April 9, 2017
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
How Can We Obey The Law Against War
With the bombing of Syria last week Americans were again confronted with our leaders taking the United States to war in violation all international laws and norms forbidding unjust war. These laws and norms go back further than the War Powers Act of 1973, which forbids the president from engaging in military action without a declaration of war by Congress
, unless that action results solely from an actual or imminent threat of attack against the United States. It goes back further than prohibitions against illegal wars incorporated in the United Nations Charter of 1945. We must go all the way back to the General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy, better known as the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928. The treaty, authored by US Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand, was ratified 85 – 1 by your 1928 predecessors, going into effect July 24, 1929. Kellogg-Briand is still in effect with a total of 62 signatories.
Yet, the United States, with support nearly every member of Congress including yourselves, continues illegal perpetual warfare in seven countries, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and the aforementioned Syria, in complete violation of Kellogg-Briand. Since the September 11, 2001 attack against the United States, three presidents have used that isolated event to engage in perpetual warfare against any persons in any countries deemed to even possibly harbor ill will toward America. This blank check to violate Kellogg-Briand with impunity, causing untold thousands of deaths, injuries and refugees, makes a mockery of our commitment to peace and stability throughout the world.
As my senators, I implore you to live up to your membership in the US Senate, known as ‘the world’s most deliberative body’, and return America to its once held adherence to Kellogg-Briand. The following steps might be helpful in fulfilling that long discarded commitment:
1. Request that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) convene a bi-partisan Senate Conference to review Kellogg-Briand.
2. Include historians versed in its origins and history to educate the 100 senators, the oldest of which was born four years after Kellogg-Briand was ratified, likely not even aware of both its existence and prohibitions on their conduct.
3. Include constitutional and international law experts capable of identifying how current US policy of perpetual warfare against millions of defenseless citizens violates all norms of law, morality and decency, including those covered by Kellogg-Briand.
4. Invite representatives of the administration involved in foreign policy, including the President, Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor, to explain precisely why they ignore the War Powers Act of 1973, the UN Charter of 1945, as well as Kellogg-Briand.
5. Request the Joint Chiefs of Staff, consisting of all four services chiefs, to explain how their actions in conducting perpetual military operations against civilian populations furthers America’s obligation to avoid unjust war, as well as serving its national self-interests.
6. Televise this conference in cable and network outlets to educate our citizens and inspire them on the need to promote peace in the honored tradition of Kellogg-Briand.
But please, do not wait for such a conference occurring to comply with Kellogg-Briand. Speak up in the Senate, on your Senate website, at news conferences and Town Halls, on the need to end the perpetual wars we’ve been mired in for the past sixteen years. In so doing you will be honoring your role as citizen and senator. You will be returning America to its cherished place as the world’s beacon of peace and democracy. But most of all you will be finally engaged in preventing untold thousands of needless deaths and ruined lives. Those are the people Kellogg-Briand was designed to protect.
Please consider and respond to this plea. But do not delay. Time is critical. Every day brings new misery, suffering, even death to the innocents trapped beneath our bombs.
Glen Ellyn, IL