Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The War Powers Giveaway

Last year, as Trump’s front-runner status in the Republican primaries began to truly unnerve the conservative establishment, several figures emerged as possible “fail-safes” to the increasing inevitability of a Trump-Clinton showdown. One of these figures was former four-star general James Mattis, now Secretary of Defense, who was courted by “an anonymous group of conservative billionaires,” as well as former aides of the Bush family. According to the Daily Beast, the billionaires numbered nearly a dozen and were comprised of “influential donors” and “politically-involved billionaires with deep pockets and conservative leanings.”

The potential of a Mattis presidency, though he himself was not inclined to run, galvanized many neoconservatives, with the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol suggesting Mattis might be conscripted into the presidential race and a group of conservative strategists hatching a plan to run Mattis as a third-party candidate. Though Mattis’ underdog candidacy never took off, it apparently didn’t have to.

Indeed, the anonymous conservative billionaires who sought to crown Mattis president are likely quite content, as the former general has gained significant control over the executive branch’s war powers in an unprecedented giveaway of executive power.

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If you recall your US history, this attempt of some rich men to recruit General Mattis to their cause sounds very similar to the attempted coup against FDR, when the rich men of his day attempted to recruit MG Smedley Butler in a similar cause.

In light of what is happening, I think it prudent to revisit what General Douglas MacArthur said in his Thayer Award acceptance speech:

And through all this welter of change and development, your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable: it is to win our wars.

Everything else in your professional career is but corollary to this vital dedication. All other public purposes, all other public projects, all other public needs, great or small, will find others for their accomplishment. But you are the ones who are trained to fight. Yours is the profession of arms,  the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory; that if you lose, the nation will be destroyed; that the very obsession of your public service must be: Duty, Honor, Country.

Others will debate the controversial issues, national and international, which divide men's minds; but serene, calm, aloof, you stand as the Nation's war-guardian, as its lifeguard from the raging tides of international conflict, as its gladiator in the arena of battle. For a century and a half you have defended, guarded, and protected its hallowed traditions of liberty and freedom, of right and justice.

Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government; whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing, indulged in too long, by federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as thorough and complete as they should be. These great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution. Your guidepost stands out like a ten-fold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor, Country.

You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system of defense. From your ranks come the great captains who hold the nation's destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds. The Long Gray Line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country.

This does not mean that you are war mongers.

On the contrary, the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.

But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: "Only the dead have seen the end of war."

Hopefully this does not mean that we all have to die to see the end of war. But something tells me that General Mattis and his ilk really don't see it that way.

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