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What Would People Think?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Political Stands for Which I Have No Sympathy

Political Stand # 1: I oppose sending more troops into Iraq, but I don't want to vote on a non-binding resolution condemning the President's plan because that doesn't show national unity.

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 Well, as I've argued in my sadly-unpublished (but still available if you ask for it) national security law paper, Congress has the power to direct movement of troops.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.


  • The problem is that if they deny funding for the escalation, then they're afraid Bush will send them anyway, which makes them look bad for not funding the troups. What they need to do is deny funding AND resolve to initiate impeachment proceedings if he tries to send the troops anyway. But Pelosi already took impeachment off the table, which is just a ridiculous thing to do.

    By Blogger Barzelay, at 1/26/2007 2:36 AM  

  • I'm not sure if stupidly sending troops to die - horrible as it is - is an impeachable offense. It's not an offense so deep as to undermine our constitutional structure. Now if Congress actually forbade the sending of troops (not just cut off funding) and he did it anyway, that might be a different story, because he deliberately broke the law. Of course, he's done that already.

    By Blogger Ben, at 1/26/2007 7:05 AM  

  • Haven't you learned from recent history that Congress would rather spend most of its time flailing their arms to create the illusion of flying? Look at the 109th, which accomplished absolutely nothing in spite of having a clear majority and support from the White House.

    By Blogger Mike, at 1/26/2007 10:16 AM  

  • This particular Supreme Court might be a little less sympathetic to Congressional power-wielding than past Courts. The new kids have a history of supporting executive power, and they could probably pull Thomas and Kennedy along with them. The four liberals would vote together - making Scalia the wild card. Not the most auspicious of scenarios. Bush undoubtedly knows this and is going to push Congress to the breaking point because of it.

    Congress could threaten to impeach Dub over the wiretapping thing, extraordinary rendition, holding citizens without due process, etc. All of which are breaches of law committed by the executive. Stupid wars may not be impeachable, but if Congress wants to throw teeth into it they can tie impeachment on those grounds to the escalation.

    I'm not sure about where I stand regarding the escalation, and I think most members of Congress are there with me. Thus the non-binding resolution - if they are convinced later that the surge is a good idea, they can still let the President go on his merry way. If they become more certain that the surge is a bad idea, they've already taken the first step to stopping it (which is what Schumer called the resolution on The Daily Show last night).

    Of course, the more I learn about the options facing us now, the more I get confused.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 1/26/2007 11:27 AM  

  • The thing is, even if you support the SURGE (SUUUURGE!!) as is, it's practically a drop in the lake in terms of increasing toop strength. It wouldn't even raise troop levels to their previous high point, and we couldn't stop the violence back then, either.

    And the administration says they've adopted a model closer to the one outlined in Fiasco, but the current plan, as the book itself said, is too little, too late. You just can't do a clear-and-hold, earn-population-trust thing with the numbers of soldiers and the maturity of this insurgency.

    And even if it WASN'T too little too late, you trust this administration to do ANYTHING effectively? They'll fuck this up with their typical incompetence and corruption.

    Can you even BELIEVE things have gotten this bad?!

    By Blogger Zhubin, at 1/26/2007 1:32 PM  

  • Considering the sheer incompetence of the Bush Admin, I can believe that things got this bad (I'm glad I left!).

    I do think that the President's plan should be given a chance; partly because there is a chance to obtain some sort of victory, but mostly because, when the Iraqi gov't fails to hold up its end, the Pres' gives the US an "out."

    As much as it's important to beat the terrorists, it's also important to save face leaving the area.

    By Blogger Michael, at 1/29/2007 9:47 AM  

  • here is a simple plan to Iraq. Let the people earn their own freedom! Pull out our troops with this attached to it. One leader from every tribe has equal power to initiate democracy. You have one year to get it done. If those powers cannot get it done, simply remove them and let civil war break out. screw em. I owe them nothing. We were all stooped into let's see.... weapons of mass distruction, Sadam is a bad man, killing his own people and oh.... this is where all the terrorist are! come on how dumb do they think the American people are. The problem is no one has had to change or suffer with our soldiers. We are all sitting here drinking Dr. pepper and bitching about gas prices while our kids are Enduring unimaginable things. Not all is bad over there we are doing some good. But there is no amount of oil worth my Son's life. Get out and Screw em. We know we can kick their asses if we have to go back. We can sit over hear and watch them safely, we have the technology to watch their every move. Enough is enough, admit your mistakes and correct them.

    By Anonymous fedup, at 2/07/2008 1:39 AM  

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