Thoughts on the decision to fund the Iraq war

After the most recent Iraq funding vote (House roll call, Senate roll call), I was pretty pissed that Congress had backed down to President Bush. I, like many others who wanted to end our military involvement in Iraq, was of the opinion that Congress should have passed the same bill over and over to force the President to sign it. I thought backing down showed that Congress was spineless. As I've thought about it more, I've changed my mind.

Essentially passing the bill over and over again would be an endurance contest with the President. I came up with a clever metaphor to describe how I thought this would play out: it would be like playing chicken with a suicide car-bomber. Bush is undeterrable and has no problem with using the United States military as political hostages. He believes that he is right on this issue and there is absolutely nothing that will be able to convince him otherwise. Meanwhile, every time the bill is re-passed by Congress, more and more members of Congress and the Senate would be peeled off by the Whitehouse, and we would have ended up with a bill without benchmarks anyway.

In the end I guess I am OK with the Democrats who voted against the bill on principle, knowing it would probably pass anyway, yet I also agree with the Congressmen and Senators who voted for the bill so we didn't have to go through this process ten times, leading to the same result.

Congressman Joe Sestak (D-PA), who voted for the bill without benchmarks, explains his vote:
We are presently taking money from the gas, etc, of those troops training in America and using that money until it runs out in July for troops in Iraq (by law, you cannot shift money between procurement accounts into money to operate and provide supplies to our troops; there are legal firewalls preventing that). It took us 6 months to redeploy from Somalia safely after Black Hawk Down. With alot more troops (140,000) and thousands of US civilians, it will take at least that long to safely come out via the roads or by limited flights from Iraq. There was no back room deal. This is one purely where we would would run out in July of the resources needed to protect our troops. There would be more causualties than one might imagine, if we tried, in the next 40 days, to get everyone out.
That is why I have been persistent that a date certain (my bill says 31 december) with sufficient time, is not only the right strategy to leave behind an unfailed state, but is also one to protect those we, America, sent to war, while doing so. Even if we all disagree with that war. I will never, ever, play chicken with the sons and daughters of America, and put them in greater danger by voting for a bill that gives them no funds to protect themselves in the next 5-7 weeks. I understand if you disagree, but these are Americans we sent in harms way, and I will never vote to make them less safe as I work to redeploy them in a timely and safe manner.


Pat said...

it sucks ass that the only recourse available to lawmakers who oppose the war is to cut funding. the troops are the ones who that affects most directly, and the administration can go after anyone voting for it with the "you don't support the troops" bullshit. its built in defeat. even if they did cut funding, my bet is halliburton's profits wouldnt be the ones taking the hit.

isn't there anything else congress can do? i almost feel like we should amend the constitution to give the president full executive powers in war when we're being invaded. not really, but its fucking frustrating to watch congress spinning its wheels, pretty much powerless to do anything. unless they have some option i'm not aware of.

Adrian said...

David Obey (D-Wi) is trying to, instead of withdrawing funding, de-authorizing the war. However if Congress does that, Bush will probably argue that he can have his war anyway (he might actually be right, I don't know the constitutionality).