Afghan War Now 15 Years Old

Afghan War Now 15 Years Old 

by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

In a recent posting by the Ron Paul Institute, Dr. Paul pointed out that 15 years have now passed since American forces were first sent to Afghanistan. The operation has become “the longest war in U.S. history,” the former Texas congressman noted. He concluded that there were no victory parades because there is no victory.

American troops were first sent to Afghanistan after the devastating 9/11 attacks. Why has this mission become so lengthy? (image from Flickr)

American troops were first sent to Afghanistan after the devastating 9/11 attacks. Why has this mission become so lengthy? Photo from Flickr.

Troops were first sent to Afghanistan a few weeks after the devastating 9/11 attacks on our nation. Their original mission called for apprehending Osama bin Laden. Thought to be hiding in Afghanistan, bin Laden was discovered years later in Pakistan where he was killed during a Navy Seal team raid. The main target of the U.S. forces from the beginning, however, was the Taliban, the militant Islamic group that had actually been supplied by the U.S. during the 1979-1989 Soviet invasion of the war-torn nation.

Once in Afghanistan, U.S. troops found themselves battling against an enemy using left over U.S.-supplied weaponry. The casualty totals show that our nation has suffered the loss of more than 2,300 killed and almost 23,000 wounded in the 15-year struggle. And the Taliban now controls more of the country than it did when the U.S. forces arrived in 2001 under the label “Operation Enduring Freedom.”

The U.S. media never discusses the little-publicized influence of the United Nations in this ongoing debacle. That is key to understanding the disappointing results of this lengthy mission. In December 2001, the UN Security Council created the International Security Assistance Force to aid the Afghan government. The U.S. supplied most of the troops to carry out this mission. So, from the very beginning of the operation, the UN has had a major role in the effort. Fewer than two years later (September 2003), the task of aiding the Afghan government was formally turned over to NATO. But NATO is a UN “Regional Alliance” formed under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. America’s participation in this skirmish has been directed by the UN throughout the entire 15 years.

The Taliban now controls more of Afghanistan than it did when U.S. forces entered the country 15 years ago. The various tasks given to U.S. troops have included destroying the country’s opium production, engaging in reconstruction of war-torn infrastructure, and training local forces. Some of those local forces have turned their guns on their U.S. trainers with deadly consequences.

If the UN’s NATO weren’t managing this curious war, America’s forces would likely have cleared the country of Taliban dominance years ago. Obviously that’s not what the UN wants. Governments, even the UN, always grow and become more influential during a war. America’s leaders, both political and military, who put up with this are betraying their oaths and putting good men (and some good women) in impossible circumstances.

There are many solid reasons why the U.S. should withdraw completely from the United Nations. The experience already suffered in Afghanistan certainly provides one. Members of Congress should be proclaiming loudly and clearly the slogan, “Get US out! of the United Nations.” Members of the House should be persuaded to co-sponsor H.R. 1205, the bill calling for U.S. withdrawal from the world body. U.S. forces should never be sent into a battle without victory being the goal. Anything less is a betrayal of the troops and even of the nation.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Another Turkey Coup Attempt: Will it Affect Us?

Another Turkey Coup Attempt: Will it Affect Us?
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

The nation of Turkey sits in Western Asia. That is, most of it. A small part of Istanbul, the great city in Western Turkey (formerly Constantinople), can be found across the Bosphorus Strait that separates Asia from Europe. This European portion of Turkey (a mere three percent of the nation’s land area) is geographically and even culturally part of Europe.

A charter member of the United Nations (membership since 1945), Turkey also became a member of the NATO alliance as far back as 1952. A huge U.S. air base sits in the Asian part of the nation. In addition, Turkey has applied for membership in the European Union. Therefore, what happens in Turkey is of great concern to the West, certainly including the United States.

Turkey has experienced several coup attempts in recent years (1960, 1971, and 1980). Each failed and each sought to increase the secularization of the nation. The latest attempted coup d’état during July 15-16 failed almost immediately. After a surprising absence in the early hours of the plot, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emerged and reasserted control. Immediately, the government forces captured several thousand military personnel along with an equal number of judges. Some commentators labeled the coup a failure through ineptitude. But others have speculated that Erdogan engineered the short-lived event in order to centralize and increase his power.

