The Founding Fathers wisely gave war-making authority to Congress, the body that represents the people and the states. Article I, Section 8 empowers Congress to “declare war” but also to make “rules” and “regulations” for the nation’s armed forces. The President is commander-in-chief but he cannot fight anywhere he chooses without Congress.
The nation was recently shocked when four US servicemen were ambushed and killed in the African nation of Niger, falling to a terror group with links to ISIS. Most Americans, including several top US Senators, were completely unaware that the US military was even operating in Africa. But, in fact, at least 1,000 troops are presently in Niger, one of 177 foreign countries where US troops currently operate.
Lindsey Graham, whose entire worldview seems to emanate from a morbid desire to make the entire world a battlefield, did not even know, which caused Senator Rand Paul, a great critic of US war-making policy, to mock him on Twitter:
But Senator Roger Wicker took to CNN (notice he never goes on Fox) to declare his support for the mission, even though Congress did not specifically authorize it:
Let me just say in a general sense, I think we were right to be there. What we are doing is trying to prevent this area of Africa from becoming another staging ground, another training ground for terrorist groups like Boko Haram and Al Qaeda. If we want to prevent another 9/11 being staged from a place like Afghanistan, we need to be where we are now in Africa. I think it is an important mission, and we got specific details about this tragedy, but also some overall guidance about where we are in the region.
We continue to listen to the top experts in the Pentagon. When they say we need something to get the mission done and prevent terrorism from coming to our shores, we will listen to these generals and give them what they need, and give our troops what they need.
Senator Paul has long tried to return Congress to its original role in war-making policy. Back in September, he introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to “sunset” the original 2001 and 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in six months, thereby allowing Congress to debate and vote to re-authorize it, or not. Senator Paul discussed the issue in a four-hour floor speech:
I rise today to oppose unauthorized, undeclared and unconstitutional war. What we have today is basically unlimited war, anywhere, anytime, anyplace upon the globe.
I don’t think that anyone with an ounce of intellectual honesty believes that these authorizations from 16 years ago and 14 years ago authorized war in seven different countries.
But, unsurprisingly, the amendment was tabled (i.e. killed) by a vote of 61-32.
Roger Wicker voted to kill it. The warfare state marches on.