It’s also unconscionable that Washington U.S. Senate candidate Clint Didier would undermine the morale of our troops by saying that Afghanistan is not a war, but merely a "conflict," and that the U.S. should not have gone into Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Ross Reynolds: “That war” meaning the Iraq War?But Didier is way off base. On September 18, 2001, Public Law 107-40 was approved by both the Senate and the House with only one “Nay” vote (Rep. Barbara Lee D-CA.) It authorized the use of the United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks. Saying this wasn’t a formal declaration of war is just parsing words. Public Law 107-40 passed by the same margin as the declaration of war against Japan on December 8, 1941 (with Rep .Jeannette Rankin famously voting "nay.") Congress approved the use of force as required by the Constitution. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say exactly what form a declaration of war must take.
Caller: Iraq and Afghanistan.
Clint Didier: Well let’s just say this first of all. You know, our Founding Fathers gave us a game plan. In that game plan, the only institution that can declare war is the Congress. And that is the House of Representatives and the Senate. They did not declare war. So we can’t even call this a war. It’s a conflict. Now in that same…our Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, there’s letters of marque and reprisal. Now, we don’t have a country to declare war against, because we don’t even know where these terrorists are coming from. So we put a bounty on their head through letters of marque and reprisal, it’s in our Constitution, and then we get them that way. The brave people who want to go capture them can or countries can just hand them over. If we could have put a $1 billion bounty on Osama bin Laden’s head, then we would have been way ahead in this game.
Caller: Do you think we overstepped in terms of going into those countries?
Clint Didier: Yes.
Ross Reynolds: Should we have not gone into Afghanistan following 9/11?
Clint Didier: No, unless we declared war. We gotta follow the playbook. We gotta declare war before we go to war. You know the last time we declared war?
By Didier’s standards, his foreign policy idol Thomas Jefferson waged an unconstitutional war against the Barbary Pirates between 1801 and 1805. In that case, Congress also authorized the use of force without actually using the words “we declare war.”
Didier is also wrong that the U.S. didn’t know where the 9/11 terrorists came from. The government knew exactly where they had originated: training camps in Afghanistan run by al-Qaeda and supported by the Taliban. We had known for years. Bill Clinton swatted at them half-heartedly with cruise missiles in 1998. To say that we shouldn’t have gone into Afghanistan to prevent future attacks such as the one that killed 2,976 Americans on 9/11 is unimaginable.
And Didier has no understanding of the minds of Islamic jihadists if he thinks a billion dollar bounty would have brought bin Laden to justice. “Wanted: Dead or Alive” was one of the sillier aspects of Bush’s Global War on Terror.
But it’s not surprising Didier would say what he did about Afghanistan and advocate the 18th century policy of legalized piracy and bounty hunting to deal with 21st century terrorism. Those words parrot Didier’s hero, Ron Paul. Paul, who just endorsed Didier today and who thinks America is an “empire,” congratulated Steele on his statement implying that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable.
Try telling the 1,032 U.S service members who have died and 5,725 who have been wounded that Afghanistan is not a war, but merely a "conflict."