THE BASIC PREMISES: DEMOCRATIC WAR
Let me make my intent very clear before I start this commentary. I am not against war. I am against unjust wars and unnecessary invasions by the US, esp. into weaker and smaller counties, from Vietnam to Iraq to Libya. If there is to be a war or invasion by the US, I would like it to be conducted in a democratic way.
THE PROBLEM – TOO MANY WARS
US have fought many wars. (Timeline of United States military operations
Wars are costly. The war against Osama bin Laden alone costs trillions. (The Cost of Bin Laden: $3 Trillion Over 15 Years, Atlantic, May 7, 2011.) The war with Libya is costing the us close to a billion) (“Cost of Libya war for US at $608 million: Pentagon,” AFP, April 11, 2011)
Wars are wasteful. They kills people, damages properties and cost money. What do we get for destroying Libya's infrastructure? Or for the matter, killing scores of innocent Iraqis? Both countries are not likely, if ever, to change to be a democratic state, or transformed culturally.
List of countries US invaded include (1890 to 2011) (Dr. Zoltan Grossman, A CENTURY OF U.S. MILITARY INTERVENTIONS, http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/interventions.html:
COUNTRY OR STATE Dates of intervention Forces Comments
SOUTH DAKOTA 1890 (-?) Troops 300 Lakota Indians massacred at Wounded Knee.
ARGENTINA 1890 Troops Buenos Aires interests protected.
CHILE 1891 Troops Marines clash with nationalist rebels.
HAITI 1891 Troops Black revolt on Navassa defeated.
IDAHO 1892 Troops Army suppresses silver miners' strike.
HAWAII 1893 (-?) Naval, troops Independent kingdom overthrown, annexed.
CHICAGO 1894 Troops Breaking of rail strike, 34 killed.
NICARAGUA 1894 Troops Month-long occupation of Bluefields.
CHINA 1894-95 Naval, troops Marines land in Sino-Japanese War
KOREA 1894-96 Troops Marines kept in Seoul during war.
PANAMA 1895 Troops, naval Marines land in Colombian province.
NICARAGUA 1896 Troops Marines land in port of Corinto.
CHINA 1898-1900 Troops Boxer Rebellion fought by foreign armies.
PHILIPPINES 1898-1910 (-?) Naval, troops Seized from Spain, killed 600,000 Filipinos
CUBA 1898-1902 (-?) Naval, troops Seized from Spain, still hold Navy base.
PUERTO RICO 1898 (-?) Naval, troops Seized from Spain, occupation continues.
GUAM 1898 (-?) Naval, troops Seized from Spain, still use as base.
MINNESOTA 1898 (-?) Troops Army battles Chippewa at Leech Lake.
NICARAGUA 1898 Troops Marines land at port of San Juan del Sur.
SAMOA 1899 (-?) Troops Battle over succession to throne.
NICARAGUA 1899 Troops Marines land at port of Bluefields.
IDAHO 1899-1901 Troops Army occupies Coeur d'Alene mining region.
OKLAHOMA 1901 Troops Army battles Creek Indian revolt.
PANAMA 1901-14 Naval, troops Broke off from Colombia 1903, annexed Canal Zone; Opened canal 1914.
HONDURAS 1903 Troops Marines intervene in revolution.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 1903-04 Troops U.S. interests protected in Revolution.
KOREA 1904-05 Troops Marines land in Russo-Japanese War.
CUBA 1906-09 Troops Marines land in democratic election.
NICARAGUA 1907 Troops "Dollar Diplomacy" protectorate set up.
HONDURAS 1907 Troops Marines land during war with Nicaragua
PANAMA 1908 Troops Marines intervene in election contest.
NICARAGUA 1910 Troops Marines land in Bluefields and Corinto.
HONDURAS 1911 Troops U.S. interests protected in civil war.
CHINA 1911-41 Naval, troops Continuous occupation with flare-ups.
CUBA 1912 Troops U.S. interests protected in civil war.
PANAMA 1912 Troops Marines land during heated election.
