Democrats in Congress are debating how to rein in Bush’s increasingly unlimited expenditures for the Iraq war without seeming to betray our troops in the field. But the wily Bush, presenting them with a false dichotomy, has raised the bar by demanding even more money and authority to interdict Syria and Iran.
There is a simple solution that Democrats must apply. Congress is the ultimate governing body entrusted with not only the power of raising funds, but also with the power of waging war.
The president is not able to declare war, that power is invested in the Congress (Art. I, Sect. 8). The executive branch is charged with carrying out the deliberate laws and policies of the Congress, not with making the laws.
Congress must exercise its responsibility and vote to deny and reverse the 2002 “war authorization” resolution, under colour of which Bush has assumed war powers. The power to create a standing army vests in the Congress, and only in time of war is the president able to exercise the power of Commander-in-Chief. Congress can withdraw or regulate authority for the standing army or for war. No war, no Commander-in-Chief, no matter how Bush postures.
Democrats must show some spine. They must simply eliminate Bush’s ability to wage war on Iraq.
Stopping the war authorization would not eliminate Congress’ ability to “wage peace” on Iraq.
The lessons of Viet Nam are relevant here. We dropped more explosives on Viet Nam than were expended by all sides in World War II, including the atomic bombs, all targeting another small nation of less than 30 million people. The dollar cost of the Viet Nam war per Vietnamese was huge, out of proportion to any possible war aim.
One simple calculation was that if the money expended on the war had been used to build roads, hospitals, schools and power plants, and purchase and give away consumer goods, cars and appliances to each resident of Indo-China, instead of wasted on soldiers, bombs and napalm, it would have been cheaper and more effective at achieving a free Viet Nam.
Congress should authorize dropping only good things on Iraq.
Instead of bombs, “arm” a new Peace Corps of volunteers to repair at least some of the destruction visited on Iraq. Bush’s war, based admittedly on falsehoods if not outright lies, has not been of benefit to either of our peoples, and Congress needs to put an end to it immediately.
Bush wants to control the dialog, directing it to the false issue of “our troops or defeat”, whereas the real debate must return to whether to authorize the war at all. We don’t have to continue killing Iraqis and Americans.
Democrats have the power to just say no. They must recognize and exercise that power.