US Presidents do not have the legal power to declare wars. Barack Obama ignored that Constitutional guarantee in Libya, and is set to begin another war while Congress is not even in session. If we continue to allow Presidents to attack small nations whenever they need a distracting headline, then they are no longer “Presidents”, and we are no longer a Republic.
The politicians who want to borrow (or print) more billions to pre-emptively attack Syria are the same politicians who used our foreign aid to pay for the Pakistani and North Korean nuclear weapons. Muslim nations receive five times more US foreign aid than Israel, and North Korea still gets our support for its hereditary dictator. The US has helped every dictator in the world since 1945, including Castro, Pol Pot, and Idi Amin. We also funded the Taliban both through direct foreign aid and via the Pakistani spy service… in fact, the GAO reports that the Taliban still receives at least $500 million a year in payoffs from US contractors in Afghanistan. If our foreign policy is supposed to get rid of dictators, maybe we should take them off our welfare rolls first.
From 1971-2001, USAID says that US foreign aid to Syria was $539 million. In recent years, US money has been funneled to the Assad regime through the UN. In June, the UN announced plans to spend 5.2 billion in aid to Syria in 2013, much of which would go through the regime. And there is always the inscrutable Federal Reserve, which since 1980 has “monetized” (i.e. paid off) billions of dollars worth of foreign bonds held by US banks, making accurate foreign aid totals impossible to obtain (probably even the US state department doesn’t know the amount). While much less than aid to Egypt or Pakistan, our taxes still gave the Syrian dictator dynasty enough support that they could afford to suppress their own nation’s economy to control dissent.
Militarily, the US has been allied with the Assads for decades. In 1991 Hafez al-Assad sent 14,500 soldiers and support personnel to attack Saddam Hussein in Desert Storm. In 2001 the Syrian secret police joined with US intelligence agencies in the War on Terror.
So the US has been supporting the vicious dictatorship for decades. Now, however, we are also supporting an Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist insurgency. So now we are paying for both sides of the war (as the GAO says that we have done in Afghanistan).
What if, instead of paying for both sides of various wars, we just kept all our money at home and left it in the US economy? Our military spending on offensive forces is nearly as much as all the other nations’ combined. What if we used some of that money for Swiss-style civil defense to protect our own children in the event of terrorist or WMD attack?
A United States that wasn’t involved in Middle Eastern, African, and Central Asian wars would be a more secure United States. Not only would we have fewer enemies, but we wouldn’t be bankrupt and vulnerable when there is an unavoidable conflict. Right now our debt is bigger than our GNP… we can’t even afford to pay for the last few wars we fought, let alone start new ones.
Thomas Jefferson warned against getting entangled in the wars of other nations. “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.” But then Thomas Jefferson was a President, not an Emperor.