Friday, October 3, 2014

Bombing ISIL: defense of or attack on democracy?

Democracy is generally considered to be a political system in which citizens share equal power in determining government policy and/or who is going to be in the government.
Now ISIL a group we did not know about three months ago, rampages thought Iraq and parts of Syria, killing innocents, beheading hostages. President Obama decides to start bombing them.
The President refuses to consult Congrees because he says, they are only bombing, there are no soldiers involved in the fighting. So it is not a war. In actual fact we are sending soldiers to Iraq to train the Iraqi army. “Well,” the White House says. “They are not shooting at anyone.” Suppose they get shot at? And anyway is training soldiers not participating in a war?
The White House is not only threatening democracy by not asking citizens, it is treating us a utter idiots. And, yes, if citizens are idiots then democracy may not be such a good idea.
You'd have to be a lawyer to take the claim that we are not starting another war seriously. Can you imagine the people on the ground saying, as the bombs rain down on them, “Thank God, this is not a war”?
The President starts an air war unilaterally. His legal staff assures him that he does not have to consult Congress.
But that is surely an insult to our democracy. It says that the President can get us involved in one more war and the people are not to be consulted, neither are their representatives.
Congress is not doing much better. Leaders of both parties have suggested Congress not talk about this latest war before the elections. Their first priority is to win the upcoming elections. But why are they so eager to get elected or reelected? They are not eager to formulate national policy on this all important issue of war or peace. They are certainly not interested in representing voters. Many people are concerned about this new war. But Congress says: “let's not talk about it.” That is hardly the ideal choice of those who want to be the peoples' representatives.
Being in Congress must be a nice job even if you don't do what people elect you for.
With the November elections looming, I get frequent messages from my Congressman asking me for money. I have not heard any questions about the new air war. The congressman wants me to help him get reelected so that he can represent me. While he is running for reelection, he cannot interest himself in what I and other constituents think on this terribly important question of war and peace. He is an exceptional Congressman and I support him gladly. But it reflects on the terrible distortions of our democracy that election campaigns are ever longer—look at Hilary running for President—and are all consuming so that our representatives cannot do the job we elect them for.
What a sorry state of affairs! This new war shows clearly the extent to which ordinary citizens have been disenfranchised.