Feb 11, 2015
Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen have all been ground zero for America’s 14-year “war on terror.” Today marks the opening salvo for President Obama’s “new war on extremism” and he hopes Congress will approve his version of Middle East war.
The draft legislation authorizes the use of US military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a terrorist group that has lobbed multiple threats that they plan to destroy the West. Obama said the group poses a significant threat to the US and its allies if the radical extremists remain unbridled.
The political dynamics behind the new AUMF will present challenges for the “self-professed” reluctant warrior president, he will face a backlash from his own party, while the Republicans, hoping to regain control of the White House in 2016, are pushing for more flexibility to fight a determined enemy. An example of its limitations includes restrained “offensive ground combat operations,” the deliberately vague language provides cover for both political parties.
The White House sent a letter to Congress with the proposed AUMF legislation asking for permission to engage America in another open-ended war.
“The authorization I propose would provide the flexibility to conduct ground combat operations in other, more limited circumstances, such as rescue operations involving U.S. or coalition personnel or the use of special operations forces. I can think of no better way for Congress to join me in supporting our nation’s security than by enacting this legislation, which would show the world we are united in our resolve to counter the threat posed by ISIL.”
However, the President offered no explanation on the cost of his new “war on terror” and is essentially seeking another off the books AUMF.
After thousands of Americans killed and wounded and trillions of dollars spent, American families and taxpayers are facing new challenges and how to deal with the wartime casualties for years to come.
It’s been suggested that American’s consider a war surtax, paid for by all citizens to finance the war expenditures. Lyndon Johnson learned in the 1960’s Americans pay attention to foreign policy when they have to pay for it – in lives and capital.
President Johnson asked the American people to enact a 5 percent war surcharge to support the Vietnam War for two years, or “for as long as the unusual expenditures associated with our efforts continue.” After a year delay, Congress passed the surcharge tax. At the time, the Vietnam war’s costs associated with fiscal year 1967 was $21 billion.
Traditionally America has sacrificed financially to protect the homeland. In 1942, during World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt said, “When so many Americans are contributing all their energies and even their lives to the nation’s great task, I am confident that all Americans will be proud to contribute their utmost in taxes.”
Since then American elite academics have suggested the country return to that tradition. A research paper titled “War and Taxes” written by University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law’s Steven Bank and Kirk Stark and the University of Virginia’s Joseph Thorndike examines how America used to pay for its wars. “During World War II, Americans were urged to ration food, raise money, and accept higher taxes. After September 11, we were given tax cuts and asked to shop,” an excerpt reads. “Has the United States broken a noble tradition of fiscal sacrifice with the current, unprecedented wartime tax cuts, or are they the mark of new economic and social forces at work? This piece, and the book from which it is drawn, War and Taxes, weighs the question by considering seven conflicts that span the American Revolution to the present war in Iraq.”
As recently as 2009, lawmakers tried and failed to enact a war tax. Democrat Congressman David Obey, drafted legislation that added a surtax in an effort to pay for the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. The “Share the Sacrifice Act,” tried to “end the practice of paying for the war in Afghanistan with borrowed money.”
In an era when there is no military draft in place, Rep. Obey pointed out that “the only people who’ve paid any price for our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan are our military families. We believe that if this war is to be fought, it’s only fair that everyone share the burden. That’s why we are offering legislation to impose a graduated surtax so that the cost of the war is not borrowed.”
Unfortunately, the Democrat’s bill was never debated and President Obama did not have the opportunity to sign or veto the war tax legislation.
With the President’s submission of his new request for authority to wage war the debate shifts to Congress and only time will tell how the United States intends to confront the continuing saga of perpetual war.
© Copyright 2015 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.