Turkey is at least 95 percent Muslim; some claim that the figure should be 99 percent.  Without doubt, yearning exists among a small percentage of the people for a more Westernized style of living. But Islam rules, not as strictly as in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and elsewhere, but a dominant force nevertheless. Erdogan himself is a relatively strict follower of Mohammed. Suspicion has arisen that he engineered the plot so it would quickly fail and, while being put down, provide him an opportunity to increase his power and send a message throughout the nation not only that he is solidly in control, but that Islam and many of its controlling strictures would continue to prevail, even grow tighter.

Over the years, military forces within Turkey have become a sort of watchdog or guardian of a partial secularization of the nation. Hence, a more committed Muslim such as Erdogan would surely seize any opportunity to water down, even eliminate, such a challenge to Islam’s power. Ergodan’s allies have claimed that Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania, engineered the coup. Gulen immediately denied having any role whatsoever. But Ergodan has asked the U.S. to extradite Gulen to face charges back in Turkey. Is such a request real? Or has it emerged to help cover up Ergodan’s creation of the now-failed plot that will undoubtedly result in an increase in his power and more dominance by Islam.

Three years ago in Egypt, the military rose up and, in a lightning coup d’état, deposed elected president Mohammed Morsi, a strict follower of Islam. That country went from rule by increasingly dominant Islamists to a more westernized secularism under the generals. Turkey seems to have undergone exactly the opposite transition as a result of the recent coup attempt. How Erdogan deals with the judges and military personnel he has in custody will indicate how deeply Islam will rule in the future. Meanwhile, ISIS in next-door Syria and Iraq looks northward to Turkey to see if help in achieving its draconian goals will be forthcoming from its nearest neighbor.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Trump, War, and the Constitution

Trump, War, and the Constitution
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Donald Trump’s recent criticism of NATO includes wanting the pact “rejiggered” and “changed for the better.” He insisted that the U.S. is “spending too much” and “some countries are getting a free ride.” Calling the alliance “obsolete,” he recommended adding “different nations“ because there are “nations that aren’t in NATO and are very much into the world of terror.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Knotted Gun sculpture displayed outside of the United Nations Headquarters (Image from NATO Flickr).

Much of what Trump offered deserved the attention he created. But he seems unaware of the pact’s real purpose, something that can be gleaned from a hard look at its history.

Launched as a treaty in 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was sold to the Senate and the American people as a military alliance designed to thwart further conquests by the USSR that had already swallowed up the many nations in eastern and central Europe. There was, however, a hugely important purpose behind creation of the pact. Secretary of State Dean Acheson noted this in a March 19, 1945 speech revealing that NATO was totally “subject to the overriding provisions of the United Nations Charter,” and that it was “an essential measure for strengthening the United Nations.” In fact, NATO’s brief charter containing a preamble and a mere 14 articles mentions the United Nations in five separate places.

Begun with 12 member nations but now including more than two dozen, NATO is actually a UN “regional arrangement” authorized by Articles 52-54 of the UN Charter. Article 53 states that nothing it does can be undertaken “without authorization of the [UN] Security Council” which “shall at all times be kept fully informed of activities undertaken or in contemplation” by members of the alliance.

On June 25, 1950, Communist North Korean forces invaded South Korea. Two days later, the UN Security Council issued a resolution calling on member nations to aid South Korea. President Harry Truman responded in a matter of days by ordering U.S. forces to Korea and, when pressed by several U.S. senators to explain how he could so without the required congressional declaration of war, he said it wasn’t war but “a police action.” He added that if he could send troops to NATO (which he had done), he could send troops to Korea. Thus ended the requirement for a declaration of war before sending our nation’s forces into conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. NATO and the UN have overridden the U.S. Constitution.

