Mukasey wants a new war declared with the entire globe as the battlefield, including the United States. Then the president could decide who is an enemy combatant and lock them up forever without any due process. Just imagine, if you contradict the president and state that we should talk with Iran before taking any military action, you could be considered an enemy combatant and whisked away in the night.
This kind of state of war has been used in other countries to subvert any opposition and maintain control for those in power. The classic example was the Soviet Union. The Soviet leaders could arbitrarily decide who was an enemy of the people and have them arrested in the middle of the night. No one would know where they were taken or what happened to them. That is just what Bush has been doing and what Mukasey wants to continue.
Wars are declared against other countries, not just groups of people. The legal definition of “war” is, “hostile contention by means of armed forces carried on between nations, states, or rulers, or between citizens in the same nation state” (Black’s Law Dictionary). So when would this war on terror be over? Would we have won only if there are no more terrorists? Or maybe less than 50? But there could always be new terrorists so the “war” would never be over.
We are too conditioned to the word “war” to describe our social policies. Whatever happened to the “war on poverty” or the “war on drugs?” Those weren’t wars any more than stating that the entire world is at war and every nation is a battlefield.
The last time our nation was at war was World War II. Korea and Vietnam were definitely armed conflicts, but we didn’t treat them as a “war.” During World War II, our objective was to totally annihilate the opposition, be it Germany or Japan. We purposely destroyed civilian populations to force their leadership to capitulate. We firebombed Dresden and Tokyo and we dropped two atomic bombs.
During World War II, all of our resources were put toward the war effort. We rationed gas and food. We recycled needed materials and we drafted soldiers. Everyone was supportive of the war effort. That is obviously not the case now.
This “declaration of war” requested by Mukasey is nothing more than a subterfuge to further eliminate our constitutional rights. It is a tool for the administration to eliminate any opposition to its policies. It would be one of the most un-American things we could do. As stated by Thomas Jefferson, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” We need that patriotism now more than ever.
Jeff Blanck is an attorney in private practice in Reno. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.