Jonathan Karl / ABC News & Michael Boldin – 2006-10-01 07:49:21
Top Generals Hint at Army Expansion of 60,000 Troops
Growth now being discussed as Iraq, Afghanistan conflicts continue
Jonathan Karl / ABC News
(September 25, 2006) — The strain on the Army from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan has become so great that top officials are now privately saying the only long-term solution may be to make the overall size of the Army bigger, adding as many as 60,000 troops, ABC News has learned.
It’s not a request or a recommendation yet, but senior Army officials have discussed this for weeks and are now in agreement that the Army could meet its worldwide obligations more easily by expanding the overall size of its force.
There are currently 501,000 troops with the level expected to reach 512,000 by the end of next year. To add an additional 60,000 is a costly proposition that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has consistently opposed.
In a sign of the strain on US troops, a brigade from the Army’s 1st cavalry division was ordered today to return to Iraq a month earlier than planned, while another Army unit, now fighting in the violent city of Ramadi, has been ordered to extend its year-long stay in Iraq by another six weeks.
Both are examples of the trend where troops are spending more time in Iraq and Afghanistan and less time at home.
In August, one soldier at Camp Victory in Iraq told ABC News he’s missing out on his kids’ childhoods.
“I’ve got a wife and four kids back home I miss terrible. I miss them very much. They’re growing up without me,” said Sgt. Major Norm Vasparrentak.
Concerns About Future Threats
The reason senior Army leaders want to go to a bigger Army is that they are worried about their ability to fight future threats. One official told ABC News, other than the troops now in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are only two to three combat brigades — that’s 7,000 to 10,000 troops — who are fully trained and equipped to respond quickly to a crisis.
“If we keep forces in Iraq too long, we risk running into a situation where the force begins to break,” said former US Army officer Andrew Krepenevich.
Increasing the size of the Army would take time and money, so to deal with the strain in the short-run, officials are also considering another costly and unpopular idea — using more National Guard troops in Iraq.
The strain has also spread to the equipment, with the Army now saying it will cost $17 billion a year to repair and replace equipment in Iraq. Right now, some soldiers in the US don’t have all the tanks, artillery and other equipment needed to train because when they return home, units deployed to Iraq leave their equipment behind in that country for their replacement units.
The military does this because it’s more cost-efficient than shipping the equipment back and forth, and it speeds up the turnover time between units.
These challenges are about to hit the taxpayers hard. The Army is pushing for a big increase in its next budget of, perhaps, more than $20 billion a year.
ABC News’ Luis Martinez contributed to this report.
WARS AND DEBTS AND TAXES, OH MY!
“Resistance to state tyranny is obedience to God.”
— St. Augustine
“Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”
— Thomas Jefferson
(September 29, 2006) — Recently, an Associated Press report reaffirmed to me that the leadership of the two major political parties in America are totally in favor of continuing war in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Senate agreed to spend an additional $63 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as lawmakers passed a massive bill that funds the Pentagon.
The bill sailed through by a vote of 98-0.
I was immediately reminded of a common sense observation by Thomas Paine:
“In reviewing the history of the English Government, its wars and its taxes, a bystander, not blinded by prejudice nor warped by interest, would declare that taxes were not raised to carry on wars, but that wars were raised to carry on taxes.”
Interestingly enough, that doesn’t sound much different from what we experience today!
A TWO-HEADED MONSTER
There are only a few politicians who are truly opposed to war. Some people are amazed or even angry when I state my position: that war is not solely the fault of Bush and the Republican Party; the Democratic Party is equally responsible for starting, fueling, and funding the war machine.
If my memory hasn’t failed yet, it wasn’t just the Republican Party that got us into this horrible mess. The Democrats voted for it as well, promoted it as a necessity, and even bombed Iraq on a regular basis throughout the 1990s; all the while aggressively supporting UN sanctions that resulted in over one million dead innocent Iraqis.
Not only did both parties collectively authorize the invasion, they continue to join together to overwhelmingly approve billions in supplemental funds to continue the killing.
So, even though Bush will someday leave office and cease being a “war president,” we must start facing the fact that it’s not just him or his neo-conned Republican party that are guilty of war crimes; it’s the American political machine itself, fronted by both the Republicans and Democrats, that is completely addicted to the bloodlust, powerlust and moneylust of warfare. Hence, it’s the American political machine that we must resist.
