Ten years ago, America invaded Iraq. Historians will judge the merit of that invasion and the eight year war to follow. God will judge the morality of it and Americans will judge the fiscal responsibility of it. It is, however, the president who gets to decide how, when and why we use our warriors in defense of our nation for generations to come.
During his tenure, President Barack Obama will end two wars. In doing so, he should establish a warrior doctrine. His predecessors who governed during the end of conflict established treaties, plans, and doctrines as guideposts for both moving past war and improving international relations. This president, however, as the first to oversee a war declared not against a nation but against individual criminals, has the unique opportunity to help America establish a guidepost for modern warfare.
The most famous post war document is the Marshall Plan of 1948. It was a $13 billion plan to help Europe rebuild after World War II with a basic amount of financial security designed to allow them to reject the trappings of communism. It worked because Europe is made up of nations that are substantially, contextually similar to America. We weren't creating a new Europe. We were, in true American spirit, barn-raising with neighbors after a terrible storm.
What happens, however, when there is no nation to entrust with American support? What happens when there are only villages, tribes and sects? What happens is what is happening. America gets stuck in a quagmire of corruption, distrust, propaganda and triangulation. And warriors die. So, if President Obama wants to really build a legacy as the guy who fought for those who fought for us; he would create a 21st century war doctrine.
The first article of the President’s Warrior Doctrine should clearly articulate that all Americans are indeed created equal. Therefore, never again will Americans wage war without triggering a draft. That draft will include all Americans of a certain age with no authorized deferments. Because never again should the senator, representative or president decide to send American children into harm’s way without wondering if it was their child they are sending.
The second article of the warrior doctrine would establish that war is fully and solely the responsibility of the American people. Therefore, the article would state, never again can American borrow funds for war activities. Congress can claim the spoils of the defeated, sell war bonds, raise taxes or cut domestic expenditures but they cannot borrow against our children’s future. If it is important enough to risk American lives today, it’s important enough to pay for today.
The third article of the president’s warrior doctrine would draw an unbreakable correlation between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs budget. The president could, for good measure, through in there the Department of Labor’s Veteran Employment & Training Service, the Housing and Urban Development program for homeless veterans and the Department of Education Impact Aid for military children budgets too. Because never again should the cost of waging war be calculated without including the cost of making our warriors whole again.
The fourth and final article of the warrior doctrine should end the “you broke it, you fix it” ideology we blindly adopted since the Marshall Plan. Our warriors identify, secure and eliminate the threat. Period. They are not nation builders. We have the Department of State and the United Nations for that. Our warriors have never before, nor should they ever again be asked to leave the enemy better, stronger than they found her.
Our warriors live by a creed specific to their branch of service. Every soldier will proudly tell you “I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.” Young enlisted Marines bark out “I must give the very best I have for my Marines, my Corps and my Country for though today I instruct and supervise in peace, tomorrow, I may lead in war.” By the time boot camp is over, every airman can tell you “my mission is to fly, fight and win.” Sailors pledge to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.” Coast guardsmen sum it up beautifully when they say “I shall sell life dearly to an enemy of my country, but give it freely to rescue those in peril.”
So is it too much, after 12 years of one war and 10 of the other, to ask our president, senators and representatives live up to a creed of leadership too? A creed in which they clearly pledge to our warriors “the warriors who come behind you will never have to do this alone again. They will never do this without America’s fullest measure again. They will never have to fight for care when they return again. And, by all the powers vested in us, they will never again be sent off to seek and destroy the enemy only then to be held accountable for marshaling her back to health.”