September 10, 2021 --
The chaotic end of our military adventure in Afghanistan has obscured a very salient point concerning our two decades' involvement in a land that, while perhaps a country -- probably does not yet constitute a nation-state.
The Constitution in Article I, Section 8 gives Congress the "Power," among other things, "To declare War[.]" Madison, in Federalist No. 41, gives short shrift to this congressional power: "Is the power of declaring war necessary? No man will answer this question in the negative. It would be superfluous, therefore, to enter into a proof of the affirmative."
Events since 1950 have proven Madison to have been a false prophet on the power to declare war. We got into wars in Korea and Vietnam by means other than congressional declarations of war. See this table setting forth wars entered into by congressional declaration, wars entered into without congressional, and military involvements pursuant to United Nations Security Council resolutions.
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We went to war in Korea in 1950- a "police action", it was popularly called. -- pursuant to a UN Security Council resolution, and our military involvement in Vietnam, originally by way of military "advisers," got to be justified by the fig leaf of the "Tonkin Gulf resolution," by Congress -- which, still,, was not a declaration of war.
Consider the results of the two military involvements: stalemate in Korea, from 1953 to the present day; defeat in Vietnam.
Why should we be surprised at the Afghanistan denouement? Congress did not approve an express declaration of war on Afghanistan. The words to Congress, 70 years age, from a wise, indeed, great ,military figure, implied the problems created by the absence of a declaration of war
On April 19, 1951 General Douglas MacArthur, removed by President Tuman as our commander in Korea, addressed a Farewell to Congress.
I will quote excerpts for that address, excerpts relevant today, but first here is a link to the entire speech.
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LPR thinks that the present Woke attack on common sense sheds light on the general's "Farewell Address to Congress,"
as the criticism, often vicious, against MacArthur seems to come from the same rabid, radical leftist mindset against President Trump.
In the following paragraphs, General MacArthur refuted attacks on him as "a warmonger," and went on to state a common sense approach to waging war against the Chinese Communists in Korea, an approach that should inform any and all of our use of military force to accomplish stated -- and clear -- aims.
While no man in his right mind would advocate sending our ground forces into continental China, and such was never given a thought, the new situation did urgently demand a drastic revision of strategic planning if our political aim was to defeat this new enemy as we had defeated the old.
Apart from the military need, as I saw It, to neutralize the sanctuary protection given the enemy north of the Yalu, I felt that military necessity in the conduct of the war made necessary: first the intensification of our economic blockade against China; two the imposition of a naval blockade against the China coast; three removal of restrictions on air reconnaissance of China's coastal areas and of Manchuria; four removal of restrictions on the forces of the Republic of China on Formosa, with logistical support to contribute to their effective operations against the common enemy.
For entertaining these views, all professionally designed to support our forces committed to Korea and bring hostilities to an end with the least possible delay and at a saving of countless American and allied lives, I have been severely criticized in lay circles, principally abroad, despite my understanding that from a military standpoint the above views have been fully shared in the past by practically every military leader concerned with the Korean campaign, including our own Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The following two paragraphs explain how the restraints placed on the General MacArthur barred him from effectiv use of military, and, indeed, seem to to explain our failure in Afghanistan:
I called for reinforcements but was informed that reinforcements were not available. I made clear that if not permitted to destroy the enemy built-up bases north of the Yalu, if not permitted to utilize the friendly Chinese Force of some 600,000 men on Formosa, if not permitted to blockade the China coast to prevent the Chinese Reds from getting succor from without, and if there were to be no hope of major reinforcements, the position of the command from the military standpoint forbade victory.
We could hold in Korea by constant maneuver and in an approximate area where our supply line advantages were in balance with the supply line disadvantages of the enemy, but we could hope at best for only an indecisive campaign with its terrible and constant attrition upon our forces if the enemy utilized its full military potential. I have constantly called for the new political decisions essential to a solution.
The present situation in Afghanistan suggests variation on the theme envisioned by this five-star general sixty years ago: Indecision onn ways and means precludes victory.
Here now is, arguably, the essence of General MacArthur's farewell message to Congress, Apru 19 1951, a message that, after six decades, has yet to be accepted by the people the voters send to Congress:
But once war is forced upon us, there is no other alternative than to apply every available means to bring it to a swift end.
War's very object is victory, not prolonged indecision.
In war there is no substitute for victory.
The rabid, radical left demeaned the wise soldier-statesman who spoke these words to Congress, they disparaged him, they insulted him, they ridiculed him. But not pressing for victory, accepting "prolonged indecision," we continue to worry about the aggressive nature of the leader of North Korea, and, as we fled in chaos from Vietnam, and we again flee in chaos from Afghanistan.
Imagine if there has been a congressional declaration of war on Noth Vietnam -- would it have red, in part, "This is to authorize the armed forces of the United States to accept defeat once our country's killed in action numbers reach 50,000."
And imagine a congressional declaration of war against Afghanistan: "This is to authorize the dispatch of U.S. troops to Afghanistan for the purpose of gaining revenge for 9/11, along with the continued stationing of U.S. troops to provide security for gender studies in Afghanistan schools, so long as the duration does not extend past 9/11 plus 20 years. This deadline is irrevocable even should our departure be hasty, chaotic, and leave the Taliban in control of Afghanistan, as they were prior to this resolution."
Of course not.
The moral of Korea, of Vietnam, and, now of Afghanistan has yet to sink in. No American troops are to be sent into harm's except by faithful adherence to the sage counsel of General Douglas MacArthur, in the pursuit of victory, as set forth in his Farewell Address to Congress, April 19, 1951.
There is one further excerpt from the MacArthur Farewell of current significance, an excerpt that justifies my description of this wise leader as "soldier/statesman." The following paragraphs refer to MacArthur's service as America's pro-consul for Japan, 1945 - 1951, a leadership that made it possible for him to take U.S. forces from their duty in Japan to engage the enemy in Korea, without adverse impact in Japan.
The Japanese people, since the war, have undergone the greatest reformation recorded in modern history. With a commendable will, eagerness to learn, and marked capacity to understand, they have, from the ashes left in war's wake, erected in Japan an edifice dedicated to the supremacy of individual liberty and personal dignity; and in the ensuing process there has been created a truly representative government committed to the advance of political morality, freedom of economic enterprise, and social justice.
Politically, economically, and socially Japan is now abreast of many free nations of the earth and will not again fail the universal trust. That it may be counted upon to wield a profoundly beneficial influence over the course of events in Asia is attested by the magnificent manner in which the Japanese people have met the recent challenge of war, unrest, and confusion surrounding them from the outside and checked communism within their own frontiers without the slightest slackening in their forward progress.
I sent all four of our occupation divisions to the Korean battlefront without the slightest qualms as to the effect of the resulting power vacuum upon Japan. The results fully justified my faith. I know of no nation more serene, orderly, and industrious, nor in which higher hopes can be entertained for future constructive service in the advance of the human race.
We have seen many comparisons of the chaos in Afganistan, today, to the chaos in Saigon (now Ho Chi Min City), when North Vietnam swooped down, in 1975, upon a South Vietnam that we abandoned. I have yet to see comments in the media along the lines of: how come MacArthur succeeded in bringing democracy to Japan after less than five years as our pro consul, while after two decades, we have failed to engender the spirit of liberty in Afghanistan, to give the people of this despoiled land the will to stand up to, and, indeed, vanquish government by terrorists?
Maybe it is time for some revisionist thinking about General Douglas MacArthur.