The press made too big a deal out of the 2000th war fatality in Iraq. 2000 casualties are light for a war of this length. Heck, in World War II, 6,000 Marines died in the battle for Iwo Jima alone!
There's one thing right about this argument. The number of Americans killed in the Iraq war have been few compared to those suffered in past conflicts.
But that doesn't justify any of the deaths in Iraq, nor does it justify the Iraq war. More importantly, a low casualty count does not signify that the war has been "successful."
And given the false manner in which America was pushed into the invasion and occupation of Iraq, one service member killed or wounded as a result of it is one too many.
One of the most visible lessons learned from the Iraq experience is that we have allowed too much power to gravitate to the office of the President of the United States. Article II, section 2 of the Constitution states that:
The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States…
And that's it, folks. It doesn't give him "special powers" to do whatever he wants in time of "national crisis." No power to commit troops to combat, no "Patriot Act" permission to suspend the bill of rights, no clause that lets him disregard international treaties based on a memo from his lawyer.
If you didn't already know it, Article I, section 8 specifically authorizes Congress…
To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;
To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;
To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;
To provide and maintain a navy;
To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;
To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.
How have those powers migrated to the White House?
In 1950, Harry Truman committed U.S. troops to war in Korea without a formal declaration from Congress, opting instead to gain approval from the United Nations.
Lyndon Johnson launched major hostilities in Vietnam Vietnam on the basis of the Senate approved "Gulf of Tonkin Resolution" that gave him broad authority to escalate U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia "as the President shall determine."
Post Vietnam, with the country weary of war, Congress passed the War Powers Act of 1973 that prohibits a president from conducting war for more than 60 days without permission of Congress.
In retrospect, while this appeared to put "war declaration" powers back in the Congress, it was really little more than a road bump to any president's ambition to freely use military force as a tool on foreign policy. One can hardly imagine a scenario in which a president would commit large numbers of troops to a conflict that the Congress would put to an abrupt halt after two months.
A combination of "hidden policy," false information regarding Iraq, partisan political maneuvering, and the 9/11 attacks prompted Congress to pass Public Law 107-243, "A Joint Resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq," the blank check waived the restrictions of the '73 War Powers Act on Mister Bush's plan to remove Saddam Hussein from power by means of a military invasion.
Congress later passed The Patriot Act, which allowed the executive department to bypass key amendments in the Bill of Rights. I can find no record of anyone in Congress protesting that such an action should have required an amendment to the Constitution.
And when Mister Bush's attorney Alberto Gonzalez wrote a memo "allowing" executive privilege to ignore U.S. and treaty law in the treatment of "enemy combatants," hardly anyone batted an eye.
As he was being considered for nomination to the Supreme Court, a U. S. Court of Appeals judge ruled in favor of allowing Mister Bush to conduct military tribunals of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Today, that judge--John G. Roberts--is Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
It's hardly alarmist to say that our Federal Republic is in danger. In fact, it's more accurate to say that our Republic has already collapsed. Recent poll results notwithstanding, we have a man in the Oval Office who is free do virtually anything he wants in the name of "national security," and a legislative and judicial branch that are perfectly willing to let him get away with it.
Whatever your long term political party affiliation, whatever you think about Mister Bush and his associates, whatever you think about the war in Iraq, you should be alarmed and dismayed that America no longer exists under the rule of law, but under the rule of the whim of the head of state.
We the people are the only political entity left that can restore balance of power to our Federal government, but our opportunity to do so is still over a year away.
So you might want to get busy and express your dissatisfaction with the State of the Union to your elected representatives now.