Congress can do more to stop US involvment in Iraq
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:
- 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
- The number of troops sent
Example: Congress can cap the size of the troop escalation, setting it ideally to ZERO.
- 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.