"Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose - and you allow him to make war at pleasure."
I have included this quote as one of my favorite quotations. President Lincoln was speaking about the turmoil of the times and his own personal turmoil on how to handle a fractured nation. He was faced with the daunting task of gluing a troubled people back together. Of course you know the rest of the story. He ended up forfeiting his own life by serving the people.
The message President Lincoln presented gives a nod to the Constitutional foundation that only Congress shall declare war. As such it is a mighty responsibility to place our young men and women into the line of fire. We are asking that they voluntarily, and sometimes forcibly, place themselves in front of a bullet for our freedom. But yet Congress has forgone that responsibility since World War II which marks a serious problem within our mighty nation.
Instead of making a decisive and collective decision, our lawmakers have chosen to pass the responsibility, and thus the potential blame, to a single person. That, I believe, is where we have ventured far from the wisdom of our forefathers. They rightfully knew that the seriousness of such a decision should never be left to a single individual. Placing an entire nation into the potential ire of the world should not be a single man’s decision. Yet, today, we simply tell our president, “Do as you please. We wash our hands of the matter.” And then when it comes time for our representatives in Congress to face the nation they simply say, “We know not how this decision was made.”
It is every countriy's right to defend its sovereignty, but yet a country must be held accountable for the decisions it makes. Thus, it is my firm belief that we rightfully placed our punishing force upon those forces in Afghanistan that invaded our land and attempted to place fear in our hearts. Yet, I still believe Congress should have presented the same bravery that our soldiers did and stand forth accountable for their actions. Their lack of fortitude, in my opinion, ended up costing us dearly.
For in the example they have continually presented since World War II, the decision to move forth in Iraq was simply a vote to tell the President, “Do as you wish.” Today we see the results. Congress men and women simply say, “We had no knowledge of what the President was doing.” It isn’t that simple. It is my belief that each person who voted that serious decision to a single person should be held accountable for the results of their lack of fortitude. Our only recourse is in the voting booth, but we should let that recourse sound across the land. There is where we should make our voice known if we are happy with the results and we should not allow Pontus Pilate to influence our government.
We will never know if President Lincoln actually knew the wisdom in his words. But we do know that not following his advice has yielded controversial results. No war declared by Congress has ever been questioned. Yet, many actions left to a single person has often been debatable. Some, like Afghanistan, are forthright and correct decisions to which we rally. Others, such as Vietnam and Iraq, leave many in doubt. It is a collective wisdom that should decide if we move forward. It is that collective body who forfeited its responsibility that should be accountable when their lack of fortitude presents questionable results.
© 2008, Mark A. Daily