You Go First: The Peace Amendment by L. Neil Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
- First published in TLE Issue 269, May 2, 2004
- Republished in Issue 465, April 27, 2008
- Author’ Note:As the government continues trying to pick a fight with the Bear, this may be the only deterrent.
The idea is probably as old as the Pharaohs, maybe even as old as Homo Erectus. Whenever and wherever old men have sent young men off to die, sooner or later someone has suggested that the old men should go first.
There are two reasons for this, I think. The first is that, unless you’re running an empire of some kind—which we Americans are not supposed to be doing—and you’re fulfilling a Manifest Destiny you imagine that you have, to reach out and steal everybody else’s life, liberty, and property, finding yourself involved in a war represents a serious failure on the part of a nation’s political leaders. In fact they’ve screwed up bigtime, and there ought to be a price to pay for that.
Instead of paying a price, however, politicians are traditionally rewarded for screwing up. Like the man said, “War is the health of the State”. And of the statists, too. War offers them expanded power and prestige, more stolen money to spend and less need to make excuses about it, greater control over society in general as well as every facet of an individual’s life, and plenty of justifications for employing violence and threats to shut anybody up who objects. But just as nobody should be allowed to profit from a crime, no politician should be allowed to profit politically from plunging his country into war.
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It is time to ratify the Peace Amendment.
Here’s how it would work: the first clause would repeal the War Powers Act and any other law, regulation, or directive that allows a president to send troops overseas (or do very much of anything else militarily) without a formal declaration of war passed by majority of congress.
Maybe even a super-majority.
The second clause would reinstate the 1878 Posse Comitatus in full, forbidding the government to use the military to enforce its will anywhere within the United States. Perhaps this idea belongs in another piece of legislation, but my belief is that politicians feel an irresistible urge every waking minute to use the military to beat somebody up and kill them. Prevent them from doing it overseas, and things could get worse here, unless we prevent that with the same stroke.
The third clause is the meat of the amendment. Having voted to declare war, every Congressman who voted “aye” will immediately get up from his seat and march right out the door, where he will be handed a uniform and a weapon and be conveyed directly to the front, defined as that area of military activity that is producing the highest number of casualties.
No excuses. Practicing politicians will be denied Conscientious Objectorhood. As long as they voted to subject yet another generation of Americans to war, their age, sex, prior service, or state of health won’t keep our valiant congressional warriors from going with the “boys”. If they can’t march, they’ll be given knobby tires for their wheelchairs.
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Heinlein in “Starship Troopers” suggested that only veterans of “Federal Service” should be politicians or bureaucrats.
“A soldier accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic of which he is a member, defending it, if need be, with his life. The civilian does not.”
“Service men are not brighter than civilians.”
At one time in the USA, prior to William Jefferson Clinton, a President HAD to be a combat vet. Senators and Representatives usually too.
Sad that “We, The Sheeple” let that “tradition” slip away.
I like the Peace Amendment. How does it get passed?
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