Afghan War Now 15 Years Old

Afghan War Now 15 Years Old 

by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

In a recent posting by the Ron Paul Institute, Dr. Paul pointed out that 15 years have now passed since American forces were first sent to Afghanistan. The operation has become “the longest war in U.S. history,” the former Texas congressman noted. He concluded that there were no victory parades because there is no victory.

American troops were first sent to Afghanistan after the devastating 9/11 attacks. Why has this mission become so lengthy? (image from Flickr)

American troops were first sent to Afghanistan after the devastating 9/11 attacks. Why has this mission become so lengthy? (Photo by Program Executive Office Soldier Flickr, some rights reserved).

Troops were first sent to Afghanistan a few weeks after the devastating 9/11 attacks on our nation. Their original mission called for apprehending Osama bin Laden. Thought to be hiding in Afghanistan, bin Laden was discovered years later in Pakistan where he was killed during a Navy Seal team raid. The main target of the U.S. forces from the beginning, however, was the Taliban, the militant Islamic group that had actually been supplied by the U.S. during the 1979-1989 Soviet invasion of the war-torn nation.

Once in Afghanistan, U.S. troops found themselves battling against an enemy using left over U.S.-supplied weaponry. The casualty totals show that our nation has suffered the loss of more than 2,300 killed and almost 23,000 wounded in the 15-year struggle. And the Taliban now controls more of the country than it did when the U.S. forces arrived in 2001 under the label “Operation Enduring Freedom.”

The U.S. media never discusses the little-publicized influence of the United Nations in this ongoing debacle. That is key to understanding the disappointing results of this lengthy mission. In December 2001, the UN Security Council created the International Security Assistance Force to aid the Afghan government. The U.S. supplied most of the troops to carry out this mission. So, from the very beginning of the operation, the UN has had a major role in the effort. Fewer than two years later (September 2003), the task of aiding the Afghan government was formally turned over to NATO. But NATO is a UN “Regional Alliance” formed under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. America’s participation in this skirmish has been directed by the UN throughout the entire 15 years.

The Taliban now controls more of Afghanistan than it did when U.S. forces entered the country 15 years ago. The various tasks given to U.S. troops have included destroying the country’s opium production, engaging in reconstruction of war-torn infrastructure, and training local forces. Some of those local forces have turned their guns on their U.S. trainers with deadly consequences.

If the UN’s NATO weren’t managing this curious war, America’s forces would likely have cleared the country of Taliban dominance years ago. Obviously that’s not what the UN wants. Governments, even the UN, always grow and become more influential during a war. America’s leaders, both political and military, who put up with this are betraying their oaths and putting good men (and some good women) in impossible circumstances.

There are many solid reasons why the U.S. should withdraw completely from the United Nations. The experience already suffered in Afghanistan certainly provides one. Members of Congress should be proclaiming loudly and clearly the slogan, “Get US out! of the United Nations.” Members of the House should be persuaded to co-sponsor H.R. 1205, the bill calling for U.S. withdrawal from the world body. U.S. forces should never be sent into a battle without victory being the goal. Anything less is a betrayal of the troops and even of the nation.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Yes, the Troops Going to Syria Will Be Wearing Boots

Yes, the Troops Going to Syria Will Be Wearing Boots
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

For many years, prominent leaders in the U.S. government have worked to get our country into wars. They seem to know that war always means more government, and they likely also realize that war speeds moral decline which paves the way for assumption of even more power.

The USS Carl Vinson and support ships deployed for combat operations in Syria and Iraq in 2014 (image from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet Flickr account, U.S. Navy Photo/Released, some rights reserved).

Early in his presidency, Barack Obama promised to end America’s involvement in Middle Eastern wars, even to reduce America’s military presence in the region. Those promises didn’t last long.

The U.S. Constitution is very clear about the need for a congressional declaration of war to send U.S. forces into any conflict. That requirement has been in the dustbin of history ever since it was last employed in 1941 immediately after the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. Significantly, the struggle known as World War II is the last conflict America won.

