Unlimited Ubiquitous War

The news today says that President Obama has asked Congress to authorise war against the Islamic State.  One of the most troubling parts of the request is that it sets no geographic limits.

You remember when Obama executed an American citizen without trial? Of course, the apologists for military intervention assured us that it was completely justified. Here, for example, is the New York Times.

Perhaps my understanding of the constitution for the United States is in error. However, it was my understanding that the Bill of Rights is meant to protect American citizens, and anyone else who might be considered “the people” from execution without due process of law. Although Obama’s people seem to claim that they inadvertently slaughtered three American citizens, there is no doubt that Anwar al-Awlaki was deliberately executed by drone strike on orders from the president.

It is widely acknowledged that the evidence against al-Awlaki was never made public, although speedy and public trials are guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment. It is widely acknowledged that there was no process involving counsel for al-Awlaki, although a right to counsel is also guaranteed by that amendment. There was no jury trial, there was no opportunity to confront the witnesses against al-Awlaki, nor for him to know the crime for which he stood accused.

I don’t know what al-Awlaki did to make Obama angry enough to kill him.  And, indeed, neither do you, as you are not entitled to such top secret information.  But, I do know a bad precedent when I see one.  If an American citizen can be killed without any of the guarantees in the constitution limiting the government, then you can be killed, by that same out-of-control government, too.

Now, that same president wants authority to wage war without geographic limits. Which means that if he claims that Islamic State forces, confusingly referred to by some as “ISIS” or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and by others as “ISIL” or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, are hiding under your house, he can use a drone strike against your home. He is seeking authority to do so whether your home is in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, Russia, China, Canada, or the United States, to name only a few of the places where he would be authorised to wage war.  (I personally prefer “Islamic State” or “ISIS” to ISIL because I’ve long been fond of ISIL.org – the International Society for Individual Liberty.)

The last president to formally declare war against the American people was arguably Woodrow Wilson. Wilson’s Espionage Act of 1917 and Trading with the Enemy Act were both notorious for making individual Americans guilty of various crimes that, at first blush, appear to involve free expression. Another infamous, mass-murdering president who made war on the American people was Abraham Lincoln. Of course, since World War One, outfits like the Black Chamber, the National Security Agency, the OSS, the CIA, the FBI, and others have targeted Americans, spied upon them, lied about their behaviour, and had them killed.

War. Everywhere. Including against Americans. Still. That’s what the president of the United States is asking for Congress to authorise. None of these facts should surprise anyone.

What to do?

Many people wonder what they can do in the face of an enormous state with nearly unlimited money and power.  And, although it is clear that the state is borrowing trillions of dollars in order to continue its operations, it isn’t clear that the banking conglomerates are ever going to say “enough.”

One of the strategies that some people have adopted is to withdraw from compliance.  There is considerable evidence, including from hearings before Congress, that tens of millions of Americans do not file income tax forms in spite of the expectation by the IRS that they should do so.   The IRS used that fact to justify some of its more brutal tactics.  Since those hearings in the late 1990s, the scale of non-filing has increased dramatically.  One estimate I’ve seen has 147 million Americans who would be expected to file income tax papers not filing.  It would be challenging even for the fascist super-state that the tax-paying Americans have helped create to put 147 million people in prison.

If the idea of not participating in the system that oppresses you sounds interesting, you are not alone.  Novelists like J. Neil Schulman have written about the idea in books like his famous Alongside Night recently made into a film. Liberty enthusiast and philosopher Samuel Edward Konkin III wrote extensively on this topic, including a number of essays revealing how the Soviet Union was toppled by non-compliance amongst its people.  Even libertarian economist Murray Rothbard, who seemed to think that wages were going to remain vital forever, has indicated support for refusing to obey.

If this topic interests you, I would like to hear from you.  Even if you disagree that people can ever refuse to support the system that oppresses us, I’d like to know why you think so.  Remember, as John Tucker says in the film “Brazil,”  We’re all in this together!