Is Joe Biden fighting an undeclared war against Russia?

According to the Constitution, it is Congress’s job to decide when to declare and wage war on a foreign country.

What is the Biden administration doing?

“U.S. Intelligence Is Helping Ukraine Kill Russian Generals, Officials Say” (NYT, May 4, 2022):

The United States has provided intelligence about Russian units that has allowed Ukrainians to target and kill many of the Russian generals who have died in action in the Ukraine war, according to senior American officials.

Ukrainian officials said they have killed approximately 12 generals on the front lines, a number that has astonished military analysts.

The targeting help is part of a classified effort by the Biden administration to provide real-time battlefield intelligence to Ukraine. That intelligence also includes anticipated Russian troop movements gleaned from recent American assessments of Moscow’s secret battle plan for the fighting in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the officials said. Officials declined to specify how many generals had been killed as a result of U.S. assistance.

The United States has focused on providing the location and other details about the Russian military’s mobile headquarters, which relocate frequently.

If a country did that to the U.S., would we call it an “act of war” and flatten their capital in retaliation?

“U.S. Intelligence Helped Ukraine Strike Russian Flagship, Officials Say” (NYT, May 5, 2022):

The United States provided intelligence that helped Ukrainian forces locate and strike the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet last month, another sign that the administration is easing its self-imposed limitations on how far it will go in helping Ukraine fight Russia, U.S. officials said.

The targeting help, which contributed to the eventual sinking of the flagship, the Moskva, is part of a continuing classified effort by the Biden administration to provide real-time battlefield intelligence to Ukraine.

What if a country helped some jihadists conduct an operation similar to the USS Cole bombing, e.g., by letting the attackers know exactly where one of our ships was?

What about funding? One way to figure out if a country is at war is if its taxpayers are funding a war. From a May 4 NYT article in which the President actually does run a proposal by Congress:

This week, the Senate will take up a request from President Biden to send $33 billion in aid to Ukraine, mostly in the form of artillery, antitank weapons and other military and security assistance. If the measure goes through, the United States will have authorized a total of $46.6 billion for the war, equal to more than two-thirds of Russia’s entire annual defense budget.

The request comes just weeks after President Vladimir Putin of Russia called on the Biden administration in a formal diplomatic letter to stop supplying advanced weapons to Ukrainian forces. If it didn’t, Putin warned there would be “unpredictable consequences.”

It sounds like Americans been doing everything on the Ukrainian side except the final trigger pull. We are funding the entire Ukrainian military, just as we fund our own military. We are directly running the Ukrainian military’s electronic and satellite intelligence branch. With some assistance from NATO allies, we are designing and building the weapons that the Ukrainian military uses in combat.

The above should not be intended as an opinion regarding the Russia-Ukraine war. (I don’t understand the languages, the history, etc.) The topic for this post is the process of governing the U.S. If the Constitution says “Congress shall have Power . . . To declare War” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 11), how is Joe Biden allowed to do all of the stuff that he is apparently doing without specific Congressional authorization?


17 thoughts on “Is Joe Biden fighting an undeclared war against Russia?

  1. philg: “According to the Constitution, it is Congress’s job to decide when to declare and wage war on a foreign country.”
    The last time the United States formally declared war on another country was June 5, 1942 when it declared war on Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. On other occasions before and since there has been some form of military authorization from Congress, short of a formal declaration of war. However “On at least 125 occasions, the President has acted without prior express military authorization from Congress.” So there appears to be some historical precedent for the current U.S. involvement in Ukraine.

  2. “the United States will have authorized a total of $46.6 billion for the war, equal to more than two-thirds of Russia’s entire annual defense budget.”
    There are many different estimates of how much the U.S. spent on Afghanistan, below is one for $2.3 trillion for 2001-2021. I didn’t find an estimate of the Taliban expenditures during that period, but it’s probably safe to say they were considerably lower. So the U.S. spending a lot of money on foreign military activities is not unprecedented. It remains to be seen how effective the Ukraine expenditures will prove relative to the expenditures in Afghanistan.

  3. This looks like a “special military operation” for both sides. Vietnam style. Vietnam was a “special police action”. Democrats were excited about Vietnam as well, and dramatically escalated with the “Gulf of Tonkin”. The analogy breaks down somewhat as the Ukraines seem more eager to fight than the South Vietnamese army. Or at least that is what I read in the history books.

  4. Targeted operations may as well be result of Ukrainian special forces intelligence. Many Ukrainians reside in Russia and historically Ukrainians were well represented in Russian and Soviet military and state security, including up to this war. I am watching what is claimed to be intercepts of Russian military personnel communications posted by Ukrainian Security forces on ticktock and it often Russian soldiers blame Ukrainian civilians for spying. Interrogation torture that was described is without comparison, even if include Saddam Hussein, Spanish inquisition, Comanche warriors and Nazis.
    The generals are being killed in several locations inside Ukraine close to front-line, including 5 + generals at one location in South-Eastern Ukraine in sequence, at the same place over few weeks, where Russian military also kept loosing personnel and parked jets to Ukrainian artillery fire for weeks, at the same location; other couple of generals were killed storming Ukrainian capital; yet other in near captured city in far Eastern Ukraine just few miles from the front-lines.
    Looks like Putin or someone pushes Russian Army generals to do something quickly and they try… Does not look like it all was American targeting aid. None of generals was killed in borders of Russia and since Russia has not formally declared war on Ukraine then even if US intelligence helped Ukrainians to target generals, which I doubt, can it be considered act of war against Russia? No more then them dying in a bar fight could be considered an act of war.