Congressional inability or unwillingness to demand adherence to the Constitution war-making clause led to congressional passage of the War Powers Act in 1973. It said that a president must ask Congress to approve his use of our nation’s forces when he wants to or when he already has sent them into any conflict. It was a weak attempt to address government’s misuse of military might, and it clearly amounts to congressional willingness to ignore what the Constitution states. But even it has been ignored as recent presidents have obtained authorization for war from the United Nations.

Over the past five years, Mr. Obama has sent military trainers to aid rebel forces in Syria and he has approved air strikes against ISIS and its control of a portion of that embattled nation. But he has repeatedly stated that he would not put “American boots on the ground in Syria.”

In September 2014, Obama said he would continue the airstrikes and expand the battle against ISIS. Air strikes are clearly a tactic of war. But he firmly maintained, “We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.” After the terrorist attacks in Europe and America, he announced sending an additional 250 U.S. troops to Syria. “They’re not going to be leading the fight on the ground,” he insisted. “But they will be essential in providing training and assisting local forces.”

Somehow, those 250 additional members of the U.S. military are not to be considered combatants participating in a war zone. What should they do if the forces of ISIS attack them? Or if one of the rebel groups seeking to overthrow Syria’s government attacks them? Can they fight back? Shouldn’t they expect to be targeted? What will be America’s response be if some are killed or wounded? Might the presence of U.S. military forces in this area encourage more terrorist attacks against our nation and others?

“No boots on the ground in Syria,” said Mr. Obama numerous times. Yet, the 250 who are joining other “trainers” in Syria will surely be wearing boots. And the potential for more Americans to be sent into this region grows almost daily. This piecemeal approach is how the Vietnam War started and grew so greatly before being lost.

Our nation seems to be heading into another conflict with no constitutional declaration of war. If combatting the military forces of ISIS with U.S. troops is deemed necessary, the only way to proceed is to declare war and then win it. Don’t seek authorization from the UN. Don’t play semantic games with the lives of those who serve in our nation’s military.

Wars should be won, not dragged out with half-measures, political jargon, and a clear unwillingness to rely on the U.S. Constitution. If military action is called for, only a clear intention to declare war with an intention to win is acceptable. The only other course would be to cease having the U.S. be the policeman of the world, bring the troops home from the more than 100 nations where they currently are, start minding only America’s business, and Get US OUT! of the United Nations.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Neocon Lindsey Graham Calls For Bypassing the Constitution

Neocon Lindsey Graham Calls For Bypassing the Constitution
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham parades as a conservative. But he and his ideological confrere, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, are neoconservatives. The distinction is important because neoconservatism has become a dominant force among many elected officials and media pundits.

What is neoconservatism? The man who always claimed to be the “godfather” of the movement is Irving Kristol. In his 1995 book Neonconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea, he wrote, “We accepted the New Deal in principle, and had little affection for the kind of isolationism that then permeated American conservatism.” He also bared the roots of his political and economic preferences when he additionally stated, “I regard myself as lucky to have been a young Trotskyite and I have not a single bitter memory.” So, he wanted the socialism desired by FDR’s New Deal and the U.S. to be the policeman of the world on the way to world government.

The Leon Trotsky he lauded partnered with Lenin in the takeover of Russia in 1917. A few years later after Lenin died and Stalin emerged as the top criminal, Trotsky fled for his life. The two had split because Stalin favored head cracking and gulags while Trotsky wanted to impose Marxist socialism slowly and patiently. His technique called for propagandizing people into choosing it. Both shared the ultimate goal of a tyrannical world government and differed only in how to obtain it.

So, a neoconservative advocates big government socialism and worldwide internationalism via undeclared wars and entangling pacts. Neocon Charles Krauthammer boldly spelled out these goals in a 1989 article appearing in Kristol’s journal, The National Interest. He advocated U.S. integration with other nations to create a “super-sovereign” entity that is “economically, culturally, and politically hegemonic in the world.” His ultimate goal called for a “new universalism [which] would require the conscious depreciation not only of American sovereignty but of the notion of sovereignty in general.”

Neoconservatives love war. Not the kind authorized by a congressional declaration that might result in a quick victory and the troops coming home, but a conflict started by presidential mandate with full authorization supplied by the United Nations or its NATO subsidiary. As Senator Graham stated in a recent Capitol Hill press conference, he wants the president given a green light for another undeclared war: “I agree with the president that Congress should act regarding giving him the authority to fight ISIL.”

