Sunday, February 18, 2007

Congress and the Iraq War, the Real Problem...

For the last couple of weeks, Congress has raged with debates over the President's proposed troop increase in Iraq. The resolution proposed serves only to evince the opinion of the Congressional majority who no longer agrees with the President's policy on waging the war in Iraq. Ultimately, this is a non-binding resolution, so while it states an opinion, it fails to really do anything substantial in a legal sense. Recently, the Senate Republicans blocked more debate on the issue after the bill made it through the House of Representatives.

Some scholars have questioned the value of having the President as the Command and Chief as opposed to an independent force working at the behest of the Executive. However, the recent floundering of the legislature calls into question the role of Congress in the operation of war. Constitutionally speaking, Congress retains considerable authority to regulate the military and the prosecution of war (see Art. I, sec. 9, cl. 12 to 16). After the passage of laws like the War Powers Resolution, Congress effectively expanded their ability to control how the President runs a war by defining the powers retained by both political branches. This leaves the question to why Congress would waste it's time with non-binding resolutions aimed at expressing an opinion, instead of enacting a law that would require a reduction of troops in Iraq, or force the President to set a definitive time table to end military operations in the middle east. Arguably this is well within the power of Congress as evinced by history and the text of the War Powers Resolution. However, the political machine seems to force the legislature to resort to non-binding resolutions of opinion instead of operative law. This seems to be the unfortunate state of American Politics. Were we not a year from Presidential primaries and just over two years from a Presidential election, the result would likely be very different. After all, with almost every major candidate comes from the Senate, absent Rudy Giuliani, and none of them want to lose the strong military vote.

In this case, we can thank the Republicans for putting an end to a pointless debate. Hopefully this will provide the Senate and the House to take a chance, and attempt to assert a bill that will make real change.

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