A war is a war is a war

I’m reminded of that experience reading Arnaud de Borchgrave’s commentary of Marvin Kalb’s new book The Road to War – Presidential Commitments Honored and Betrayed

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De Borchgrave agrees with Kalb — I do, too — that “the U.S. has gone to war time and again without the constitutional requirement of a congressional mandate” — Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Lebanon, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq — “whenever modern-day war lords say they need them.” The last time Congress declared war under its constitutional authority was World War II. Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked Congress to do so after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

No “war” since then has had public support. All have cost this country vast treasure and lost far too many young lives. There are no “good” wars, but there are necessary ones. Responsible, constitutional procedures must be followed before commencing all wars to determine which ones are necessary.

How do we get presidents to honor their constitutional pledges to defer to Congress for declaration of war and not back us into these costly adventures? 

Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, have gone along in Congress and the White House with sidestepping the Constitution in this deadly practice. Why don’t media interrogators at presidential debates ask candidates if they will honor this requirement? Why don't the media raise this question when we repeatedly debate going to war, Syria being the latest example? Where are the antiwar public interest groups on this issue?

To adapt a line of Gertrude Stein, a war is a war is a war. And they all need to be a last resort.

Ronald Goldfarb is a Washington, D.C., and Miami-based attorney, literary agent and author of 11 books. www.ronaldgoldfarb.com.

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