War without the constitutional requirement for a formal congressional declaration has been our nation’s policy since World War II. Our forces haven’t won a war since that struggle because they have been hamstrung by rules imposed by the UN, NATO, or presidential dictate. The U.S. never lost a war until our leaders departed from formally issuing a required declaration. Congress, which should have insisted on adherence to the Constitution, lamely tolerated stalemates or losses in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and now in Afghanistan. If U.S. forces are to be employed to defeat ISIS (or ISIL), there should be a declaration of war, not a presidential dictate.

Neocon Lindsey Graham swore an oath to the Constitution, not to presidential power. He violated that oath when he supported granting President Obama trade promotion authority, the power to entangle the U.S. in sovereignty-compromising deals with the European Union and Pacific nations. He also voted for reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, raising the national debt ceiling, and supplying another trillion dollars to fund socialistic agencies of the federal government. And that’s just some of his record over the past year. Check out his voting adherence to the Constitution as calculated by the Freedom Index.

Not alone in what he supports, Senator Graham has become an outspoken leader of the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party. He supports going to war without a required declaration, entangling the U.S. in the UN and harmful trade pacts, and backing continuation and expansion of federally imposed socialism. This isn’t conservatism; it’s neoconservatism. And it’s terribly bad for our country.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


The War Power Belongs Only to Congress

The War Power Belongs Only to Congress
by JBS President John F. McManus

I happened to be reading a New York Times editorial a few days ago. In it, I was both pleased and surprised to find the following important statement about congressional dereliction of duty:

… by abdicating one of their most important responsibilities under the Constitution, which gives Congress the exclusive right to declare war, lawmakers are unwisely emboldening the executive branch to overstep its powers.

The US heads to the UN when it seeks approval for war, instead of Congress declaring war. Be sure to contact Congress to withdraw from the United Nations (Image from www.jbs.org). 

That sums up what has happened. But the Times editorialist didn’t go back as far as he (or she) should have gone in history. Pointing only to the 1973 passage of the War Powers Act wasn’t enough. Our nation went to war in Korea in 1950 without a declaration of war. Though a cease-fire was arranged in 1953, the state of war in Korea still exists and shooting could break out again at any time. Approximately 30,000 U.S. troops are kept on station in South Korea.

December 1941 marked the last time Congress used its power to declare war, first against Japan and then days later against Germany and Italy when these two nations declared war on the U.S. No one should ignore the fact that World War II happened to be the last war our nation won. We didn’t win in Korea, or Vietnam, or Desert Storm. And we’re not winning in Afghanistan after 13-plus years of struggle.

When a few senators challenged President Truman’s 1950 high-handed decision to send troops to Korea, the president insisted, “We’re not at war; this is a police action.” He got away with skirting the clear intention of the Constitution regarding war-making.

In 1973, after several years of sacrificing thousands of lives and spending billions of dollars in Vietnam, Congress decided to challenge the presidential usurpation of its exclusive war-making power. The lawmakers passed the “War Powers Act” that gave the president the right to use America’s forces without declaring war, requiring only that the president seek a congressional OK to continue using troops. However, whenever troops are already actively involved in combat somewhere, it is certain that very few in Congress would cease funding their mission. The War Powers Act didn’t help the situation; it merely gave members of Congress the opportunity to say they did something.

Our nation’s forces are now employed for humanitarian missions, removal of unfriendly leaders of governments, special missions, etc. All such deployments are initiated by the President acting with illicit regal-like power. Meanwhile, the sole reason for the very existence of our nation to have a military arm – protection of the lives, liberty, and property of the American people – has been forgotten.

Of course, the New York Times never mentioned the seeking of the United Nations (UN) or North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) authorization for the many uses of the U.S. military. When permission to use forces is sought not from Congress, but from elsewhere, the U.S. has placed itself in a subordinate position. The Korean War was fought under authorization supplied by the UN. Authorization supplied by the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (a duplicate of NATO and, like it, a “regional arrangement” authorized by the UN) resulted in the Vietnam War. Desert Storm was authorized by the UN. And the Afghan struggle has been placed in the hands of NATO. The U.S. military has become the UN’s force. This is terribly wrong.

