We Need to Listen to the Founders and Stop the Forever War

In a handout photo, the guided-missile cruiser Philippine Sea launches an attack against Islamic State targets in Syria on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (Photo: Eric Garst / U.S. Navy via The New York Times)

Just a little over a year ago during his speech at the National Defense University here in Washington, DC, President Obama talked about winding down Bush’s war on terror.

But as US bombers continue to strike against ISIS in Iraq and now Syria, it now looks like the war on terror will be with us for years to come.

And that’s a really dangerous thing for our democracy.

You see, aside from the return of the British Empire, there was nothing that scared our founding fathers more than multigenerational war – essentially, war without end.

The founders were scholars of classical history, and they knew that when given too much power, armies, like the armies ancient Rome, would push for more and more war, regardless of whether or not it was actually necessary for the safety of the people.

This threatened the very core of our system of government. As James Madison told the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention in 1787:

“A standing military force … will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”

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