RANCHO SANTA FE, Ca., July 21, 2014 – From the apparent shooting down of Malaysian flight MH17 to the flood of immigrants across our southern border, only one thing is certain: Our response will be random rather than strategic. Since we have divorced ourselves from the concept of being a “Nation of Laws” and replaced it with an ad hoc approach that allows for more “flexibility” when it comes to addressing crises, the world may “like” us more when times are good, but it can no longer count on us when times are bad. We need a definitive foundation upon which to base our decisions, and we need to become far more consistent in setting an example rather than merely advocating one.
Our political leaders have demonstrated their proclivity for condemning someone or something whenever a crisis arises and then distancing themselves from the responsibility of having been caught by surprise. They apparently could not have anticipated civilian casualties in the conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russian separatist rebels. No one could foresee any renewed fighting between Israel and Hamas. Who could have possibly predicted any terrorist organization’s attempt to disrupt the newly formed “democratic” regime in Iraq? You can almost be assured the Administration will be dutifully shocked if there is any change in the status quo in Afghanistan after our scheduled troop withdrawal.
Our leaders evidently could not even envision an acceleration of illegal immigration attempts across our southern border when we announced that we would not be enforcing the letter of the law.
What if we were to demand exceptional results from our leaders rather than merely accept incremental improvement, embrace the status quo, or even endure a decline in the quality of our Nation’s performance and the opportunities it offers? That would require a transformational change from where we are today.
To quote R. Douglass Carter (an outstanding behaviorist and professional trainer), “Transformational change doesn’t come from doing things bigger, better, or faster. It comes from starting from a different place.” Mr. Carter is absolutely correct, and it is time we began to examine a different “starting place” for our Government’s actions.
Returning to the precept of being a “Nation of Laws” might be a good place to commence. Every individual who is elected to Federal office or appointed to the Judiciary either swears to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States” (as is the case with the President) or to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Let’s start there since it establishes common ground among our leaders who have otherwise degenerated into hyper-partisan activists.
The Constitution establishes a clear separation of powers between the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches of Government. If we assiduously adhere to allowing only the Legislative Branch to create laws, then we absolutely know who to hold accountable if the laws fail to “provide for the common Defence (sic) and general Welfare of the United States” as is their mandate under Article I, Section 8.
Correspondingly, if such laws become impossible to enforce by the Executive Branch (Article II), they should be resubmitted to Congress for reconsideration (i.e., amendment, replacement, or abandonment). Congress may follow a similar course with respect to any law that is deemed to be unconstitutional by the Judicial Branch (Article III).
The Executive Branch should remain focused almost singularly on the effective and efficient enforcement of the law under Article II. It has no constitutional authority to legislate or selectively administer the law. Perhaps it would not be challenged by suits it deems to be “stunts” nor would it have lost 20 Supreme Court decisions by 9-0 votes if it were to simply comply with the Constitution in this way.
If the members of the Legislative and Executive Branches honored their Oaths, the Judicial Branch might feel compelled to honor its Oath as well and restrain its actions to the directives contained within Article III.
If technological or societal shifts require a change in the Constitution, Article V provides the means for passing such Amendments. All other rights would be reserved to the States under the Tenth Amendment or to the People under the Ninth Amendment.
See how easy that approach would be?
Now, let’s improve it with one more commitment that would eliminate the hypocrisy that seems to have infected our Government.
On March 20th during the 2012 Presidential campaign, I wrote an article entitled Foreign Policy: A rational approach for the U.S. In it, I posed three questions followed by a clear statement:
“What if all that time, money, and effort (spent in “nation building” abroad where we are not particularly welcomed) were redirected at resolving our own economic challenges rather than attempting to influence the political environments of other countries?
“What if we concentrated on reducing unemployment, poverty, and illiteracy in the United States (areas in which our performance has markedly worsened over the past few years)?
“What if we created a model of excellence that inspired other nations to look to us for guidance rather than trying to impose our ideals on them through our purported “nation building” efforts?
“That is the United States of America that I envision: a country that presents such a robust model of success that every nation aspires to learn from our model; a country that engages in the affairs of other nations upon invitation rather than by dictate.”
If we “started” from there, we might be able to take a more rational approach to the current crises.
Earlier this year, we supported “rebels” in the Ukraine. At the time, that term applied to citizens of Ukraine who favored stronger relations with Europe and the United States rather than with Russia. When those “rebels” were successful and overthrew the pro-Russian government that previously was in power, the roles shifted.
Now, we oppose the new “rebels” in Ukraine. They are Ukrainian citizens just like their predecessors. However, they have been renamed “pro-Russia separatists” because they favor re-alignment with that country.
