Reuters reports today that the United States of America has spent $750 million and counting in the current Libyan conflict.
If we’re so broke ($14 trillion in debt and climbing), why are we doing this? Don’t get me wrong, I dislike Col. Qaddafi as much as the next guy, but is this really in our strategic interest? Must we always play Team America: World Police?
James Joyner wrote a fantastic article for the Atlantic describing how Perpetual War has become the the US ideology. I highly recommend it.
The United States has found itself in a seemingly endless series of wars over the past two decades. Despite frequent opposition by the party not controlling the presidency and often that of the American public, the foreign policy elite operates on a consensus that routinely leads to the use of military power to solve international crises.
This ideology stems from the profound erosion of perhaps the greatest check and balance in the American Constitution — only Congress has the power to declare war. Yet, we’ve gone to war at least seven times (Korea, Vietnam, Panama, The Gulf War, Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya) since our last war declaration — 1941.
And its not a Republican or Democrat thing — every President since Truman (with the exceptions of Ford and Carter) has found a way to grab a bit more power for the Presidency at the expense of Congress, though some have been more egregious than others (i.e. George W. Bush). If the American people truly do not want to continue this ideology, they must demand Congress reaffirm its authority when it comes to using military force. Simply put, we cannot financially afford indefinite war — and at some point, the world will no longer tolerate it. Moreover, we should fear it — our all volunteer force can only handle so many conflicts at once.
For far too long, those who’ve advocated the use of force have denounced those who caution against it as unpatriotic. As a combat veteran of the Afghan War, I say that its far more patriotic and courageous to stand up for the Constitution and limit our use of force to only times when Congress authorizes it. But that will only happen if We The People demand it.