HONDURAS 1912 Troops Marines protect U.S. economic interests.
NICARAGUA 1912-33 Troops, bombing 10-year occupation, fought guerillas
MEXICO 1913 Naval Americans evacuated during revolution.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 1914 Naval Fight with rebels over Santo Domingo.
COLORADO 1914 Troops Breaking of miners' strike by Army.
MEXICO 1914-18 Naval, troops Series of interventions against nationalists.
HAITI 1914-34 Troops, bombing 19-year occupation after revolts.
TEXAS 1915 Troops Federal soldiers crush "Plan of San Diego" Mexican-American rebellion
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 1916-24 Troops 8-year Marine occupation.
CUBA 1917-33 Troops Military occupation, economic protectorate.
WORLD WAR I 1917-18 Naval, troops Ships sunk, fought Germany for 1 1/2 years.
RUSSIA 1918-22 Naval, troops Five landings to fight Bolsheviks
PANAMA 1918-20 Troops "Police duty" during unrest after elections.
HONDURAS 1919 Troops Marines land during election campaign.
YUGOSLAVIA 1919 Troops/Marines intervene for Italy against Serbs in Dalmatia.
GUATEMALA 1920 Troops 2-week intervention against unionists.
WEST VIRGINIA 1920-21 Troops, bombing Army intervenes against mineworkers.
TURKEY 1922 Troops Fought nationalists in Smyrna.
CHINA 1922-27 Naval, troops Deployment during nationalist revolt.
HONDURAS 1924-25 Troops Landed twice during election strife.
PANAMA 1925 Troops Marines suppress general strike.
CHINA 1927-34 Troops Marines stationed throughout the country.
EL SALVADOR 1932 Naval Warships send during Marti revolt.
WASHINGTON DC 1932 Troops Army stops WWI vet bonus protest.
WORLD WAR II 1941-45 Naval, troops, bombing, nuclear Hawaii bombed, fought Japan, Italy and Germany for 3 years; first nuclear war.
DETROIT 1943 Troops Army put down Black rebellion.
IRAN 1946 Nuclear threat Soviet troops told to leave north.
YUGOSLAVIA 1946 Nuclear threat, naval Response to shoot-down of US plane.
URUGUAY 1947 Nuclear threat Bombers deployed as show of strength.
GREECE 1947-49 Command operation U.S. directs extreme-right in civil war.
GERMANY 1948 Nuclear Threat Atomic-capable bombers guard Berlin Airlift.
CHINA 1948-49 Troops/Marines evacuate Americans before Communist victory.
PHILIPPINES 1948-54 Command operation CIA directs war against Huk Rebellion.
PUERTO RICO 1950 Command operation Independence rebellion crushed in Ponce.
KOREA 1951-53 (-?) Troops, naval, bombing , nuclear threats U.S./So. Korea fights China/No. Korea to stalemate; A-bomb threat in 1950, and against China in 1953. Still have bases.
IRAN 1953 Command Operation CIA overthrows democracy, installs Shah.
VIETNAM 1954 Nuclear threat French offered bombs to use against seige.
GUATEMALA 1954 Command operation, bombing, nuclear threat CIA directs exile invasion after new gov't nationalized U.S. company lands; bombers based in Nicaragua.
EGYPT 1956 Nuclear threat, troops Soviets told to keep out of Suez crisis; Marines evacuate foreigners.
LEBANON l958 Troops, naval Marine occupation against rebels.
IRAQ 1958 Nuclear threat Iraq warned against invading Kuwait.
CHINA l958 Nuclear threat China told not to move on Taiwan isles.
PANAMA 1958 Troops Flag protests erupt into confrontation.
VIETNAM l960-75 Troops, naval, bombing, nuclear threats Fought South Vietnam revolt & North Vietnam; one million killed in longest U.S. war; atomic bomb threats in l968 and l969.
CUBA l961 Command operation CIA-directed exile invasion fails.
GERMANY l961 Nuclear threat Alert during Berlin Wall crisis.