The only way to improve America’s image is to end our wars immediately. We must also bring home all of our troops, not only from Iraq and Afghanistan, but also from more than 100 other countries in which the US government is interfering with its so-called military presence. Of course, once we have achieved this withdrawal from our global empire of military intervention, those Americans who would nonetheless wish to leave their families and jobs to help oppressed people overseas would still be free to do so.
But realistically, such a “withdrawal” will never happen so long as the Republican and Democratic parties are ruling over us.
By now, it’s become rather clear to those of us “not blinded by prejudice nor warped by interest” that even when We The People want peace, the two major parties pursue war.
Another 98-0 vote should make that quite obvious.
BACK TO BASICS
The standard belief is that all American wars have been fought to “protect freedom.” On the contrary, these wars have been the primary impetus for the growth of centralized power in the federal government. Wars have eaten away at our liberty, crippled our economy, intensified our national debt, and shamed our former image as the “land of the free.” We have lost freedom because of these wars; not secured it as the politicians have told us.
Simply stated, the Constitution allows for the commencement of war only after a declaration of war from the Congress. By waging wars without the constitutionally required declaration of war, the president has blatantly violated the Constitution.
Some people have tried to tell me that a declaration of war wasn’t necessary after Congress delegated this power to the president in late 2002. They claim that this was a legal substitute for the Constitutionally-required Congressional declaration of war.
This is utter nonsense.
First, the plenary power to “declare war” was given to Congress by the Framers so that the legislature — the branch most closely tied to the People, whose money and lives would be put at risk — would be making the decision as to whether or not war would commence.
The commander-in-chief only has the power to wage war after a war has been declared. It is only the representatives of We The People who have the power to declare war. Such power is clearly enumerated in Article I, Section 8, of the US Constitution, and I encourage you to read it for yourself .
Second, in accordance with the Tenth Amendment , the Supreme Court has long held it to be illegal for any branch of the federal government to delegate or transfer its constitutional powers to any other person or branch of government.
Simply put, unless a direct attack is being repelled, Congress is where war starts. Period.
Third, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land which We The People have instituted to limit the actions of federal officials. Like it or not, politicians must abide by its restrictions on their power. If they don’t like a particular part of the Constitution, or even if they think it’s outdated, the only appropriate action is to call for a Constitutional Amendment, and not to just ignore the law.
By waging wars without a prior Congressional declaration, the Executive branch has repeatedly violated the Constitution. By delegating its power to declare war to the president, the Legislative branch has repeatedly violated the Constitution as well.
DANGEROUS TO LIBERTY
Beginning with Harry Truman and the Korean War, Democrat and Republican presidents alike have taken the unconstitutional position that it is no longer necessary for Congress to declare war. Presidents now send armed forces to fight wars all over the world without Congressional declarations.
The sad reality, though, is that Congress could have stopped, or even prevented, such foreign entanglements at any time by simply refusing to finance them. Such power is not insubstantial. In reality, the current war in Iraq has been ongoing for over 15 years, has spanned the administrations of three presidents, and multiple congresses which were under the control of both political parties. This proves that Congress is just as responsible as the Executive for this unconstitutional war.
So, in Iraq, we see yet another failure of our vaunted Constitutional Republic to maintain a peaceful America.
Furthermore, the Constitution has become little more than a glorified sham, as Congress and the Executive have habitually succeeded in using it as a fig-leaf cover while they violate our inalienable rights. Since our current wars were started on unconstitutional grounds, any further funding and continuation of them is illegal and unconstitutional. In this sense, any funding bills approved by the Congress are illegitimate.
So, unfortunately, unless we do something ourselves, we’re stuck waiting for a Constitution-flouting Congress to take the lead. With yet another unconstitutional war-funding bill “sailing through the Senate,” the prospects for peace don’t look too good.
The painful truth is that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are going to end this war. Nevertheless, we can, must, and will do so by refusing to play by their rules.
WHAT THE FOUNDERS THOUGHT
As the founders so often stated, the greatest threat to our liberty is our own government. This is the only reason we even have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. If our government wasn’t dangerous to freedom, these documents wouldn’t be necessary.
Historically, what is the number one means by which governments take away freedoms from the People? The founders knew quite well: through its military. This is why many of the founders vehemently opposed a “standing army,” which is a professional military force. They knew that such an institution would grow into a feral beast, and be used to involve the country in dangerous, costly, destructive and foolish wars. 
They warned even more vigorously that politicians would eventually use the troops to ensure a subservient citizenry at home.
There is only one solution to these internal threats to our liberty and safety. We must finally act on the Founders’ warnings against standing armies. 
