The presidency’s progressive usurpation of congressional authorities related to war since 1950 has ushered in “interminable war-making,” Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (Ret.) said in a Wednesday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with Senior Editor-at-Large Rebecca Mansour.
Wilkerson expressed support for a joint push from Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to assert the War Powers Act to reduce and alter the nature of U.S. military involvement in Yemen.
The Lee-Murphy-Sanders push seeks to reclaim war-making powers for Congress as originally intended by the Founders via the Constitution, said Wilkerson.
“It’s based on the Constitution,” said Wilkerson. “Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution very clearly gives the war power — that is, the right of the nation to engage in hostilities in war — to the Congress, not to the president. Ever since Harry Truman took the nation without even saying, ‘I fare thee well,’ to the Congress into war in 1950 in Korea, presidents have increasingly assumed the war power was theirs and not the Congress’s. This is an effort to finally arrest that tendency — a tendency that President Obama used to get into this war in Yemen and that President Trump has just continued — to try and rein in presidential war-making and to return the power to make war where it should be, where the Founders put it, where the Constitution put it, to the Congress, the closest representatives of the people. … The Founders probably would have given the war powers to the people if they could, but that’s a little bit untenable. … So they gave it to the next best thing, the people’s representatives in the Congress.”
“[The Lee-Murphy-Sanders push] is an attempt get us back to the Constitution, to get us out of this interminable war-making that the executive has taken us into, and that the Founders warned us about when they passed the Constitution,” said Wilkerson.
The Founders warned against the dangers of monopolistic presidential powers over war-making, said Wilkerson. “When [the Founders] originally put it together, when they debated it, when they wrote The Federalist Papers, they all talked about how dangerous it was to put the war power exclusively in the hands of the executive.”
War-making powers should be diffused away from nearly exclusive presidential control, said Wilkerson. “We need to rein in this ability of the president — a single person like the kings of old, like the monarchs of old which our founders were trying to get away from — to take the nation to war.”
Those mostly opposed to presidential usurpation of congressional war-making authority are those “who have to bear the weight of dying and bleeding when those wars are started, and that’s your soldiers, Marines, airmen, and Coast Guard men,” said Wilkerson.
Active duty service-persons and veterans “are not happy at all about having to bear the burden of these wars,” Wilkerson said.
“Do you see this as being a final way that we can end the insanity of the wars that are just going on endlessly in Afghanistan and Iraq?” Mansour asked.
“These wars make no sense, and they seem to be interminable, and when they seem to be able to be struck at a moment’s notice so long as the president feels he needs to go to war,” said Wilkerson of post-2001 U.S.-led military conflicts.
American support for Saudi Arabia in its conflict with Yemen is a boon for Islamic terrorist recruitment, said Wilkerson.
“The people in the region see this not as a Saudi-waged war, but as a U.S. war waged by the Saudis as our proxies,” said Wilkerson. “So what’s happening is, that war and our effort to help the Saudis is increasing the recruits in the ranks of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. I guarantee you the special operating forces in Yemen don’t like it because we’re actually causing them to have a more dangerous, harder, and longer-term job making al-Qaeda more powerful through our support of the Saudis.”
Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had signaled a shift and expansion in the U.S. mission in Syria, said Wilkerson. It was originally a counter-terrorism operation against ISIS in Syria, and both Mattis and Tillerson were seeking to “start a war with” and “take on” Iran, he added.
Mansour described shifting military objectives as “mission creep.” Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are still being fought “with no clear objective” she added.
“I think the American public has had enough of this,” said Mansour. “We’re not building up our own country. We’re not building up our infrastructure. We’re not spending it here to help ourselves, while China … becomes a strategic competitor to us because they’re building up their economy. They’re advancing all over the place. The warfare of the future is going to be economic, and we’re not even engaged in that. We’re still engaged in these fights for God knows what reason.”
The bipartisan nature of the push to invoke the War Powers Act reflects broad popular support for the endeavor, said Mansour.
“I’m amazed [that] this coming together is a complete coalition of people on such different political perspectives,” said Mansour. “This is definitely left-right. This seems to be a reflection of the American people in the sense that it comes from people as disparate as Bernie Sanders and Mike Lee. … So that just shows you that this is right and left.”
President Donald Trump should support the Lee-Murphy-Sanders push, said Mansour. “I would love for President Trump to get behind this. He ran on getting us out of these dumb wars, and this thing in Yemen was something that Obama started. I’m hopeful that President Trump may say, ‘Hey, I’m for this. Let’s do it.'”
Trump seemingly “understands we can’t afford to keep doing this sort of thing,” said Wilkerson, pointing to Trump’s previous contradictions of Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on military operations in Syria.
Breitbart News Tonight airs Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.