Throughout America’s history Congress has declared war eleven times. Six of those Congressional authorizations were declared against various countries as we entered World War 11.
A congressional resolution, but not a declaration of war, got us into eleven additional conflicts. Both Iraq wars and the Viet Nam conflict were fought under a congressional resolution.
Interestingly, the Korean War was fought only by Presidential action but later confirmed by the Senate.
The US is currently acting against terrorism under a congressional resolution passed on September 18 of 2001 caused by the attack on 9/11.
Although I am not a true scholar on these issues it seems to me we have not formally declared war on terrorists because historically a declaration of war is against another sovereign power. Up until recently terrorists were an amorphous undefined group that would have been difficult to identify sufficiently to declare war against.
With the establishment by ISIS and the Caliphate covering much of Syria and Iraq that issue seems moot to me.
The current state of conflict in the region is terribly complicated and fragmented. It consists, at it’s core, a fight between Shias represented by the Assad government backed by Iran and Sunnis represented by the Saudis .In addition a myriad of different groups such as Syrian rebel groups, Kurds, Hezbollah, Turkey and other Middle East county’s are all taking sides. Overlay the involvement of the US and Russia and one can see what a mess we have.
Out of this disaster has metastasized the worst of the worst, that being the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria known as ISIS or ISIL. While the conflict in the Middle East is terrible for the people in the region as seen by the thousands of refugees it only becomes a true worldwide problem with the growth of ISIS who either directly, or through proxies, are attacking populations in Europe, Africa and sooner or later the US.
A declaration of war, if done correctly, could include ISIS and Al Qaeda off shoots such as Al Mourabitoun (probably responsible for the attacks in Mali) and Boko Haram (responsible for terrible attacks in Nigeria).
Because the ultimate aim of the Caliphate is war between Islam and the West we need not to play into their hands by making it a war against Muslims i.e. typified by recent rhetoric coming from some presidential candidates, but a war against ISIS the spearhead of radical Jihadists.
The reason I suggest we might consider declaring war is that it could give us a more focused strategy on combating this extremely dangerous foe. It might also be beneficial in creating a cohesive group of countries including certain Middle Eastern and European countries that are under an even bigger threat then we. Finally it segments out our country’s interests from the rest of the morass of the Middle East conflict. As in so much of life it’s all about focus and setting priorities. Once countries declare war, focus and priorities are quickly redefined.
As a part of declaring war it would seem to me we could also ramp up other methods of defeating the enemy in addition to use of military force. Increased utilization of social media, dramatically increasing coordination with moderate Muslim groups and their Imams and a through review of technology, which allows for hidden communication between and among terrorists are just a few of the approaches which should be considered.
This war is about not only preserving the American way of life but the civilized world’s way of life. No matter if you are a Lutheran in Iowa, a Baptist in Nigeria, a Catholic in France, a moderate Muslim in Syria or an agnostic from anywhere, this is your war and we all might want to begin to take it very seriously.