LAOS 1962 Command operation Military buildup during guerrilla war.
CUBA l962 Nuclear threat, naval Blockade during missile crisis; near-war with Soviet Union.
IRAQ 1963 Command operation CIA organizes coup that killed president, brings Ba'ath Party to power, and Saddam Hussein back from exile to be head of the secret service.
PANAMA l964 Troops Panamanians shot for urging canal's return.
INDONESIA l965 Command operation Million killed in CIA-assisted army coup.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 1965-66 Troops, bombing Marines land during election campaign.
GUATEMALA l966-67 Command operation Green Berets intervene against rebels.
DETROIT l967 Troops Army battles African Americans, 43 killed.
UNITED STATES l968 Troops After King is shot; over 21,000 soldiers in cities.
CAMBODIA l969-75 Bombing, troops, naval Up to 2 million killed in decade of bombing, starvation, and political chaos.
OMAN l970 Command operation U.S. directs Iranian marine invasion.
LAOS l971-73 Command operation, bombing U.S. directs South Vietnamese invasion; "carpet-bombs" countryside.
SOUTH DAKOTA l973 Command operation Army directs Wounded Knee siege of Lakotas.
MIDEAST 1973 Nuclear threat World-wide alert during Mideast War.
CHILE 1973 Command operation CIA-backed coup ousts elected marxist president.
CAMBODIA l975 Troops, bombing Gas captured ship, 28 die in copter crash.
ANGOLA l976-92 Command operation CIA assists South African-backed rebels.
IRAN l980 Troops, nuclear threat, aborted bombing Raid to rescue Embassy hostages; 8 troops die in copter-plane crash. Soviets warned not to get involved in revolution.
LIBYA l981 Naval jets Two Libyan jets shot down in maneuvers.
EL SALVADOR l981-92 Command operation, troops Advisors, overflights aid anti-rebel war, soldiers briefly involved in hostage clash.
NICARAGUA l981-90 Command operation, naval CIA directs exile (Contra) invasions, plants harbor mines against revolution.
LEBANON l982-84 Naval, bombing, troops Marines expel PLO and back Phalangists, Navy bombs and shells Muslim positions.
GRENADA l983-84 Troops, bombing Invasion four years after revolution.
HONDURAS l983-89 Troops Maneuvers help build bases near borders.
IRAN l984 Jets Two Iranian jets shot down over Persian Gulf.
LIBYA l986 Bombing, naval Air strikes to topple nationalist gov't.
BOLIVIA 1986 Troops Army assists raids on cocaine region.
IRAN l987-88 Naval, bombing US intervenes on side of Iraq in war.
LIBYA 1989 Naval jets Two Libyan jets shot down.
VIRGIN ISLANDS 1989 Troops St. Croix Black unrest after storm.
PHILIPPINES 1989 Jets Air cover provided for government against coup.
PANAMA 1989 (-?) Troops, bombing Nationalist government ousted by 27,000 soldiers, leaders arrested, 2000+ killed.
LIBERIA 1990 Troops Foreigners evacuated during civil war.
SAUDI ARABIA 1990-91 Troops, jets Iraq countered after invading Kuwait. 540,000 troops also stationed in Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Israel.
IRAQ 1990-91 Bombing, troops, naval Blockade of Iraqi and Jordanian ports, air strikes; 200,000+ killed in invasion of Iraq and Kuwait; large-scale destruction of Iraqi military.
KUWAIT 1991 Naval, bombing, troops Kuwait royal family returned to throne.
IRAQ 1991-2003 Bombing, naval No-fly zone over Kurdish north, Shiite south; constant air strikes and naval-enforced economic sanctions
LOS ANGELES 1992 Troops Army, Marines deployed against anti-police uprising.
SOMALIA 1992-94 Troops, naval, bombing U.S.-led United Nations occupation during civil war; raids against one Mogadishu faction.
YUGOSLAVIA 1992-94 Naval NATO blockade of Serbia and Montenegro.
BOSNIA 1993-? Jets, bombing No-fly zone patrolled in civil war; downed jets, bombed Serbs.