Correcting this situation requires repeal of the War Powers Act and withdrawal from the United Nations, two steps never mentioned by the New York Times. Contact your Congressman to tell them to Get Us Out of the United Nations!

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.


Leaving Afghanistan After Its Enormous Costs

Leaving Afghanistan After Its Enormous Costs
By JBS President John F. McManus

President Obama’s announcement that U.S. forces will be pulled out of Afghanistan must have stimulated many somber memories among the families and friends of the 2,300 Americans who died there and the 19,770 who brought home wounds. Same for British families whose losses included 1,100 dead along with a smaller number from Germany and Italy. The U.S. sent forces into this war-torn country in November 2001, only two months after the 9/11 terrorist attack. At the peak of our nation’s commitment, 100,000 were on duty and 32,000 remain today. It is the longest war ever fought by our nation’s forces.

The president’s new plan calls for withdrawing half of the 32,000 by the end of 2014, drawing down to 9,800 by the end of 2015, and removing all but enough to guard our embassy by the end of 2016. Why not bring all but the embassy detail home immediately is a question few seem willing to ask.

The Obama timetable will allow the president to keep his promise to end the war by the time he leaves office in January 2017. If that’s his goal, he deserves utter contempt for having a personal political goal while continuing to jeopardize the lives of those still on station. If, instead, national security interests form his motivation, the slow withdrawal makes no sense because whatever threat remains will still be there for several additional years. His announced plan also counters sound military doctrine which has always held that a combatant should never signal an exit date to his enemy.

Unaddressed by the president, members of Congress, and our nation’s media is the role NATO has played in the decision to withdraw. The overall direction of the military effort in Afghanistan has been the prerogative of NATO for many years, and NATO is a United Nations subsidiary. The UN Charter mandates that all actions taken by NATO must be cleared by the UN.

Will pulling out from Afghanistan lead to the same type of chaos that Iraq has experienced since troops were withdrawn from that nation? Will the plan to continue training Afghan forces during the next two years lead to more trainees turning on their trainers, with deadly results for our troops? Why do forces from America and other nations have to spend lives and treasure keeping peace among the Afghans who have long been mired in tribal or religious wars? Will the overall mission change again as it has so often during the past 13 years – from chasing Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, to pacification of villages, to destroying poppy fields, to combatting the Taliban?

Immediately after 9/11, Congressman Ron Paul recommended that Congress use its constitutionally authorized power to issue letters of marque (seize) and reprisal (destroy) aimed at those who were responsible for the terrorist attacks. But President George W. Bush decided instead to go to war without the required congressional declaration of war – and Congress allowed him to proceed.

Now that the end of the Afghan tragedy is in sight, it would be comforting to see that those who arranged such a fiasco might be brought to account for what has long been a monumental tragedy.

To learn more about how terrorism is used as a tool to grow the federal government and the security state, visit our Terrorism issues page.


Ukraine: U.S. Should Stay Out

Ukraine: U.S. Should Stay Out
by JBS President John F. McManus

As Ukrainians well know, being Russia’s neighbor can be frightening. One doesn’t have to go back too far in history to know that the 1930s saw Stalin’s forces led by Nikita Khrushchev create a famine in Ukraine that killed upwards of seven million. Food was either shipped out of the country or destroyed in one of the more barbarous crimes ever committed by man against man. It was even remarkably horrible for the Soviet Union’s monsters.

President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine, March 1, 2014 (official White House photo by Pete Souza, via Obama White House Flickr).

Against the desires of a vast majority of the Ukrainian people, their country existed for most of the 20th century as one of the dozen Soviet satellite nations totally controlled by the Kremlin. At the founding of the UN in 1945, Stalin even inveigled a General Assembly vote for the Ukrainian SSR, something that would have been akin to awarding a vote for Puerto Rico that would, of course, have been controlled by the United States.

