Are we at war?

I posted another GD thread about the possibility of Pres Bush intentionally acting irrationally. Thanks for all your responses. This one also comes from the same conversation with the same guy.

I suggested something along the lines of wondering what important business was simply not getting done because of all the resources that were being allocated to Iraq. And I may have said that ousting Hussein was not nearly as important to me as issues such as universal health care and improved education.

My Republican buddy responded with disbelief that I would say such a thing. After all, "We are at war."

I said I did not understand us to be at war, tho we were involved in military activities. And I asked exactly who we were “at war” with. His response, subtly shifting the focus IMO, was "We were attacked."

What do you guys think. Are we “at war.” If so, against whom? If not, should we be? Moreover, does such a distinction matter?

It strikes me that the characterization of something as a war in some ways reflects an intention to magnify its importance, and imbue the efforts with a moral component.

Never-ending war is vital to the Party. War is peace. Ignorance is strength. Don’t forget to show up for Hate Week next month!

Of course we aren’t at war. There has been no declaration of war by congress, and that is necessary according to the American constitution.

Congress was given the power to declare war and the president was given the power to wage war. What that means is that under our system of government, the president cannot legally wage war against another nation in the absence of a declaration of war against that nation from Congress.

We are at war the same way we were at war with the Soviets during the Cold War. The Cold War consisted of economic strategy, foreign policy, and the occasional limited military action (if you consider Korea and Nam limited) with the intent of containing communism. Same thing for the War on Terrorism, except the goal is to nuetralize terrorist groups and protect against attack.

Good to see this topic.

Since we obviously have pretty much tossed aside the part of the Constitution that specifies a Congressional war declaration, in favor of “police action”, “authorization of use of force” etc., and Congress shows no sign of developing the spine necessary to regain and use this power wisely, what are the consequences?

We’ve engaged in a series of sub-wars and conflicts with poorly limited mandates and open-ended nature. Rather than magnifying their importance, I think they’ve anesthetized us to the risks of war and limited the spirit of self-sacrifice and cooperation that, for example, helped get America through WWII.
The end result is that we commit troops without a full realization of the gravity of the situation and without obtaining the commitment needed to see it through.

My party (the Democrats) has absolutely and totally failed to live up to its responsibility in the current crisis. If the current Congress can’t bear the thought of a full debate and war vote, it should resign en masse and give way to those with the balls/ovaries to make tough decisions.