According to a Rasmussen Reports survey, President Trump’s approval rating now stands at 48 percent, while 52 percent disapprove of his performance. And what have presidents with low approval ratings traditionally done? Start wars. However, Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) has introduced a bill that would return the power to deploy troops back to Congress, revoking Trump’s unilateral ability to dispatch the U.S. military.
In 1983, when Ronald Reagan’s approval ratings were starting to flag, he authorized an invasion of the tiny Caribbean island of Granada. His successor George H.W. Bush followed suit with his “100-hour war” with Iraq, known as “Desert Storm” in 1991. Then in 1999, then Texas Governor George W. Bush reported to journalist Mickey Herskowitz:
“One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief…My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it…If I have a chance to invade…if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”
Then came September 11, 2001, after Bush ignored repeated intelligence warnings Osama bin Laden was intent on attacking the United States. Bush’s poll numbers soared to ninety-one percent. Two years later the United States invaded Iraq, a country that had no hand in the fateful attacks, and posed no existential threat to our nation’s sovereignty. After being re-elected in 2004, Bush stood before the American people talking about earning some “political capital” he intended to use. That “political capital” was privatization of Social Security and other Republican agenda items.
“This is an initiative that has been decades in the making. It probably goes back to the early years of the Vietnam War which was an undeclared war in which 50,000 plus or minus Americans lost their lives, and since then you’ve had this poisonous dynamic which is completely inconsistent with the Constitution Article 1 which gives the power to declare war to the Congress. The president likes the authority, and you know what? The Congress would rather not take the risk of putting its name on something that could go horribly wrong, so you are where we are today. And, by the way, it’s a bipartisan issue. I woke up one weekend to discover that the Democratic president was bombing Libya without congressional authority to do so. Now, this current president is essentially making war in the Middle East.”
Himes’ bill has two goals: first, to prevent the president from deploying soldiers without a congressional declaration of war, as delineated in the Constitution; second, to require the president to “issue a report outlining the threat, the objectives and justifications of the conflict, and a description of the anticipated scope and duration of the action.”
This is more than just preemptive. President Trump is already beefing up military presence.
According to Army Times:
“The U.S. military is sending an additional 2,500 ground combat troops to a staging base in Kuwait from which they could be called upon to back up coalition forces battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.”
Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for operations, told House lawmakers Wednesday:
“So the whole brigade will now be forward.”
Earlier this month, the Pentagon submitted plans to the White House for accelerating efforts to defeat ISIS, one of President Trump’s first priorities upon taking office. Those plans are said to include operations in a number of countries, not only Iraq and Syria.
Donald Trump has been fanning anti-Islamic flames since his campaign and with the controversial Muslim ban.
On December 27, I published a piece in Liberal Nation Rising titled, “A Coming (Twitter) War With China?” in which I theorize we will come to some sort of blows with China during Trump’s tenure. Now factor in an enhanced Middle Eastern crisis and a president who doesn’t have to adhere to the Constitution through decades of political loopholes.
James Madison became our country’s first wartime president during The War of 1812, setting a precedent where no incumbent president has ever lost re-election during a time of war. I doubt Madison had any notion of using that circumstance to his advantage. No doubt Donald Trump does, though.
Featured image from YouTube video.