If we would have dismantled the massive American military empire years ago, the federal government wouldn’t have had the power to create the catastrophe we face today. 
They wouldn’t have had the ability to set up a massive military presence throughout the Middle East. Thus, they would never have been able to kill over a million people in Iraq with their unconstitutional wars, sanctions, and invasions.
Without all this infliction of death, we wouldn’t have had terrorist attacks on our country, and therefore wouldn’t have had a “war on terror.” Without the war on terror, we never would have experienced the Orwellian US Patriot Act, warrantless domestic spying, secret courts, military tribunals, extraordinary rendition flights for tortures, and other attacks on our rights.
None of this would have been surprising to the founders. James Madison gave us ample warning: “Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.”
STOPPING WAR NOW
As stated so clearly in the Declaration of Independence, the American people have every right to write a new declaration of independence in response to the illegitimate, unlawful, and unconstitutional acts of their rulers. Such rights are inalienable and absolute in all people. Whereas these rights cannot be altered or abolished, governments can.
In fact, Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration, thought that governments should be abolished periodically just to keep political leaders in check. Shortly before the Constitution was ratified, he wrote to Abigail Adams, “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.”
My hope is that such a “spirit of resistance” will rise once again before too many more innocent lives are lost   .
•  Read the United States Constitution at: http://www.populistamerica.com/constitution
•  Read the Bill of Rights (the first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution) at: http://www.populistamerica.com/bill_of_rights
•  See Dr. Ismael Hossein-Zadeh’s “The Political Economy Of US Militarism” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) [A brilliant must-read analysis of America’s economic addiction to war.]: http://www.amazon.com/Political-Economy-U-S-Militarism/dp/140397285
•  See Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay’s 9/25/06 Online Journal essay, “The Five Pillars Of The US Military-Industrial Complex” [Those five pillars are: (1) the US Military Establishment; (2) the Private Defense Contractors; (3) the Political Establishment; (4) the Think-Tank Establishment; and (5) the Propaganda Establishment.]: http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_1241.shtml
•  See Peter Spiegel’s 9/25/06 Common Dreams/LA Times article, “Army Warns Rumsfeld It’s Billions Short In Iraq. An Extraordinary Action by the Chief of Staff Sends a Message: The Pentagon Must Increase the Budget or Reduce Commitments in Iraq and Elsewhere” [Bush’s elective war in Iraq has produced massive hemorrhaging of taxpayer monies. Now Army Chief of Staff Schoomaker is seeking $138.8 billion in 2008, which is nearly $25 billion ABOVE the budget limits originally set by Rumsfeld. And the Army’s budget for FY 2007 is $98.2 billion, making Schoomaker’s request a 41% INCREASE over current levels. It is no exaggeration to state that spendthrift Bush is BANKRUPTING the USA!]: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0925-08.htm
•  Gordon Prather’s 9/25/06 LewRockwell.com essay, “The Cheney Cabal” [This brilliant nuclear physicist knows the Bushites’ claim that the USA is in a “nuclear crisis” with Iran is totally false, and he explains why the rest of the world outside the USA realizes that the Neocon Cabal’s cockamamie scheme to start another illegal war of aggression is poppycock.]: http://www.lewrockwell.com/prather/prather53.html
•  Paul Craig Roberts’ 9/25/06 LewRockwell.com essay, “Crisis Is Upon Us” A Crisis Upon Us” [The Bush Administration is itching to nuke Iran. What appears as irrationality to experts is rationality to the neocons. Neocons seek maximum chaos and instability in the Middle East in order to justify long-term US occupation of the region. … Neocons claim that tactical nuclear weapons are necessary to destroy Iran’s underground facilities. However, their real reason for using nukes against Iran is to intimidate Iran from retaliating and to threaten the entire Islamic world with genocide unless Muslims bend to their will and accept US hegemony over their part of the world.]: http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts175.html
•  Dave Lindorff’s 9/26/06 Counterpunch essay, “Bush And Iran: Going To War To Save His Own Ass?” [The problem is that Bush, who has trashed the Constitution to the point that is now little more than a historical artifact, doesn’t think he needs approval from the UN or even from the Congress to embark on his most dangerous, bloody and immoral war yet.]: http://www.counterpunch.org/lindorff09262006.html
Michael Boldin is an outspoken critic of the American political system, and the senior editor and a contributing writer for PopulistAmerica.com. He can be reached by e-mail at: email@example.com