Declaring War

“The Constitution grants Congress the sole power to declare war…. Congress approved its last formal declaration of war during World War II. Since that time it has agreed to resolutions authorizing the use of military force and continues to shape U.S. military policy through appropriations and oversight.”1

Since 1942
our government has decided that
no longer need be declared.
War is bad.
We are not at war.
We merely “authorize the use of military force.”

And, oh, what force we have authorized!
We, the strongest military on earth,
with nearly 800 bases in over 70 countries2
who spend more on our military than the next 9 nations combined.3

How many millions of
bombs have been dropped
lands leveled
lives tortured, trammeled, taken
in our non-wars?

We are at war.
We have always been at war,
even if we don’t declare it as war
or if we declare it as war on an abstraction.

We are at war.
Not against terrorism
because war is terrorism
and our empire was built on terrorism
and terrorism begets terrorism.

We are at war
with nations,
with humans,
with life itself.

This is not a new war.
It is an escalation of an old war.
And I do not rest assured
by Congress’

When you live
in the most powerful country on the planet
whose government designs death with impunity,
it is your duty to speak up for those who
do not live.

It is our duty
to call it what it is
declare war.



Open Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

There has been a lot of talk, speculation, and confusion over the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). As a concerned citizen, I have attempted to educate myself on this matter, but it seems that the more I read, the less I understand. Although the complete text of the bill is available online, it is over 400 pages long and full of legal jargon for which most American citizens have no frame of reference. Not to mention that there have been multiple drafts, revisions, and amendments proposed–some passed, others not–which further confuse the situation. We then turn to the media and other third parties to detangle and compress this web of jargon, amendments, and political context. But, with respect to the NDAA in particular, it seems we have only gotten more tangled in confusion and uncertainty from the numerous contradictory “reports” in the media.

Before you sign this bill, Mr. President, I would like you to explain to the American people exactly what the NDAA entails, specifically with regards to indefinite detention of U.S. citizens and overall domestic policy for fighting the “war on terror” within the borders of our country. It seems to me that this bill authorizes, or at least leaves open the possible interpretation that U.S. citizens may be detained indefinitely, without charge or trial, for any act regarded by the government as “supporting” “terrorism.” As the leader of our country, it is your duty to explain to us the implications of laws such as these, laws that purport to “protect” us but also have the possibility of infringing on our civil liberties.

This issue is all the more important given the ongoing suppression and police brutality against Occupy Wall Street protesters over the past three months, which you have yet to address. Your silence on this issue, coupled with this disconcerting Defense Authorization Act, have left many citizens like myself feeling abandoned and betrayed by your leadership, or lack thereof. Please address these issues and assure us that, as President of the United States of America, you will continue to uphold our rights under the Constitution and allow us to express our dissent without being labeled “terrorists.”

We voted you into office. Please address our concerns.


Stavroula Harissis
United States Citizen