HAITI 1994 Troops, naval Blockade against military government; troops restore President Aristide to office three years after coup.
ZAIRE (CONGO) 1996-97 Troops Marines at Rwandan Hutu refugee camps, in area where Congo revolution begins.
LIBERIA 1997 Troops Soldiers under fire during evacuation of foreigners.
ALBANIA 1997 Troops Soldiers under fire during evacuation of foreigners.
SUDAN 1998 Missiles Attack on pharmaceutical plant alleged to be "terrorist" nerve gas plant.
AFGHANISTAN 1998 Missiles Attack on former CIA training camps used by Islamic fundamentalist groups alleged to have attacked embassies.
IRAQ 1998 Bombing, Missiles Four days of intensive air strikes after weapons inspectors allege Iraqi obstructions.
YUGOSLAVIA 1999 Bombing, Missiles Heavy NATO air strikes after Serbia declines to withdraw from Kosovo. NATO occupation of Kosovo.
YEMEN 2000 Naval USS Cole, docked in Aden, bombed.
MACEDONIA 2001 Troops NATO forces deployed to move and disarm Albanian rebels.
UNITED STATES 2001 Jets, naval Reaction to hijacker attacks on New York, DC
AFGHANISTAN 2001-? Troops, bombing, missiles Massive U.S. mobilization to overthrow Taliban, hunt Al Qaeda fighters, install Karzai regime, and battle Taliban insurgency. More than 30,000 U.S. troops and numerous private security contractors carry our occupation.
YEMEN 2002 Missiles Predator drone missile attack on Al Qaeda, including a US citizen.
PHILIPPINES 2002-? Troops, naval Training mission for Philippine military fighting Abu Sayyaf rebels evolves into combat missions in Sulu Archipelago, west of Mindanao.
COLOMBIA 2003-? Troops US special forces sent to rebel zone to back up Colombian military protecting oil pipeline.
IRAQ 2003-? Troops, naval, bombing, missiles Saddam regime toppled in Baghdad. More than 250,000 U.S. personnel participate in invasion. US and UK forces occupy country and battle Sunni and Shi'ite insurgencies. More than 160,000 troops and numerous private contractors carry out occupation and build large permanent bases.
LIBERIA 2003 Troops Brief involvement in peacekeeping force as rebels drove out leader.
HAITI 2004-05 Troops, naval Marines land after right-wing rebels oust elected President Aristide, who was advised to leave by Washington.
PAKISTAN 2005-? Missiles, bombing, covert operation CIA missile and air strikes and Special Forces raids on alleged Al Qaeda and Taliban refuge villages kill multiple civilians. Drone attacks also on Pakistani Mehsud network.
SOMALIA 2006-? Missiles, naval, troops, command operation Special Forces advise Ethiopian invasion that topples Islamist government; AC-130 strikes, Cruise missile attacks and helicopter raids against Islamist rebels; naval blockade against "pirates" and insurgents.
SYRIA 2008 Troops Special Forces in helicopter raid 5 miles from Iraq kill 8 Syrian civilians
YEMEN 2009-? Missiles, command operation Cruise missile attack on Al Qaeda kills 49 civilians; Yemeni military assaults on rebels
LIBYA 2011-? Bombing, missiles, command operation NATO coordinates air strikes and missile attacks against Qaddafi government during uprising by rebel army.
NOTES: Does mot include:
• Mobilization of the National Guard
• offshore shows of naval strength
• reinforcements of embassy personnel
• the use of non-Defense Department personnel (such as the Drug Enforcement Administration)
• military exercises
• non-combat mobilizations (such as replacing postal strikers)
• the permanent stationing of armed forces
• covert actions where the U.S. did not play a command and control role
• the use of small hostage rescue units
• most uses of proxy troops
• U.S. piloting of foreign warplanes
• foreign or domestic disaster assistance
• military training and advisory programs not involving direct combat
• civic action programs
• and many other military activities.
