On May 6th, 2008, Senator John McCain delivered a speech at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC on what I have believed is the most important issue facing America today - the United States Constitution and our survival as a free nation. It should be obvious to even the most casual observer today that few politicians, and apparently no one in the media today are actually paying much attention to the Constitution and even less attention to the actual constitutional, economic, terrorist and demographic threats facing the nation.
For example, since Nancy Pelosi has been Speaker of the House the Congress has passed three bills that basically ordered the Commander in Chief to withdraw U.S. Troops from Iraq. Yet, there is absolutely nothing in the U.S. Constitution that authorizes the Congress to give direct orders to the military. Once "the Army and Navy of the United States" and the "Militia of the several States," are "called into the actual Service of the United States" according to Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution, it is the President of the United States, who is the Commander in Chief of those troops. If he wants the opinion of others, the Constitution gives him the authority to "require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments," but he doesn't have to ask them or Congress where to send troops or how to use them militarily.
As president, of course, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or John McCain would have the constitutional authority to decide where the troops needed to be sent. Congress called up the troops to address the Iraq problems. The most recent of several laws on the subject is the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 which was passed by Congress in October of 2002. That law requires the president to "use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq."
Both Senator Clinton and Senator McCain voted for that resolution. Barack Obama has said he would have voted against it, as did the senior senator from Illinois, Richard Durbin, also a Democrat and now assistant majority leader of the Senate. The next president of the United States will have the authority under current law to decide whether or not our National Security is still threatened and whether or not U.S. action is still needed in Iraq.
Senator McCain, with his military background, seems to be the only one of the three who has a clear understanding of the Constitution and the duties of the president where national security is concerned. He said in his speech on the U.S. Constitution and Appointing Judges at Wake Forest University: "The framers of our Constitution had a knack for coming right to the point, and it shows in the 35-word oath that ends with a pledge to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution itself.
"This is what we require and expect of every president, no matter what the agenda or loyalties of party. All the powers of the American presidency must serve the Constitution, and thereby protect the people and their liberties. For the chief executive or any other constitutional officer, the duties and boundaries of the Constitution are not just a set of helpful suggestions. They are not just guidelines, to be observed when it's convenient and loosely interpreted when it isn't. The clear powers defined by our Constitution, and the clear limits of power, lose nothing of their relevance with time, because the dangers they guard against are found in every time."
Europe today has clearly lost its traditional leadership in world affairs. In a speech to CEOs by Herbert Meyer, who served in the Reagan administration as special assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and vice chair of the CIA's National Intelligence Council, the war in Iraq is the first of four transforming events currently taking place in the world and a critical war for us to win. He describes that war as the third major attack by Islam on Western Civilization: "Islam first attacked Western civilization in the 7th century, and later in the 16th and 17th centuries. By 1683, the Moslems (Turks from the Ottoman Empire) were literally at the gates of Vienna. It was in Vienna that the climatic battle between Islam and Western civilization took place. The West won and went forward. Islam lost and went backward. Interestingly, the date of that battle was September 11. Since then, Islam has not found a way to reconcile with the modern world.
"Today, terrorism is the third attack on Western civilization by radical Islam. To deal with terrorism, the U.S. is doing two things. First, units of our armed forces are in 30 countries around the world hunting down terrorist groups and dealing with them. This gets very little publicity.
"Second, we are taking military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. These are covered relentlessly by the media. People can argue about whether the war in Iraq is right or wrong. However, the underlying strategy behind the war is to use our military to remove the radicals from power and give the moderates a chance. Our hope is that, over time, the moderates will find a way to bring Islam forward into the 21st century. That's what our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is all about."
This understanding of the nature of the events of the 21st century, and the stakes we Americans have in those events is almost totally ignored by the media and both Democratic presidential candidates. Neither of them seems to have any understanding or interest in the historical aspects of what is occurring today. We really can no longer afford the time to make the kind of mistakes we made in the 1930s when Americans chose isolationism and allowed Hitler to seize most of Europe, which was unable to defend itself.
The situation is worse today. Europe is aging, not even producing enough children to maintain their cultures. With aging populations and few young people, dying nations have almost abandoned maintaining armies, which is why it is the American army and navy that are in the forefront of current events.
The 2008 election in which we will choose the next president, Senate and House of Representatives may very well be America's last opportunity to get it right. In this nuclear age, with our traditional allies in Europe on their last legs, and a worldwide challenge to our liberties and our faiths, and perhaps even our economy, this is not the time for the American electorate to be deceived and misled by candidates with no real leadership experience, a fuzzy idea of the ConstitutionÂ and who talk about trivia or meaningless, vague generalities.