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What makes a war

Published:

Last Edited: September 14, 2005, 10:51 am

 

This presidential 'war' is already a costly affair.

I’ve called it a war, but in fact, the problem of a name for it has to go further back to a time when Americans still knew the difference between war and what’s happening today.

When the first of these presidential wars was conducted after WWII, the government was careful to call it a ‘police action’. The distinction always existed. The Korean war was a ‘police action’, and in the beginning the Vietnam War was also carefully called a ‘police action’.

The reason for the distinction was that the presidents conducting the wars were uncomfortably aware that the phrase, ‘war’ is a term that carries Constitutional baggage. Wars are declared by the US Congress.

By the end of Vietnam, the distinction was so drowned in fire and blood the term ‘police action’ was too small to cover the subject. The‘police action’ phrase was abandoned because it was an absurdity, but the legalities remained, and the Vietnam War never earned the legal and Constitutional dignity to be called a war.  This, even though the Vietnam police action was responsible for more US casualties than any actual war in history.

Those who are in favor of the current police action evidently view it as beginning with the attack on the World Trade Center. They see it as an unbroken thread of US retaliation for that attack, wandering about across the Muslim world, where ever a likely target of opportunity presents an excuse for further hostilities.

The Korean ‘police action’ never really ended. Full-scale hostilities toned down to a murmur following a ‘truce’, with each side agreeing to stay on one or the other side of the 38th Parallel, but the fighting continues today. US troops are still there ‘policing’ half a century later.

The Vietnam ‘police action’ ended a bit differently, as we are all aware.

But that’s the way of ‘police actions’. They’re dominated by tactics because there’s no equation for overall strategy to win, no formula to tell us when it’s over.

Wars are won, or lost. Police actions just hang around indefinitely, or until we get tired (Vietnam, Iraq I), or forget (Korea).

Jack

 

Entry #281

Comments

1.
Comment by fxsterling - September 14, 2005, 11:06 am
war police action are good for big business    i don't like it    i always kid people that we should go south or north and add a few stars to the flag     how much do the mre meals cost
2.
Comment by Rip Snorter - September 14, 2005, 11:14 am
I should have mentioned another important distinction between 'war' (Constitutional), and a 'Police Action'.

In a Constitutionally declared war there is an enemy. Citizens aiding and abetting that enemy are guilty of treason, or sedition, which are punishable. But in police actions there are no enemies.

I am opposed to this police action. I believe if the US Congress were forced into a choice of either ending it, or formally declaring war, they'd also be opposed to it, as they'd have been opposed to Vietnam and Korea. I believe the evidence is clearly demonstrated by the fact the presidents of those times, and this president, haven't asked Congress for a declaration of war.

If the elected body representing the people of the US is unwilling to endorse a military action executed by the president, every death, every maiming, every dollar of US treasure squandered on that action rests entirely on the shoulders of that president.

I wonder how he can sleep nights.

Jack
3.
Comment by Rip Snorter - September 14, 2005, 11:18 am
Thanks for the comment fxsterling.
I don't know how much mre meals cost. Probably not as much per item as a clip of M16 rounds.

I'd hate to see us adding anymore stars to the flag. It's a bit too crowded up in that upper-left corner already.

Jack
4.
Comment by Rip Snorter - September 14, 2005, 3:02 pm
fxsterling: "i always kid people that we should go south or north and add a few stars to the flag"

I always kid people that we should change that old stars and stripes for the Jolly Roger so's we don't have to always keep adding stars into that blue field designed for 13.

Jack

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