Michael Kinsley in the Washington Post pens this oped on the options left to those who oppose the war.
What are you supposed to do, according to supporters of the Iraq war, if you think that the war is a dreadful mistake? Suppose you are a member of Congress, elected by constituents who also, like most Americans, according to opinion polls, oppose the war. Is there any legitimate action you can take? Or must you simply allow the war to go on and let young Americans die in what you regard as a bad cause? What are your options?Then he addresses the convoluted logic of the the war promoters.
There was a time, circa 1999, when Republicans considered it the height of naivete, irresponsibility and indifference to the fate of American soldiers to commit any troops to action in a foreign country without what used to be called an "exit strategy." That was when the president was a Democrat. Now it is considered the height of naivete, irresponsibility and indifference to the fate of American soldiers to suggest the possibility of any exit strategy short of triumph. If you do, you are betraying the troops. And no one sees actual triumph in the cards, so there is no exit strategy.Kinsley goes on to enumerate the options left to Congress:
The power to declare (or not declare) war? Nope, that's pretty much gone.
But presidents from both parties have pretty much stolen Congress's war power, with the ordinarily "strict constructionist" Republicans taking the lead. Congress has stood by and not done much -- but what could it do?
The power to cut off funds, the alleged "power of the purse" Kinsley lets us know that monies can be gotten from other sources.
Congress can cut off funds for a war that people don't like. In this connection, older readers might recall the Iran-contra affair, in which sources of money were found to keep the contra war going in Nicaragua without Congress's even knowing about it.Oops! Okay, so the power of the purse is not operative. Next option.
Ah! Elections! Let's make sure we don't elect people who will take us to war unnecessarily. Except ...
When this president first ran for national office, he campaigned on a platform of criticizing his predecessor for engaging in military action (in Kosovo and Somalia) without an exit strategy. He mocked the notion of trying to establish democracy in distant lands. He denounced the use of American soldiers for "nation-building." In 2000, if you were looking for a way to express your disapproval of the policies and prejudices that later got us into Iraq, your obvious answer would have been to vote for George W. Bush.Oy.
Check and mate.