Political Stands for Which I Have No Sympathy
Political Stand # 2: I oppose sending more troops into Iraq to die for the sake of trying and failing to avert a civil war......but I think the current resolution is too harsh and will offer a nicer one.
Political Stand # 3: I oppose sending more troops into Iraq, and I will express that opposition in a strongly worded resolution which is entirely non-binding. Furthermore, I will expend my time and legislative energy on making these words as strong sounding as possible....while the President nevertheless sends troops.
I look at Congress right now and I see sound and fury....heat with no light.....talk masked as action.....posturing which does nothing to stop the coming bloodbath.
What can Congress do?
1. Well, as I've argued in my sadly-unpublished (but still available if you ask for it) national security law paper, Congress has the power to direct movement of troops. Lots of people don't understand this - and many people willfully misunderstand it because it's in their interest. But, constitutionally speaking, Congress CAN limit the president, even in time of war. There is longstanding Supreme Court precedent supporting the practice. It's just that, practically speaking, Congress isn't structured to run the details of a war very well and usually leaves it up to the branch which is structured to be more decisive - the Executive branch. But Congress has at time exercised its power and it should do so now, before the President sends more troops to what one Senator aptly described as "that grinder."
2. Even the biggest, scariest advocates of Executive Power - like Professor John Yoo - admit that Congress has the power of the purse and can wield it to stop an out-of-control President. Congress can - and should - wield it to stop this useless escalation.
But, of course, it won't. Congress is too busy posturing while soldiers die.