All military actions taken or contemplated by NATO and its twin SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, created in 1954) had to be authorized and reported to the UN. Victory ceased to be the result of U.S. action – in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Control of U.S. military action was no longer held by Americans but by the anti-American United Nations. Restrictions on military activity became the norm and the actual “rules of engagement” directing the Vietnam conflict were unearthed by Senator Barry Goldwater and published in the Congressional Record during March 1985.

Beginning with NATO in 1949 and continuing during all subsequent years, America lost control of its military. And the U.S. Constitution’s clear requirement for a declaration of war before sending forces into battle has been superseded. Through NATO and its twin SEATO (no longer in existence), the UN now directs our nation’s military arm. Wars aren’t won but are dragged out as in Korea (a conflict never settled with a state of war still in existence) and in Afghanistan where U.S. forces have labored in a restricted manner since 2001.

NATO doesn’t need to be “rejiggered” or changed. What is needed is U.S. withdrawal from it and from its United Nations parent. The United States must again become the sole master of its fate.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Neocon Lindsey Graham Calls For Bypassing the Constitution

Neocon Lindsey Graham Calls For Bypassing the Constitution
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham parades as a conservative. But he and his ideological confrere, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, are neoconservatives. The distinction is important because neoconservatism has become a dominant force among many elected officials and media pundits.

What is neoconservatism? The man who always claimed to be the “godfather” of the movement is Irving Kristol. In his 1995 book Neonconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea, he wrote, “We accepted the New Deal in principle, and had little affection for the kind of isolationism that then permeated American conservatism.” He also bared the roots of his political and economic preferences when he additionally stated, “I regard myself as lucky to have been a young Trotskyite and I have not a single bitter memory.” So, he wanted the socialism desired by FDR’s New Deal and the U.S. to be the policeman of the world on the way to world government.

The Leon Trotsky he lauded partnered with Lenin in the takeover of Russia in 1917. A few years later after Lenin died and Stalin emerged as the top criminal, Trotsky fled for his life. The two had split because Stalin favored head cracking and gulags while Trotsky wanted to impose Marxist socialism slowly and patiently. His technique called for propagandizing people into choosing it. Both shared the ultimate goal of a tyrannical world government and differed only in how to obtain it.

So, a neoconservative advocates big government socialism and worldwide internationalism via undeclared wars and entangling pacts. Neocon Charles Krauthammer boldly spelled out these goals in a 1989 article appearing in Kristol’s journal, The National Interest. He advocated U.S. integration with other nations to create a “super-sovereign” entity that is “economically, culturally, and politically hegemonic in the world.” His ultimate goal called for a “new universalism [which] would require the conscious depreciation not only of American sovereignty but of the notion of sovereignty in general.”

Neoconservatives love war. Not the kind authorized by a congressional declaration that might result in a quick victory and the troops coming home, but a conflict started by presidential mandate with full authorization supplied by the United Nations or its NATO subsidiary. As Senator Graham stated in a recent Capitol Hill press conference, he wants the president given a green light for another undeclared war: “I agree with the president that Congress should act regarding giving him the authority to fight ISIL.”

War without the constitutional requirement for a formal congressional declaration has been our nation’s policy since World War II. Our forces haven’t won a war since that struggle because they have been hamstrung by rules imposed by the UN, NATO, or presidential dictate. The U.S. never lost a war until our leaders departed from formally issuing a required declaration. Congress, which should have insisted on adherence to the Constitution, lamely tolerated stalemates or losses in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and now in Afghanistan. If U.S. forces are to be employed to defeat ISIS (or ISIL), there should be a declaration of war, not a presidential dictate.

Neocon Lindsey Graham swore an oath to the Constitution, not to presidential power. He violated that oath when he supported granting President Obama trade promotion authority, the power to entangle the U.S. in sovereignty-compromising deals with the European Union and Pacific nations. He also voted for reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, raising the national debt ceiling, and supplying another trillion dollars to fund socialistic agencies of the federal government. And that’s just some of his record over the past year. Check out his voting adherence to the Constitution as calculated by the Freedom Index.