  5. Biden started out very lethargic to offer any aid, only in the last month ramping it up in the form of “defense of democracy” to put it in terms of the defeat of guys like a certain ex republican president. He knows the amerikan people won’t support it unless it’s put in terms of the noble career politician elected by the democratic government defeating the evil autocrat elected by the private sector.

  6. For a head of an originally Western institution, Pope Francis is out of lockstep indeed!

    Thanks for the meme picture. I wonder if the crises are cyclical, i.e., if we will see BLM resurfacing after the Pussy Hats. The recent Pussy Hats were triggered by the Supreme Court leak.

    Perhaps a reminder that the greatest leftist protests in Germany ever were triggered by a leftist Stasi operative working as a West German police officer, who shot a leftist student leader (who should have been an ally for East Germany but was apparently sacrificed for the “greater good”):

    The fact that he was Stasi came out 40 years later.

  7. Whatever Joe Biden does or does not do is being coordinated with everyone in Europe, the leaders of the countries in which do not want to see a single body bag come back with a soldier in them, nor do they want to see any disruption in their money flow with whatever Russians are still doing business with them. So his decisions are Global in that sense. He can divert resources of whatever kind he wants to as President as long as he’s in step with the “Coalition of the Willing” in Europe, and that’s how the decisions are being made.

    • A big part of being the Most Powerful Leader in the World is having *choices* and *options.* There is no Democrat in Congress that wants to stop Joe Biden from doing whatever he sees fit in this conflict. And there are no Republicans, either. I’m sure they’re all talking to him, it’s a big question whether he remembers any of the conversations, though.

      The Yurps want STABILITY and the POTUS has to operate within constraints here because Biden is a Europeanist. So the policy and the money and the decisions are being made globally. That burns the short and curly hairs of strict people who like to say: “Well, we’re giving this and doing that and spending this and shipping this, and so forth.”

      But it all has to be done in a non-applecart-upsetting way for the people Running the Show.

  8. As far as Americans being early participants in undeclared wars go, I have a story to tell about that sometime, involving Laos/Cambodia in the early days of the “Vietnam Police Action.” In fact I have one of his broken, blasted, shattered wristwatches from the time he was there and came back as a paraplegic. He was a very good man in the earliest days of another undeclared war. What is past is just a slightly different present.

    • this was one of those foreign “police actions” that “seemed like a good idea at the time”. Vietnam was different in that there was conscription. Whereas modern “police actions” are theoretically volunteers, at least from the US perspective. Although many “volunteers” are from the ranks of the deplorables in “fly over country”, rather than the he/she/ze/zir/they of NYC or San Francisco.

    • He wasn’t conscripted, but I do know what you are referring to, and it’s true. My own father wanted to volunteer to fight and tried three times but was deferred and positively denied because in the initial physical he showed a scar that resulted from a burn wound he received as a teenager (on his way to Eagle Scout melting wax) that extends to this day from his knee to his groin. It’s a huge scar covering the entire top surface of one leg.

      Instead of taking a deferment because he was at an “Elite University” he tried several times to ENLIST. The doctors all told him that if they sent him to Vietnam the scar/wound would become infected and they would have to amputate his leg within a couple of months of his arrival. That is probably why I am here today.

      The person I’m referring to, though, has long since passed away. However, before he died he taught me how to shoot from his wheelchair, and he was in Laos and Cambodia in the early days of John F. Kennedy’s beginning of the “Police Action.” Very early 1960s, after the French lost.

    • That much scar sounds like a legitimate medical disqualification because if the skin / scar became infected for some reason he would require a medical evac and sent home.

      I imagine there was plenty that volunteered for Vietnam, as that is what 18 years do. Doesn’t matter what the gray hair politicians are plotting and scheming. That, and Airborne Rangers and tour of duty in Southeast Asia sounds much better than Walmart job when chatting up the ladies. Although that assumes they don’t get hurt and disabled, so rolling the dice.

      I also know of some vets took injuries with associated disability in Vietnam.

  9. There was a video of American who fought in Vietnam volunteering now in Ukraine. He mentioned that he was going to pay his debt to the “russkies”. Hope his is OK in the war zone, he looked like a big dude in his 60th, with large beer gut.

    • aging beer gut guy sounds a bit young to have served in Vietnam. Maybe he played too much Call of Duty, Modern Warfare. Or dementia is already setting in. Or his wife put him up to it after updating the life insurance papers. Or he is making cool videos to become a social media “influencer” to supplement social security.

    • I thought that too for a split second but then calculated that 20-years old Marine sergeant in 1972 is now 70 years old. Maybe he was a sharpshooter or a sniper, then he would be OK for defensive city warfare – he was near Ukrainian capital. During this war there was at least one case when Russian airborne special forces attempted to storm an inner city by helicopter and were cancelled by Ukrainian Territorial Defense forces – dudes with large beer guts who were hunters and recreational shooters and middle-aged ladies who practiced shooting sports.

Comments are closed.