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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How Anti-War Are The Presidential Candidates?

Obama was opposed to the Iraq War from the get-go and even Clinton is now talking about withdrawing our troops (someday!). One wonders, however, whether either of them (or McCain or Huckabee) would succumb to the temptation to drag the country into some other undeclared, unconstitutional, and immoral war. To get an idea on just how quick they might be to do this, it would be interesting to hear them tell us which of America's past wars they believe were justified. For instance, would they say that Mr. Lincoln's Civil War was justified?

Every schoolboy and schoolgirl "knows" that Lincoln freed the slaves and saved the Union. Doesn't that justify the Civil War? But what if what every schoolboy and schoolgirl "knows" is not actually true? As Thomas J. DiLorenzo points out, "the January 1863 Emancipation Proclamation freed no one since it specifically exempted all the areas that at the time were occupied by federal armies. That is, all areas where slaves could actually have been freed"
(http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo12.html ). And the Civil War "may have saved the Union geographically, but it destroyed it philosophically by destroying its voluntary nature" (http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo44.html).

Moreover, if George W. Bush is the "worst President in U. S. history", as we hear so often, what does that make Lincoln, who "invaded the South without the consent of Congress, as called for in the Constitution; declared martial law; blockaded Southern ports without a declaration of war, as required by the Constitution; illegally suspended the writ of habeas corpus; imprisoned without trial thousands of Northern anti-war protesters, including hundreds of newspaper editors and owners; censored all newspaper and telegraph communication; nationalized the railroads; created three new states without the consent of the citizens of those states in order to artificially inflate the Republican Party’s electoral vote; ordered Federal troops to interfere with Northern elections to assure Republican Party victories; deported Ohio Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham for opposing his domestic policies (especially protectionist tariffs and income taxation) on the floor of the House of Representatives; confiscated private property, including firearms, in violation of the Second Amendment; and effectively gutted the Tenth and Ninth Amendments as well"
(http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo12.html)?

Ron Paul is so antiwar that he openly questions the wisdom, morality, and necessity of the Civil War. In Paul's appearance on "Meet the Press" on December 23, 2007, Tim Russert asked him about his opinion on the Civil War. Paul's answer, although brief, was thoughtful and surprisingly convincing. Russert, who probably thought he was going to ensnare Paul in a "gotcha" from which there would be no escape, quickly changed the subject. Watch the video here:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=jbOE4Ip7In0.

Jim Powell extends Paul's thinking on the necessity and morality of the Civil War at some length in "Was the Civil War a Terrible Mistake?" at http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9137. In particular, he points out that blowback occurred in the case of the Civil War, too.

It would be interesting to ask Mr. Lincoln if he thought the cost of the Civil War, which so many northerners expected would be over quickly and at very little cost (perhaps they thought it too would be a "cakewalk"?) was "worth it". We know that Madeleine Albright famously stated that she thought that the 500,000 Iraqi lives taken by the Clinton-imposed sanctions were "worth it". If only someone had been able to ask Mr. Lincoln if he thought the over 600,000 lives taken by the Civil War were "worth it"!

And it would be interesting to ask Obama, Clinton, McCain, and Huckabee if they think the Civil War was necessary or moral. Beyond that, it would be interesting to ask them which of America's other wars--undeclared as well as declared--were wise, necessary, and moral. For instance, would they say that Woodrow Wilson's dragging the U. S. into The Great War "to make the world safe for democracy"
(http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig4/powell-jim5.html) was any more wise, necessary, and moral than George W. Bush's dragging the U. S. into the Iraq War to "spread democracy"?

Now that the Iraq invasion has turned into an occupation and the occupation has turned into a quagmire, even Hillary Clinton can say she's ready to withdraw our troops (someday!). But it would be nice to have a thorough understanding of the candidates' thinking on war and peace in general--not just on this particular war. For the chances are that sometime between January 20, 2009 and January 20, 2013 (or January 20, 2017) the next President will be confronted with one or more situations that could lead him or her--if he or she is not sufficiently antiwar--to drag the country into another unwise and immoral war (and perhaps an unconstitutional and illegal one, too!).

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