At present, the United States is fighting overt presidential wars in Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda everywhere on the planet, without congressional declarations of war as required by Article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution. There may be ongoing undisclosed presidential covert wars. The fully loaded costs of these wars approach a staggering $10 trillion.
War also fathers the surveillance state featuring indiscriminate spying on the entire United States population. The Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures crumbles under a national security banner. Executive Order 12333 is exemplary in authorizing warrantless surveillance on the President’s say-so alone. The surveillance state flourishes on fear. Performance in making the nation safer is irrelevant.
War impoverishes the nation as a whole while unfairly enriching the military-industrial-counterterrorism complex. Since 9/11, the full war costs of the United States, including lifetime treatment of soldiers wounded in battle, approaches a staggering $10 trillion—or approximately 50% of our national debt. Despite that massive outlay that has starved the nation of needed infrastructure, we are more endangered today by international terrorism than we were more than 15 years ago according to the government’s own national security experts. Yet our demonstrably failed strategy persists.
War produces no consumer goods. More important, war migrates national genius from production to killing. Geniuses are the lifeblood off the processes of “Creative Destruction” in capitalist societies that is the locomotive of national prosperity.
Finally, war destroys the Constitution’s separation of powers—a structural bill of rights against tyrannical government—by bloating the executive. James Madison, father of the Constitution, elaborated:
“War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war a physical force is to be created, and it is the executive will which is to direct it. In war the public treasures are to be unlocked, and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them. In war the honors and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed. It is in war, finally, that laurels are to be gathered, and it is the executive brow they are to encircle. The strongest passions, and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venial love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace. Hence it has grown into an axiom that the executive is the department of power most distinguished by its propensity to war: hence it is the practice of all states, in proportion as they are free, to disarm this propensity of its influence.” Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution provides that the “President…shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason1, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
In 1974, three Articles of impeachment were voted against President Nixon by the House Judiciary Committee for misconduct less dangerous to the citizenry than presidential wars: obstruction of justice; impairment of the due administration of justice and violations of constitutional rights; and, defiance of a subpoena issued by the House Judiciary Committee. Mr. Nixon’s impending impeachment by the full of House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate precipitated his resignation.
Article I, Section 2, clause 5 of the Constitution provides that the “House of Representatives…shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.”
Article I, Section 3, clause 6 of the Constitution provides that the “Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”