Russia has provided the “pro-Russia separatists” with weapons while Europe has been selling arms to Ukraine and Russia. The United States has only provided “non-lethal” assistance to Ukraine, but it has stepped up military aid to neighboring Poland and nearby Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
The situation escalated recently when the pro-Russia separatists allegedly used a sophisticated Russian surface-to-air missile to shoot down a commercial airliner. The attack killed 298 innocent victims. As a result, the pro-Russia separatists have been re-branded “terrorists.”
Contrast this to the fact that the new Ukrainian regime has only killed other Ukrainians with less-sophisticated weapons during the internal conflict; although to the victims, that may not seem to be much of a distinction.
The United States quickly and appropriately condemned the attack on MH17. Breaking from the protocol the Administration applies to internal issues, President Obama said, “Our immediate focus is on… investigating exactly what happened and putting forward the facts. We have to make sure that the truth is out and that accountability exists.”
With regard to the latter, many have blamed Russia as if it fired the missiles; asserting that it should be held accountable because it provided weapons and training to the “terrorists.” The Administration might be well-advised to shoot down that reasoning rather than allowing it to “drone on.”
Some have called for strong action to be taken against Russia “like Reagan would have.” Those who had the pleasure of knowing President Reagan rather doubt that he would have reacted irresponsibly. He was focused on stopping the Cold War rather than starting a new one.
What solution are some leaders suggesting? Possibly providing more direct military aid to the Ukrainian regime. That should fix everything.
ISRAEL, HAMAS, SYRIA, ISIS and IRAQ
Let’s simplify this discussion. We provide weapons to Israel. We also provide them to Egypt, which serves as a supply pipeline for Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
We also provided weapons to Libyan rebels to assist them with the overthrow of Muammar al-Gaddafi. Some of those weapons made their way into Syria to assist the rebels in that country’s civil war.
After we were bailed out of our “Red Line in the sand” fiasco with Syria (by Russia of all countries), we decided to support the Syrian rebels more directly in their effort to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Naturally, we began supplying them with weapons; some of which drifted into the control of ISIS, which used them to attack Iraq’s democratically elected and US-armed-and-trained regime.
Are you detecting an irrational and hypocritical trend yet?
Meanwhile, while we are contributing to the unrest throughout the rest of the world as best we can, our own southern border is under attack in a certain sense.
Congress is compelled by Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution to “establish an (sic) uniform Rule of Naturalization,” which it has done. However, the Obama Administration elected to ignore, or at least selectively apply such laws. It even admonished and sued the Border States that attempted to fill the void. Simultaneously, it tacitly endorsed flaunting violations of the same law by so-called “Sanctuary Cities.”
Somehow, our leaders failed to realize that this might be interpreted as an open invitation to ignore the rule of law when it comes to crossing our borders. Citizens living in countries with more widespread violence and poverty than the United States began to view our Nation as a viable and highly accessible alternative.
Luckily, the President has a phone and a pen. He recently called upon Congress to approve a $3.7 billion request to address the influx of illegal immigrants. While his “solution” allowed him to politically address “an urgent humanitarian problem” (as he described it) and shift the burden to Congress, his bill ineffectively masks the problem rather than solves it.
As was stated in last week’s article, the United Nations weighed in as well. It declared the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors, who flooded the United States, to be refugees based upon their flight from gang violence in their countries. To date, the U.N. has been silent as to why this is singularly a problem for the United States as opposed to an issue for its 193 member nations to resolve. It will be interesting to see what resources the U.N. allocates to the crisis beyond words.
Correspondingly, since the President was willing to immediately request $3.7 billion to assist these “refugees” who were fleeing violence, can help be far behind for U.S. citizens who live in similar environments? For example, over 82 Americans were shot (14 killed) in Chicago over the recent 4th of July weekend.
Need a little extra money? Foster a foreign refugee child. An organization is advertising tax-free reimbursements ranging from an average of $1009 up to $6045 per month per “refugee.” Just as a level set, our country has approximately 400,000 foster children of its own and over 100,000 orphans who are American citizens and would like a home. Where does the old phrase say that charity begins?
- What if we started from a different place?
- What if we returned to being a “Nation of Laws”?
- What if our elected and appointed officials were to honor their Oaths of Office?
- What if we stopped supplying weapons to hostile groups in unstable nations in the interest of establishing “democracies”?
- What if we focused on reducing unemployment, poverty, and illiteracy in the United States rather than immediately adding to it?
- What if we were to become “such a robust model of success that every nation aspired to learn from our model”?
- What if we were to become “a country that engages in the affairs of other nations upon invitation rather than by dictate”?
Then again, that might just exacerbate the immigration problem … but at least by then, we might actually have a rational strategy in place to address it.
T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.
This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, A Civil Assessment, in the Communities Digital News (CDN).