The Atlantic has a great post today about the difference between Woodrow Wilson’s speech announcing the United States’ entrance into WWI and modern political speeches. I think President Obama’s decision to go to war in Libya was a good one, and it was well executed in a military sense, but I did not like the legal or political context that he used. The “protecting civilians” argument was pretty transparently “regime change” from the very start, and his refusal to seek Congressional approval after the statutorial required 90 days was particularly troubling. Read below to see how to declare war the right way:
What this will involve is clear. It will involve the utmost practicable cooperation in counsel and action with the governments now at war with Germany, and, as incident to that, the extension to those governments of the most liberal financial credits, in order that our resources may so far as possible be added to theirs. It will involve the organization and mobilization of all the material resources of the country to supply the materials of war and serve the incidental needs of the nation in the most abundant and yet the most economical and efficient way possible. It will involve the immediate full equipment of the Navy in all respects but particularly in supplying it with the best means of dealing with the enemy’s submarines.
It will involve the immediate addition to the armed forces of the United States already provided for by law in case of war at least 500,000 men, who should, in my opinion, be chosen upon the principle of universal liability to service, and also the authorization of subsequent additional increments of equal force so soon as they may be needed and can be handled in training. It will involve also, of course, the granting of adequate credits to the Government, sustained, I hope, so far as they can equitably be sustained by the present generation, by well conceived taxation….
Note also the explicit admission that taxes and debt would have to be raised to pay for war. One can only imagine what that sort of bluntness would have sounded like coming from George W. Bush in the spring of 2003, or from President Obama in 2011.