Orthocuban proposes two reasons why the declaration of hostilities in the wake of 9/11 was problematic. Had formal war been declared the Geneva convention codes would be considered applicable. If a nation wanted to retaliate militarily but not do so in a way that would be considered obliged to Geneva codes a semi-war could be declared.
The clarity of objectives could be in doubt which Orhocuban explains becomes the second problem, not simply that the war is not as formally declared a war as it needed to be but because at length American soldiers who want confidence that they went into the right conflict for the right reasons can't withstand having killed or shot at.
... But, the second reason for its being a mistake is the suicide rate listed above. We have a set of conflicts without a clear explanation as to why we are there and when that commitment ends. This is bad enough for us here, but it is horribly worse for those who have to serve in foreign countries, killing others and waiting to be killed. You see American soldiers are mostly moral, and they think morally.
And the major problem is that for an American soldier to kill or be killed, s/he needs to believe that they are doing what is moral. When there is no declared war, when there is no clear reason to why we are somewhere—regardless, of what Limbaugh, Beck, etc., say—, when there is no clear “leaving” strategy, then the morality of what you are involved in is called into question. And, when your morality is called into question, your internal moral compass is thrown into disarray. And when that happens …
I haven't linked to anything from Orthocuban in a while so it seemed like something to link to.