I see where the President has sent 400 Marines to Syria, presumably to capture Raqqa, reputed to be the ISIS capital.

I’m sorry, folks, but I have to take exception. Two reasons: First the President has no constitutional authority to start a war. The Constitution says, very clearly, in Article I, Section 8, that Congress has the power to declare war.

There is nothing in the Constitution giving Congress the power to amend the Constitution or to delegate its power to declare war to the President or anyone else.

To deploy American marines into a foreign country, uninvited by its government, is clearly an act of war.

I suppose that many people would argue that Trump inherited the mess in the Middle East. Bush Jr. started it, and we have had troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and thereabouts ever since.

But 400 Marines is hardly the force Majeure that Patton or Eisenhower would have insisted on. On the contrary, 400 Marines is the minimum size of a battalion, typically led by a Captain or a Major. Just a little more than we lost to two suicide bombers in Beruit in 1983.

I had hoped, vainly, it turns out, that President Trump would take his oath to support and defend the Constitution seriously; that he would not simply get on the train of international military deployment as an executive geopolitical strategy.

He is supposed to be the great deal maker. Does he think he can win a poker hand by showing a pair of deuces?  Or scare Macy’s by opening a dime store across the street? No sir, sending 400 Marines to Syria is a Obama-esque neighborhood rumble.

The worst part about it is that it tells the world America is not serious about destroying ISIS. It tells the world that we are a war weary nation torn between fighting and tolerating an enemy that hates us.

It tells the world that the Congress of the United States, and by extension, the majority of our 320 million people, are simply uncommitted to the kind of sacrifice that actual, honest and serious warfare demands.

I’m not a hawk and I shutter at the thought of turning the deserts of the Middle East into a vast Omaha Beach. But the truth is that we are confronted with an enemy whose principle source of power is a pathological corruption of theology.

We can, I suppose, live with the beheading of Christians broadcast on the Internet and the periodic slaughter of random civilians. We can do what we have been doing within the strictures of civilized society to punish offenders and minimize the hurt by detecting and thwarting their conspiracies.

But the lives of the brave and patriotic Americans serving in our Armed Forces are too precious to be appropriated as sacrifices to a make-believe war conducted by professional military commanders who use and sacrifice them as pawns in an interminable international chess game.

From my perspective, Mr. President, your decision to deploy 400 Marines to Syria is a mistake. Bring them home. Deploy them around the Capital Building and call the Congress into a continuous session to debate and decide what the United States should be doing, if anything, in the Middle East.

If their decision, reflecting as it must, the disposition of their constituents, is to defeat and destroy ISIS, let them declare war, identify the enemy, and define the objective of our military action.

If the objective is to kill or convert every man, woman or child who believes that Allah wants them to kill Americans, then let us say so, and get on with it.


  1. Judge.....regarding your para about "....professional military commanders...sacrifice them as pawns..." Hogwash! Name me ONE significant military conflict that was not initiated by SECDEF or POTUS. The civilian leadership makes the strategic decisions while military commanders make the tactical decisions. Civilian leadership approved and initiated Desert Storm, Gen Schwarzkopf executed it. Do you blame the casualties on those that executed the order or those that ordered the military to liberate Kuwait?

    A comment on your pair of deuces military force. With our "smart weapons" we no longer need massive air strikes to take out a target. During Vietnam dozens of sorties were launched to take out the Doumer Bridge. Today that could be accomplished with one weapon employed with minimal risk to the launch platform.

  2. No Declaration of War here!

    Significant parallels

    1. What is the significance of the comment, "no declaration of war".