I caught a brief glimpse of Secretary of State John Kerry this afternoon making the rounds of the talking heads. I thought back to when I first saw him conducting the Winter Soldier Investigation into the Vietnam War in 1971. He was heroic and idealistic speaking truth to power. It took a lot more sacrifices to end that war that had been fought on false pretenses with a story concocted to stampede Congress into approving the shameful Gulf of Tonkin resolution. Eventually Congress repealed it as the nation thundered its disapproval. Congress also passed the War Powers Act to try and curtail the President’s warmaking ability and recapture its Constitutional duty. Unfortunately, time and again it has failed to force the President to comply with the act.
There are books describing the imperial presidency as it has become known. President Obama said that he was not seeking to join that long line of imperial Presidents. However, he was already too late. The intervention he ordered into Libya was the beginning of his love affair with the expanded power. Libya was somehow defined as something other than war but we are still dealing with the after effects of it. Now we have John Kerry telling us that the President believes he has the authority to wage war on Syria although he is consulting with Congress. He evaded the question about whether the President would honor the vote even if he lost. “We’re not going to lose that vote,” he snapped.
Who knows where the time goes? I was still in the US military in 1971 and preparing my return to civilian life. I took heart in the friends I had marched with before I was drafted were still marching and I was eager to join them. Although Kerry and I have a lot of gray in our heads I can honestly say I have a lot more of my ideals than he retained. It’s time to re-ignite that winter soldier. Killing Syrians to prove that killing Syrians would be wrong on so many different levels. Only diplomacy can help end violence in Syria supported by the intervention of the US and many other nations.
- John Kerry: 1971 vs. 2013 (illinoisreview.typepad.com)
- Obama Embraces the Imperial Presidency (joemiller.us)