Our Covenant

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AP Photo

Note: A lightly edited version of this piece first appeared in the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

By PHILIP C. RESTINO JR

Few decisions are more serious than the decision to send our nation’s young men and women off to kill and be killed in the name of our country.

Since it is the everyday people whose sons and daughters are sent off to war, our nation’s founding fathers made sure that the power to make war and end war rested in the hands of we the people and with that power it is we the people who bear the responsibility for their fate. A covenant has thus been made.

The founders put provisions into our Constitution to first require a Declaration of War, as voted on by Congress, before engaging in war. The Constitution also put the power of the purse into the hands of the people and, since war can only go on for as long as it is funded, it is when we the people decide that a war should end that our representatives in Congress should vote “no” to continued war funding. Sadly, too many Americans still don’t understand that it is the U.S. Constitution, to which our soldiers make their oath to support and defend — with their lives if need be — which provides for we the people to be the “deciders” and not the president or members of the military itself.

In his January 1961 farewell address, President Eisenhower warned the American people of the powerful lobbying influence on members of Congress by the military industrial complex. In the 50 years since, the ownership of the armaments industry, the banking industry, big oil and the corporate media has been consolidated into the hands of a small number of powerful interests.  Their influence on members of Congress through campaign contributions and other favors has in turn increased even more.

IPS, a news agency, reported in April 2008 that 171 members of Congress, both Democrat and Republican, had financial interests in companies profiting from the wars — something the Truman Commission during WWII considered treasonous. How do you think those members of Congress will vote on continued funding of the wars if not confronted by we the people?

We the people have a responsibility to pay attention. We made a covenant. When it becomes evident that there is not enough justification to continue a war, then it is incumbent upon us to call for our representatives in Congress to refuse the president’s request for additional war funding. For us to not do so, and therefore keep our troops engaged in war any longer than they need to be, is unconscionable.

There were no WMDs or ties to al Qaeda in Iraq, and therefore no reason to be there. Osama bin Laden is still not wanted by our FBI for the crimes of 9/11/01.

The decision to militarily attack Afghanistan before the end of October 2001 was made on Aug. 2, 2001, (five weeks before the 9/11 attacks) when the Taliban leaders rejected the U.S. State Department’s ultimatum concerning pipeline construction rights. Yet we the people to this very day allow our representatives in Congress, and the military industrial complex to which they are beholden, to keep the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan going.

Our president is currently asking for an additional $33 billion to further fund the wars. To reach your member of Congress, call 202-224-3121. Ask for him or her by name. It’s time to end the wars. We have a covenant to keep.
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– Restino of Port Orange is co-chair and a founding member of the Central Florida chapter of Veterans For Peace, working together for peace and justice through non-violence since 1985, and a member of Military Families Speak Out — Florida. For more information, visit Central Fla Vets for Peace. –

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