Hope on the War Front

The people of the panhandle should be justly proud of their important role in defending our nation. All five of our armed services have missions in this area, and serving in the military is an esteemed part of thousands of local family histories.

I am not a soldier, but I can understand such pride. From my brother, who currently serves in the Army, to my grandfathers who served in the last century, I am honored to come from a long line of servicemen to the country; in fact, going all the way back to the Revolution. I deeply respect the sense of duty and commitment to the principles of our Constitution that are found in our military.

But things in the military are not as they used to be in our great Republic.

In 1776, our forefathers were fighting an imperial British occupation force in their own back yards. In 2011, our friends and loved ones are asked to fight a faceless enemy as an occupation force in foreign lands.

Why is that? America was attacked by terrorists on 9/11. The military mission was to bring to justice those who perpetrated this crime.

Osama bin Laden and his cronies are now dead. Enemy organizations have been shattered. Yet our military remains abroad, now engaged for over a decade.

The United States military now accounts for almost half of total world military spending, and is deployed in more than 150 countries around the world. During many missions, the U.S. cedes its military sovereignty to international organizations such as the UN and NATO, putting its troops under foreign commanders and foreign flags.

In an example of collateral damage, the war on terror became a pretext to expand government control, violate individual rights, and erode the Constitution at home. Since 2002 there are precedents for the assassination of U.S. citizens abroad without trial, a blatant violation of the Fifth Amendment. There are plans for virtually all travelers in our country to be routinely searched. The rule of law continues to be battered by a President who neither sought the Constitutionally-mandated approval of Congress to engage in war on Libya, nor complied with the War Powers Act passed by Congress. To cap it off, this week, the Senate is debating the National Defense Authorization Act (S.1867/H.1540) – a bill that will let the government use the military, as Congressman Justin Amash stated, to “indefinitely detain American citizens on American soil, without charge or trial, at the discretion of the President.” The House has already passed this bill.

Broad powers might not seem so bad when the custodian is someone you trust, and in the name of safety, but what happens if and when someone unchecked by conscience, the rule of law, and the Constitution takes office?

But take heart, because we are not there yet. We can still bring the troops home to reunite with their spouses, children, and families, by forcing Congress to uphold its Constitutional accountability for the wars. Our troops can rest and recuperate, in case the U.S. faced a legitimate threat, while spending their money here at home and spurring the domestic economy. We can cut the spending overseas and foreign aid by hundreds of billions of dollars per year. We can defend our own borders from illegal immigrants and Mexican drug cartel terrorists. All it takes is your voice.

America’s Founding Fathers envisioned a revolutionary ideology for the New World; one where the nation would refrain from offensive and interventionist wars, one where force would only be justified in defense against imminent attacks. Sadly, the U.S. today could not be further to the opposite side of the spectrum. Now fighting multiple wars in the Middle East with no real end in sight, the cost of incessant war is being unnecessarily paid every day with American lives and American dollars – blood and treasure.

How many veterans fought for more debt, less freedoms, and endless war?

This is not the nation America’s Founding Fathers envisioned. It is time to restore the U.S. military to its rightful place as the defender of sovereignty and beacon of liberty worldwide.

Calen Fretts is a candidate for Congress in the First District of Florida