The Wall Street Journal editorial page has a piece up today arguing that Congress has no Constitutional power to micromanage any war:
To understand why the Founders put war powers in the hands of the Presidency, look no further than the current spectacle in Congress on Iraq. What we are witnessing is a Federalist Papers illustration of criticism and micromanagement without responsibility.
Consider the resolution pushed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday by Joe Biden and Chuck Hagel, two men who would love to be President if only they could persuade enough voters to elect them. Both men voted for the Iraq War. But with that war proving to be more difficult than they thought, they now want to put themselves on record as opposing any further attempts to win it.
Their resolution–which passed 12-9–calls for Iraqis to “reach a political settlement” leading to “reconciliation,” as if anyone disagrees with that necessity. But then it declares that the way to accomplish this is to wash American hands of the Iraq effort, proposing that U.S. forces retreat to protect the borders and hunt terrorists. The logic here seems to be that if the Americans leave, Iraqis will miraculously conclude that they have must settle their differences. A kind of reverse field of dreams: If we don’t come, they will build it.
The irony is that this is not all that far from the “light footprint” strategy that the Bush Administration was following last year and which these same Senators called a failure. It is precisely the inability to provide security in Baghdad that has led to greater sectarian violence, especially among Shiites victimized by Sunni car bombs. The purpose of the new Bush counterinsurgency strategy is to provide more security to the population in the hopes of making a political settlement easier.
But then such analysis probably takes this resolution more seriously than most of the Senators do. If they were serious and had the courage of their convictions, they’d attempt to cut off funds for the Iraq effort. But that would mean they would have to take responsibility for what happens next. By passing “non-binding resolutions,” they can assail Mr. Bush and put all of the burden of success or failure on his shoulders.
Read the rest here. (Hat tip: ST reader Sev)
On a related note, make sure to check out Daniel Henninger’s opinion piece in today’s Real Clear Politics, on how we’re ‘talking ourselves into defeat’. He writes:
The United States is talking itself into defeat in Iraq. Its political culture is now in a downward spiral of pessimism. In the halls of Congress, across endless newspaper columns, amid the punditocracy and on Sunday morning talk shows–all emit a Stygian gloom about America.
Yes, on any given day on some discrete issue (Prime Minister Maliki’s bona fides, for example), the criticism of the American role is not without justification. But the cumulative effect of this unremitting ill wind is corrosive. We are not only on the way to talking ourselves into defeat in Iraq but into a diminished international status that may be harder to recover than the doom mob imagines. Self-criticism has its role, but profligate self-doubt can exact a price.
Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins wonders “whether the clock has already run out.” To U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton the new strategy is “a dead end.” For the Bush troop request, presidential candidate Joe Biden predicted “overwhelming rejection.” (His committee resolution to that effect yesterday passed by three votes.) Presidential candidate Chuck Hagel: “We have anarchy in Iraq. It’s getting worse.” And not least, Sen. John Warner this week heaved his tenured eminence against the war effort, proposing another “non-binding” resolution against more troops.
It’s a pretty comprehensive piece with a lot of good points. Make sure to read it all.