The southeastern portion of Ukraine contains the Crimean peninsula jutting out into the Black Sea. It is, for history buffs, the home of Yalta, the resort community where Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met early in 1945. The three carved up Europe and the Far East precisely as Stalin wanted. Roosevelt aide Alger Hiss, a U.S. citizen who was a secret Soviet partisan, helped obtain for Stalin (his ultimate boss) everything the bloody-handed dictator wanted.

The two million living in Crimea today are more than 50 percent Russian-speaking. They would likely be happy to see their peninsula become part of Russia while the rest prefer to leave things as they have been for many years. But when the corrupt and ineffective Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was forced out of office only a few weeks ago, factions within the country saw their chances to prevail. So, too, did Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the former head of the Soviet Union’s dreaded KGB, see an opportunity to seize control. He sent more than 100,000 Russian soldiers to boost his chances.

U.S. media tell us of grave concern emanating from President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senators McCain and Graham (both of whom have long indicated their preference for using America’s military power almost anywhere), and others. Troops from Russia have moved in Crimea and a non-shooting face-off developed immediately between them and some outnumbered Ukrainian soldiers.

What should the United States do about this crisis on the other side of the world? How about nothing? How about merely expressing hopes that there be no shooting, that common sense will prevail, and that maybe the people who live there will end up deciding for themselves which country they belong to and who their leader will be.

The last thing needed is for the U.S. to flex its military muscles once again. American policing of the world has got to stop. Announcing such a new policy would be welcomed by the people of our country and by most of mankind. We believe it would also lead to a more peaceful world, not only in the Crimea but everywhere.

To learn more about the Ukraine’s inside players, visit this article from The New American.

To learn more about The John Birch Society, visit JBS.org.


Leaving Afghanistan – Why Wait Until the End of the Year?

Leaving Afghanistan – Why Wait Until the End of the Year?
by JBS President John F. McManus

American troops went into Afghanistan in 2001 after the destruction of New York’s Twin Towers. Then, in 2003, U.S. forces reinvaded Iraq while the struggle in Afghanistan continued at a slower and more agonizing pace. The latest Afghanistan casualty figures note that, in more than 12 years, 4,410 have perished and close to 20,000 have been wounded. President Obama has decided to renege on his frequently uttered pledge to remove U.S. forces by the end of 2014. He is now seeking permission from Afghan leaders to keep 3,000 American military personnel in this faraway land.

President Barack Obama and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan wait in the Green Room of the White House prior to participating in a joint press conference, Jan. 11, 2013 (official White House photo by Pete Souza, (P011113PS-0398) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons).

There is probably nothing more self-defeating for a military force than announcing the date of an intention to withdraw. Won’t the enemy simply wait until you’re gone and then ramp up its activity? No military man would sanction such a plan. This one was decided upon by politicians.

Even so, casualties continue and the men and women assigned to this war-torn country increasingly wonder why they are there. Their mission’s goal has been changed so often – from capturing Bin Laden, to destroying opium production, to pacifying villages, to opposing the Taliban, to resisting counterinsurgency, and more – that their heads must be spinning. Recent publication by angry veterans of this war discusses the incredible Rules of Engagement under which they were forced to operate. No more could they expect air support when attacked. No more could they shoot when threatened. The rules seem almost designed to get them killed.

Frequently, U.S. casualties occur at the hands of the nation’s military and police who have been trained by U.S. personnel. After arming and trusting these locals, some turn their guns on those who taught them how to use the very weapons given them. Also, only a week ago, Taliban forces killed 21 Afghan soldiers, their newest favorite targets who are accused of unwillingness to submit to strict Islamic rule. Meanwhile President Karzai, a frequent and sharp critic of the U.S. effort, now finds himself looked upon by ordinary Afghan citizens as a friend of the murderous Taliban. After all, say Afghans of their country’s president, he maintains an apologetic tolerance of the Taliban and even refers to them as his “brothers.”

American forces should be brought home, the sooner the better. There’s no other way. Let the Afghans fight each other without the U.S. acting as a referee, or as a target. No more dead and no more wounded. It is not the job of the U.S. to police the world. The policing that has been done hasn’t solved anything, either in Iraq where sectarian violence is almost worse than ever, or in Afghanistan.

Learn more about the positions of The John Birch Society at its Issues Pages.