Debate Forum Right: 4/12/11

Better 10 Years Late Than Never

By Mark Luedtke

Mark Luedtke

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Congress subsequently declared war. That’s because it was obvious the Japanese attack was an act of war. When al-Qaida attacked the US on 9/11, Congress subsequently declared war. That’s because the 9/11 attack was obviously an act of war, too.
Granted, the declaration of war had a 90-day expiration limit. Granted neither Bush nor Obama obeyed that 90-day limit. Granted, Congress didn’t hold either president accountable for illegally waging war once the legal declaration had expired. And granted, Congress continues to fund the wars despite there being no legal basis for them.
But the salient fact is Congress recognized the 9/11 attacks as an act of war and an attack on civilians. That means that the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks are war criminals and should be tried in a military court. It’s that simple.
Nearly 10 years later, that they haven’t been tried yet is a sign of how corrupt our government is. For 10 years, government has kept the American people from moving forward. For 10 years government has used the untried 9/11 conspirators to scare us into supporting war on people who didn’t attack us. These wars of aggression radicalize more Muslims and prompt more terrorist attacks against us. Our elected officials then point to these attacks as the reason they need to steal even more money from us and wage even more wars.
It’s common practice to blame the failures of government on the president. It’s human nature to point to one thing or one person and place all the blame there. But that simplistic approach to placing blame enables the people with the real power – Congress in this case – to pile on the damage. The Constitution gives Congress the power to, “… make rules concerning captures on land and water.” Unlike the power to declare war, which few members want to be on record having voted for, Congress hasn’t surrendered that power to the president. Congress has blocked the war crime trials of the 9/11 conspirators since they were captured, not the president.
It’s also easy to fall for the charade that Republicans are doing the right thing because they supported military tribunals and Democrats are not for opposing them. Neither party cares about doing the right thing. Both parties are run by crooks who earn a living by stealing from the rest of us and looking out for their own interests and the interests of their cronies. In this case, the military, the defense industry and the whole military-espionage-industrial complex are cronies of Republicans, and those cronies are empowered by military tribunals. Since politics is a zero-sum game, that means the power of Democrat special interests would be reduced by military tribunals. Republicans will gain and Democrats will lose.
This 10-year conflict over military tribunals was always politically motivated. It was never about doing the right thing. Republicans are accidentally doing the right thing because Republican special interests aligned with the law and tradition in this case.
President Obama’s decision to try the 9/11 conspirators in military tribunals isn’t such a big deal because of presidential power. Congress still has the power to continue to block those tribunals. But because he’s the leader of the Democrat party, many Democrats won’t go against him. Politics again. It’s likely enough Democrats will flip-flop to allow these tribunals to go forward. It seems that after a decade of political gamesmanship over the tribunals, government might finally allow the American people to put 9/11 behind them.
Let’s hope when that happens we’ll reevaluate our government’s policy of perpetual, expanding war in the Middle East and see it for what it is: the source of radicalization of Muslims and inspiration for terrorist attacks. Government’s propagandists tell us that Muslims are violent, and they hate us for our freedom, but there’s no basis for this claim. What nobody tells us is that our government has been initiating violence in the Middle East for nearly 70 years. Middle Eastern Muslims see that violence as a continuation of the violence that European governments initiated there for centuries. They think we’re the violent ones, and they have hundreds of thousands or more dead in the last decade to prove it.
That’s why we need to realize our government is not like us. It does not work for us. We’re good people. We work hard. We improve our lives and the lives of everybody else through trade. We believe in “live and let live.” But the people who run our government are bad people. They make a living by stealing from us. They use coercion and violence to force their will on us and everybody else in the world so their ruling class cronies don’t have to compete for resources in a free marketplace. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we can dismantle the most violent and corrupt institution ever created by man and create a safe and prosperous society.

Mark Luedtke is an electrical engineer with a degree from the University of Cincinnati and currently works for a Dayton attorney. He can be reached at MarkLuedtke@daytoncitypaper.com

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