How can we stop US from going to war? A blogger has suggested the following (Is America the world's bully? May 1, 2005
1. Do not appoint a bully (John Bolton) as ambassador to the U.N. That's just stupid.
2. Stop invading, bombing and 'regime changing' small countries that have not attacked us or invaded their neighbors.
3. Join the international community as one member of the family of nations, rather than as the biggest bully.
4. Dismantle our global military empire, withdrawing our troops from other countries and giving up the notion that we should exert military control of the entire world.
5. With some of the money saved on the military, put our expansionist energy into large scale colonization of space. Compared to controlling the Earth, space offers hundreds of times more real estate, thousands of times more materials, and millions of times more energy. Vigorous colonization of space promises far more power than military domination of Earth. Space colonization also does not invovling killing or oppressing people, or deciding what regime they shall have. See http://lifesci3.arc.nasa.gov/SpaceSettlement for details.
It won't be easy and it will take a long time. The alternative is greater and greater military expenditure trying to run everything. This will eventually fail and we will suffer the same fate as past international bullies. Christ once said something like "Those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword." I'm not a Christian, but you gotta respect a guy with that kind of insight. Perhaps we should listen.
DEMOCRATIC WAY TO CONTROL WAR
We can reduce the incident of US foreign wars and invasions of other countries by amending the US Constitution in the following ways:
(1) US will not go to war unless US is physically attacked. REASON: This makes war justifiable, at least staying away from unwarranted wars.
(2) US will not go to war unless there is a referendum on war (when US spend over 100 millions on military operations overseas). This can be done by giving the taxpayers an affirmative choice of NOT using their tax dollars on any ONE item of federal expenditure they disapprove. (The taxpayers must pay the same tax.)REASON: This makes war democratic. No taxation without representation.
(3) US will not go to war unless the Vice President serves in the war zone. REASON: The executive branch must lead in battle, per spirit of US Constitution, and military doctrine.
(4) US will not go to war unless the 25% of the elected officials who voted for the war (selected by random) are deployed to the frontline for at least a year. REASON: The representatives of the people must not only decide to go to war, but serve in war. They them know what war is like. The elected officials must also make sacrifice, if the war is just and necessary.
(5) US will not go to war unless all the eligible elected officials’ children are drafted. REASON: The Congress must not only send other people’s kids to war, and not their own.
(6) US will not go to war unless US pay compensation to all civilians killed and property damaged as a result of US war actions, whether they are intentional, accidental or collateral. US will pay the same amount we would have to pay if the war in conducted on US soil. REASON: US must pay the costs of war, with money, not words of condolences. (“US regret the killing of innocent life in war due to collateral damages.”)
The above proposals are based on one simple principle: when US decides to go to war, the decision must be made carefully, such that the costs of war are equally distributed and personally felt.
MYTH OF DEMOCRATIC ACCOUNTABILITY?
One caveat before I end. There is a myth that democratic government can do no wrong. I do not subscribe to that view. Democratic governance, good or bad, ultimately depends on the collective wisdom of the people. For example, if the people of a country is ill informed then the nation's choice of going to war is not likely to be enlightened.
There are increase evidence that the reason why US (as the world's leading democracy) has been able to start wars year in year out is because:
(1) The people do not know any better, the ignorant mas thesis. This is the case with Bush's war in Iraq. Since the people do not have to pay for the war (Iraq was fought with borrowed money, chiefly from China and Japan) or fight in the war (many of the soldiers are foreign nations and more than a few are mercenaries (private contractors), the costs of war are borne by the next generation, in higher taxes, lower standard of living and broken families.
(2) The people do not care as much. Since the war is fought on TV in a foreign land, not on the main streets of USA. People are not vested, materially and emotionally. Iraq to many is just a war game. The apathy thesis.
(3) People are adversarial and violent prone. American people love a good fight. They enjoy settling scores through physical fights. They adore action heroes. The violent culture thesis.
Simply put, democracy does not necessarily mean less war!
Hopefully, my proposition of Constitutional amendments would put a barrier between ignorant, apathetic, and belligerent people in check.