Congress can do more to stop US involvment in Iraq

Congress can do more to stop US involvement in Iraq than people think.

To give background without getting into a lot of details, our government is set up in a way that each branch has a way to guard itself from being overpowered by the other two branches. The Congress does this in many cases by what is called the “Power of the Purse,” or the ability to control how the government spends money.

With regard to Iraq, [the Democratic] Congress has a lots of options when it comes to finding a way to end the current occupation. The one that is talked about the most is using its “Power of the Purse” to not allow the money to be spent on sending more troops to Iraq. This has been falsely criticized as “not supporting the troops” by spin doctors, but the reasons why that view is misguided are will not be addressed in this article.

If Congress looks beyond the “Power of the Purse,” it is likely to find alternative strategies that are not only possible, but safer politically and less vulnerable to being deemed unpatriotic.

One option is to keep the spending the same while limiting:

  1. The scope of the mission
    Example: Congress can say that it’s alright to train Iraqi troops but not alright to take non-defensive action
  2. The number of troops sent
    Example: Congress can cap the size of the troop escalation, setting it ideally to ZERO.
  3. The specific places troops are sent
    Example: Congress can direct where troops can/cannot go (yes to Afghanistan, no to Iraq, no to Iran).

I don’t see how this could be framed as an unpatriotic. I have no military experience, but being specific and deliberate about where soldiers go and what they do sounds like supporting them to me. From the NY Times article:

…The Supreme Court has long recognized Congress’s authority to set limits on the president’s military power, as in 1799 when it accepted Congress’s power to authorize the seizure of ships going to, but not coming from, French ports…[Former Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court] Mr. Rehnquist cited numerous historical examples including a 1940 law prohibiting the deployment of drafted soldiers outside the Western Hemisphere. More recently, under President Clinton, we in the office of legal counsel repeatedly recognized the authority of Congress to limit the scope, nature and duration of military engagements.

What this tells me that all of this is precedented and has been done before successfully. Why can’t it be done again now? This is the type of plan that I would like to see proposed and passed through legislature at the same time that measures to withdraw troops as soon as possible are being debated.

One Love. One II.

So-called “War on Terror”


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

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