(U.S. Congressional Candidate in Oklahoma 4th District)
For over 200 years we Americans have fought and died for our freedom. It then comes as a shock to us when others will not do the same for their own freedom. The lesson to re-learn here is that freedom is not free. Neither would we have it if we were not willing to sacrifice considerable blood and treasure to earn it, and to keep it, nor will other peoples appreciate it if they have not paid its heavy price.
When the Taliban controlled the Afghan Government, there was reason for the Afghanis not to fight. They would have had little chance standing alone against that regime. However, lately there are more than 100k NATO soldiers in Afghanistan and still the people refuse to help win their freedom or secure peace in their own land. The simple question is why, and the simple answer, which is usually the most correct, is that they do not want freedom or peace badly enough to sacrifice for it especially when there are others willing to do it for them. Can you imagine the French fighting for us in our own Revolution, and then occupying us afterwards to make sure we didn’t mess things up? Unfortunately, this is exactly what have been doing in Afghanistan.
Now If we conclude that helping the Afghanis win their freedom from totalitarian oppression when they have been barely willing to aid us in that effort is not reason enough for us to be there, but winning the war on terror is, then the question becomes, ‘do we need to occupy Afghanistan to capture and kill terrorists that traffic their trade from there’? Certainly not! The rugged mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, heavily populated with people sympathetic to him, is the enemy’s ground and he is happy to fight us there. Conversely, movement abroad, outside of his safe-havens, is our ground and we have the combat power projection capability to make all of that our battle space. Add to that our Congresses authority to grant letters of Marque and Reprisal to bounty hunters and privateers and there will be almost nowhere a terrorist can travel without exposing himself to death or capture.
My detractors will say that we must stay in Afghanistan or else we will lose the “war on terror.” Whenever you hear someone utter these words realize that what they really mean is that mistakes must never be acknowledged lest they be exposed as mistakes. In General Washington’s day, there were many who argued that if he left New York, or left Philadelphia then he lost the war. But Washington knew that losing his army to push a horrible position would be what really lost the war, so he withdrew on both occasions. The best commanders know that you only commit your soldiers to the battle when the outcome is unquestionably in your favor before the first shot is fired. They also know that you should never fight on ground of the enemies choosing. And they also know that you should never be where the enemy expects you to be. General Washington employed this last stratagem to great effect crossing the Delaware on Christmas night to take the Hessian mercenaries un-aware. Currently, we are breaking all of these axioms of war in Afghanistan and we are paying the price for that in blood.
Moreover, Constitutionally speaking there is no war in Afghanistan. Our Congress has yet to declare one nor expressed their desired “end state” to the President. This dereliction of Constitutional duties regarding war making powers has led to considerable and unnecessary losses for our soldiers in the field and their families. Our founders knew that, left to their own, executives–be they kings or presidents–would engage in military adventures for the sake of their own aggrandizement. To prevent this, Article I Section 8 of the Constitution gives the power to declare war only to the Congress. The President may defend us and our property and he may do so vigorously. However, offensive military actions, invasions or retaliations are considered by the community of nations to be acts of war. Since acts of war commit a nation to war…only Congress can authorize them since, as mentioned above, only Congress can declare war.
Our nation’s foreign policy actions over the last decade have set horrible legal and unconstitutional precedents for future administrations and legislatures to exploit. One can hardly imagine President Washington sending an army to fight in Europe without a legal declaration of war from the Congress. At that time such an action was not the kind of thing that should not be done…it was an action that could not be done. These unconstitutional doors, opened on our watch and left open for the less scrupulous, must be closed immediately.
Lastly, when war is legally and constitutionally declared, we must not yield to arguments that define winning as only achievable by forcing the continuance of an untenable position. We must commit to battle only when we know the outcome in advance. We must fight on ground that we choose. And we must never, ever, be where the enemy expects us to be. Today in Afghanistan we are exactly where the enemy expects us to be. They engage us and withdraw at their discretion. They control the operational tempo and they have way more of our resources pinned down than we do of theirs. General Washington lost more battles than he won. But he won the Revolution because he learned that winning one battle is not worth losing the war. Knowing this, I believe that he would choose to withdraw from the battle in Afghanistan if it meant that he could win the war on terror…assuming of course that the Congress ever gets around to actually declaring said war.
About RJ Harris :
RJ Harris is a currently serving nineteen-year Oklahoma Army National Guard Officer, two-time Iraq War Veteran and U.S. Congressional Candidate for Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District. He is a University of Oklahoma graduate in Philosophy and a second year law student at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. RJ is a Constitutional Conservative Republican and the first 912 Liberty Candidate in the nation. He has appeared on Fox News’ Freedom Watch twice with Judge Andrew Napolitano and been the featured guest on conservative/libertarian talk-radio programs across the country.