Not alone in what he supports, Senator Graham has become an outspoken leader of the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party. He supports going to war without a required declaration, entangling the U.S. in the UN and harmful trade pacts, and backing continuation and expansion of federally imposed socialism. This isn’t conservatism; it’s neoconservatism. And it’s terribly bad for our country.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


NATO: A Military Entangling Alliance

NATO: A Military Entangling Alliance
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

On February 10, 2016, defense ministers from the 28 member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) met in Brussels at the organization’s headquarters. NATO Secretary General, Norway’s Jens Stoltenberg, announced unanimous approval of a plan to beef up the alliance’s presence in Eastern Europe.

The Constitution does not permit our nation to be the “policemen of the world.” And NATO, sold as something other than what its creators really wanted, is an entangling alliance the U.S. should leave.

One day later, Stoltenberg revealed that participants in the alliance agreed to deploy ships in the Aegean Sea to aid refugees fleeing from war-torn Syria. He anxiously told reporters that the new mission was “not about stopping or pushing back refugee boats.” It was a humanitarian venture.

Asked about U.S. participation in the new mission, American General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, said that he and his staff would be figuring out how to accomplish the task before them. Breedlove said, “This mission has literally come together in the last 20 hours, and I have been tasked to go back and define the mission. We had some very rapid decision making, and now to go out and do some military work.”

It all sounds very nice. Humanitarian needs arise and people work together to keep desperate refugees from harm, even from losing their lives in rickety boats and rafts. But there’s another issue that no one seems willing to discuss. We think it’s worth mentioning. It is that U.S. forces are being directed by other than U.S. superiors. They should not be ordered here or there by other than America’s leaders.

Created in 1949, NATO was sold to the Congress and the American people as a military force able to block any additional conquests of the Soviet Union. Its real purpose was to place the forces of several nations under United Nations control. From its outset, the alliance has derived its legitimacy from Articles 51-54 of the United Nations Charter. It is and always has been a UN “regional arrangement”, a UN subsidiary.

The action noted above includes a General of the United States Air Force receiving his orders from a Norwegian politician. Sadly, no one other than ourselves wants to point this out. Not only will U.S. forces under General Breedlove be carrying out a mission assigned to them by Jens Stoltenberg, other U.S. forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere follow orders issued ultimately by other foreign military and civilian officials.

The issue we raise is not whether someone who has the ability to do so should take on the responsibility of rescuing or guiding desperate refugees fleeing the horrors of war in their homelands. The issue is that, if American forces are employed in carrying out such a mission, their leaders should be Americans. And whatever mission they undertake should fall within the legitimate parameters contained in the U.S. Constitution and congressional action in accord with the Constitution. Placing American military personnel under the command of anyone but an American leader is a betrayal of their intent to serve our nation. If some wish to be policemen of the world, they should turn in their uniform and find some other way to do their will.

America’s forces are currently serving in 130+ separate nations. Various alliances and commitments, NATO being the most obvious, have given a green light for U.S. forces to be involved in just about every spat large or small. The Constitution does not permit our nation to be the “policemen of the world.” And NATO, sold as something other than what its creators really wanted, is an entangling alliance the U.S. should leave.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


UN Power Grows Like a Thief in the Night

UN Power Grows Like a Thief in the Night
by JBS President John F. McManus

For many years, U.S. leaders have been transferring our nation’s independence to the United Nations. Their goal, and certainly the goal of the UN’s founders and current leaders, is a world government dominating the planet. If the process continues, nations will continue to exist but only on paper. All power will have been ceded to the “House that Hiss built” (Alger Hiss being the traitorous American correctly cited as the most important founder of the world body).

Learn more about the United Nations at our Get US Out! of the United Nations Action Project page.

When President Obama decided to unleash American war planes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria (and create a new war for our country), he didn’t ask Congress for a formal declaration of war as called for by the U.S. Constitution. He completely bypassed Congress and pointed to the October 16, 2002 congressional authorization for war against Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Neither the fact that the Hussein government no longer exists nor the further fact that ISIS and Al Qaeda are not the same seem to matter.

