Saturday, November 11, 2006

Honor your oath

Today is Veterans Day. We create this day for the members of the arm forces. I served in the military. I was (or am) a Marine (once a Marine, always a Marine!).

Before serving in the military, the soldier/officer must take an oath. There are two oaths; one for enlistment and the other for commissioned officers. Both have two oaths in them. The enlistment oath required the soldier to "support and defend the Constitution" and "obey the orders of the President...and...officers appointed over me". The commissioned officer's oath required the officer to "support and defend the Constitution" and "discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter".

If the orders of the president or the duties of this office comply with the Constitution, it's a no-brainer: you would follow either, or both. But what if the second oath above conflicts with the Constitution? Which oath do you want to follow? In other words, which oath takes precedence?

In the beginning of Article II of the Constitution, it states, "The executive Power shall be vested in a President". In other words, the Constitution created the office of the President. Like parents and their child, if something created something else, the creator has the power and control over the created. That is consistent with the last clause of Article II, Section 1. The President, before entering office, takes an oath: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

It is plainly to see that the Constitution takes precedence over the president, and the president, being the Commander in Chief, is above any other officers. Now, the Constitution is just a piece of paper, but if you are in the military, I highly encouraged you to read it in full as well as have a copy of the Constitution with you for you to refer. It is your orders.

So what in the Constitution does it tell the military? One thing, in Article I, Section 8, Clause 12, the Constitution states, "The Congress shall have Power...To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years." The president says the war on terrorism will be indefinitely--with more troops needed indefinitely. That means, if the soldiers will honor their oath, they would quit.

Now, the next clause states, "The Congress shall have Power...To provide and maintain a Navy", and the Marines are part of the Navy. But before the Armies clause, the Constitution states (in part), "The Congress shall have Power...To declare War". The Constitution delegates the president to be the Commander in Chief "when called into the actual Service", but the Constitution delegates Congress the power to declare war. In other words, in wartime, the president follows Congress; the president can't lead the troops into battle when Congress hasn't declared war.

Congress hasn't declared war since World War 2. Do you see what I mean?

Now, the past is the past. But, in the future, if the orders call you into battle, refuse to go unless Congress formally has a declaration of war. You'll be ridiculed. You may be facing jailtime. But you'll won't be dead fighting an illegal, unconstitutional war. Be true and honor your oath. It's the right and honorable thing to do.

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