Donald Sensing posits a situation that, as presented, would test elements of the Oath of Commissioning (and, the Oath of Enlistment). I have some immediate reaction to the post, but also think that this is something that all of you who have honorably served should discuss. I would point out to those who do not know that he is a retired officer. You may want to factor that into your consideration and discussion.
UPDATE: TSO is on vacation, but has given me permission to post some rough points he made via e-mail. I hope that we will get a fuller post on this once he is back in the office.
1) "he thinks he has authority as president to bomb Syria without going to Congress at all." That ship sailed a long time ago. He pretty clearly has that authority. Now, whether it is a *good* idea is open to debate, but he pretty clearly has the authority. Sensing goes on to quote whether Libya was "legal" but he uses international law and the UN as his starting point. That's a fairly novel approach for someone on the right to use. And it makes me seriously uncomfortable. If we go down that road, they we would have to seek UN approval for all things. That's a sword I'd rather not have in anyones hands.
2) "He means that even if Congress votes against authorizing the Syria war, he can still order the strikes because he didn't have to ask Congress in the first place." Didn't this already happen with regards to bombing Cambodia during Viet Nam? I'd actually have to do more research but my understanding is that it was a similar fact pattern, no? (See for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooper-Church_Amendment)
3) "I would maintain that our flag-rank military officers are duty bound to disobey those orders." Ugh. Oathkeeper stuff again. He's the Commander in Chief. I'm always reticent to join an argument that has the military deciding when it is or is not appropriate to follow orders. That kind of confusion can get people killed. Now granted, this would be easier had Congress asserted itself in the past, and required actual declarations of war, but they have completely abrogated that now, so not sure what the answer is. But, if the CinC says it's getting done, it's probably getting done. If an Officer feels he must resign his commission, he is certainly entitled to do that. But that will just mean a turn over at the top, and that is problematic. Certainly it is the persons right, but will it actually change anything?
This is one of those weird occasions I hate so much where the points I think have merit, but from a Constitutional standpoint, it seems weak to me. Syria blows and we shouldn't do shit. But the point of having a unitary executive in charge of military matters has a long standing valid basis, and it scares me a bit to mess with it simply because we don't like that CinC.
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.