Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Debating war powers: Democratic resolve, Republican hypocrisy

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It looks like things are getting serious in the Senate. Non-binding resolutions were all the rage, congressionally speaking, last week, but Democrats are now looking to block Bush's ridiculous surge strategy once and for all: "Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee began laying the constitutional groundwork today for an effort to block President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq and place new limits on the conduct of the war there, perhaps forcing a withdrawal of American forces from Iraq."

Republican Arlen Specter may be on board. So may other Republican dissidents -- and their ranks are growing.

Democrat Russ Feingold, one of the Iraq War's most consistent and credible opponents, intends to go further: He "said he would soon introduce a resolution that would go much further. It would end all financing for the deployment of American military forces in Iraq after six months, other than a limited number working on counterterrorism operations or training the Iraqi army and police. In effect, it would call for all other American forces to be withdrawn by the six-month deadline."

Once again, if I may repeat myself: This is why it was so important for Democrats to take back Congress in November. Whatever comes of this, at least options other than the one pushed by Bush and his Republican rubber stampers in Congress are on the table. At least we're having this discussion.

At least Democrats are in a position to put an end to the madness.

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But the debate is more fundamental than Iraq, for it concerns constitutional war powers more generally. Make sure to read the Times article linked above for details. And also make sure to check out Glenn Greenwald, who reminds us that Republicans were fully in favour of congressional checks on presidential authority with respect to war when they were in the majority and Clinton was in the White House. In other words, they were in favour of congressional war powers before they were against them.

Hypocrisy? Of course. What else is new?

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