I have the distinct advantage of being in the business of conviviality and this lends itself to contemplating the matters of the day. One of the most fruitful discussions was on the right of governments to employ intrigue to propel their respective nations into war.
President George W. Bush said that this was the first war of the millennium and that it was declared upon us. He also made it clear that "terrorism" was a worldwide problem that needed to be stopped. I posed the question to some patrons of the potential event that we learn, many years from now, that our government had prior knowledge of the details of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
I continued to make the case that we have come through a century in which we suffered two world wars and in both cases the details of the initiation of hostility upon America were known in advance by our government. There is much evidence to support the conclusion that the U.S. and the UK put the Lusitania, an ocean liner with guns, ammo and American women and children aboard, into harms way. The State Department stopped warnings to American passengers, sent to newspapers by the German Embassy. Normal escorts given to ocean liners were ordered elsewhere. The speed of the Lusitania was ordered to slow to 75%. The Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigned from office over this manner of joining World War I. He thought it evil to place women and children in front of the army.
A visit to the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredricksburg, Texas will reveal the telegrams that showed prior knowledge of the bombing of Pearl Harbor to hurl us into World War II. The record also shows purposeful misdirection of reconnaissance planes to the south instead of the north where it was known the Japanese fleet approached.
It was replied that "we needed to enter the war for the sake of world liberty and the mood was not strong enough to merely declare war." The question is then framed. Can a government derive the authority to place its own citizens in harms way to create passion to enter a war deemed worthy by government? What if we learn thirty years from now that we needed to join with other nations to stamp out terrorism, but there was no mood in America to "declare war on terrorism" without a shocking atrocity.
I maintain that a government cannot derive power from the people of a nation in which it can place any one of the citizens of that nation in harms way to excite passion for any cause, no matter how great. No man has this authority and he cannot delegate something he has not to his representatives. This act also violates the sole purpose of government, which is to protect the property of each of its citizens. A corollary to that law is that it cannot violate the rights of one or more for the protection of the rights of many or all.
Ronald F. Avery