Looking back to 2002 and the run up to the second war against Iraq, we see that one month prior to getting Congress to approve the action, President George W. Bush spoke at UN headquarters and formally requested Security Council authorization for the conflict he was planning.

One day after the 2003 war against Iraq began, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte informed the president of the UN Security Council via formal letter that the “actions being taken are authorized under existing Security Council Resolutions, including its resolutions 678 (1990) and 687 (1991).” Those resolutions were already more than two decades old.

Summing up: The war against ISIS, newly named “Operation Inherent Resolve” by the U.S. Defense Department, is actually authorized by United Nations Security Council resolutions issued 23 and 24 years ago. Those resolutions targeted Hussein’s Iraq which no longer exists, and the same can be said for Saddam Hussein himself. Evidently, the U.S. can go to war against anyone by referring to older UN resolutions.

There’s an important principle that all Americans should consider. It is that one seeks authorization from a superior, not an inferior. The superior in this instance is the United Nations; the inferior is the United States.

This outrageous transfer of U.S. independence to the UN didn’t begin yesterday. It started when President Harry Truman responded to a UN Security Council resolution in June 1950 and sent U.S. forces to Korea. Knowing that he lacked the required declaration of war, he termed the use of U.S. forces a “police action.” Only a few members of Congress complained that the Constitution was being ignored and our nation’s war power was being transferred to the UN.

Subsequent wars in which U.S. forces have fought and died have always included UN authorization: Vietnam War by the UN subsidiary SEATO, 1991 Iraq War by UN, 2003 Iraq War by UN, and Afghanistan War now directed by UN subsidiary NATO. There have been other lesser remembered conflicts such as those in Bosnia and Libya, each given the go-ahead by the UN’s NATO.

All of this amounts to incremental transfer of the power to make war, a fundamental mark of independence, to the world body. Like a silent but menacing thief in the night, UN power continues to grow. The only sensible solution to this enormously dangerous situation is for the U.S. to withdraw from the United Nations. The sooner , the better. Let Congress know.


Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.


Are Ukraine’s Russian Separatists Being Abandoned by Putin?

Are Ukraine’s Russian Separatists Being Abandoned by Putin?
by JBS President John F. McManus

The population of Eastern Ukraine bordering Russia is ethnically Russian. The same could be said of the Crimean peninsula in southeast Ukraine, the region absorbed by Russia earlier in 2014. After Russia’s successful (to date) absorption of Crimea, large Russian-speaking enclaves in other portions of the beleaguered country wanted the same absorption to occur for them.

Vladimir Putin, photo from Wikipedia.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin certainly gave the go-ahead for his forces to take Crimea, but he now seems to be backing away after initially supplying support in the bloody conflict being conducted by separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine. The Associated Press cites a pro-Russian separatist fighter in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk who wonders why expected help isn’t arriving: “What is Putin waiting for? We had hoped for help from Russia but we have been abandoned. Our strength is nearing an end and the Ukrainian army is advancing.”

Donetsk has seen 20 percent of its population of one million flee from fighting that has raged for several weeks. The ethnically Russian separatist forces have lately taken to confiscating vehicles, food, and any other useful resources from the people. But Putin seems now to have decided to ignore any more cries for help from the separatists he originally encouraged.

Without doubt, the Russian leader fomented the trouble engulfing the area. He took action after pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted by Ukrainian nationalists earlier this year. New Ukrainian leadership opposes separation of more of the country’s territory and newly elected President Petro Poroshenko even hinted at wanting to ally with Western Europe and the European Union,  and even affiliate with NATO. Fancying himself as the equal of all of his opposition to the West, Putin sought to demonstrate a self-deluding major player stature with his moves against Ukraine. He instead brought a series of economic sanctions on his country that seem to have gotten his attention.

What the immediate future will bring to Ukraine is unknown. After debacles in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan, the American people have grown intensely disinclined to have our government get militarily involved in any more frays. We can only agree with that sentiment. America’s chosen role as policeman of the world has got to stop.