< meta name="DC.Date.Valid.End" content="20050825"> Amendment Nine: The Way We Go To War

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Way We Go To War

This is not my area of expertise, by any stretch. I deal in financials. But when I see decisions being poorly made, decisions that impact my own selfish desire for wealth, I get to thinking, even get a little mad. I hope most of you feel the same way.

First, I should state that America is in a unique position: militarily and economically dominant in the world. No one is a suitable rival at the moment. We've been in this state ever since the fall of the Soviet empire. Before, our preeminence was threatened, or balanced, by Soviet strength. Then, we needed to project our military power in order to protect our economic interest in as efficient a manner as possible from an enemy every bit as greedy as are we.

I always assumed that was why we allowed the President to effectively go to war by his own choice, without a real check by the Congress. In earlier days, when we weren't one of two superpowers, our country had a history of Congress being the one to declare war, not the President. But in the Cold War world, the risks involved in too slow a deliberation by the legislative chambers were much greater than the risks involved in the President making a rash choice.

That situation has changed. Now, we are the world's only superpower. Therefore, it seems to me, that a change in our decision making process for whether or not to commit to a war is warranted as well.

Is it the case that today we need to go back to the old way of having Congress deliberate before commiting troops? Is the risk of a rash decision in favor of war greater than the risk of too slow a response? I don't know, I'm no expert.

But, no matter how grave the threat posed by Al-Qaeda, it pales in comparison to the magnitude of the threat posed by an aggressive Soviet empire. To me, that is clear enough on its face. I live in lower in Manhattan, and was there for 9/11. While the emotional scars of that day still remain with me, as a financial analyst, I remain amazed at how resilient our economy is to such a disaster. Terrorist events are serious, and do have long-term consequences, but their major economic impact is to operate as a short-term liquidity crunch. In other words, we aren't faced with the end of our existence like we once were.

It seems to me that this President has taken advantage of a decision making system streamlined to counterbalance an empire bent our annihiliation, not one designed to beat a bunch of terrorists. We should all rethink how we decide to go to war, and what form of decision making is optimal based on the geopolitical realities of today.