The "Do Over!" Caucus Gets Two New Members
Sens. Warner and Lugar Seek to Turn Back Time
By Mark I Posted in Featured Stories | War — Comments (18) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Republican Senators John Warner (R-VA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) are out today with their much-anticipated proposal for a way forward in Iraq. Just one catch, it’s not a way forward, but a trip backwards. The Senators introduced an amendment to the Defense Appropriation Bill that would require the president to seek a new Congressional authorization for continued military operation in Iraq.
”Many of the conditions and motivations that existed when we authorized force almost five years ago no longer exist or are irrelevant to our current situation,” Mr. Lugar said. He went on, saying the 2002 war authorization is “obsolete and requires revision.”
This was a bad idea when Sen. Hillary!™ Clinton proposed a similar amendment, and it didn’t get any better once a Republican’s name was attached.
The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 is five pages long. The first three contain all the Whereas Clauses. Most of these are there to lay out the history of the United States’ conflict with Iraq. With the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, most of these have indeed been satisfied. Seven of the clauses, however, do not refer to the previous regime or its activities and are the ones that are operative today.
Whereas members of al Qaida [sic], an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq; […]
Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations; […]
Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;
Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;
Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;
Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40); and
Whereas it is in the national security interests of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region: Now, therefore,…
These clauses make it quite clear that not only is Iraq part of the Global War on Terrorism, but to leave Iraq would be a declaration of that war’s end. Senator Lugar’s statement that the AUMF is “obsolete” is only true if all of the following are true as well:
• "al-Qaida" is no longer in Iraq.
• "[T]he acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations" is no longer a threat to the United States.
• It is no longer the sense of Congress that the United States should "promote the emergence of a democratic government" in Iraq.
• Congress no longer plans to take steps to "pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations."
• Congress is no longer determined to "continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations."
• Congress no longer recognizes that the president "has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States."
• It is no longer in the national security interests of the United States to "restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region."
I don’t believe that Senators Warner and Lugar would agree to any of the above, but that is what the Senate will be declaring if their amendment passes. When Sen. Clinton proposed revoking the president’s authority to use force in Iraq, she was doing so as a sop to the ant-war base of the Democratic party and to enhance her chances of being her party’s presidential nominee. She was also looking to deflect criticism from the left of her vote to provide that authority. That is not the case here. Sen. Warner is up for reelection in 2008, but I do not attribute political backside covering to him as a motive. Rather, both men appear to be motivated by a desire to end the bickering in Congress.
“Senator Warner and I recognize that there is broad disagreement in Congress on what I have called the ‘binary choice between surge and withdrawal,’ ” Mr. Lugar said. “Nevertheless, we also have sensed a palpable desire in this body to achieve greater bipartisanship.”
Their proposal would not just end the bickering, were it ever to become law through a veto override vote, but it would effectively end the war. No new authorization could pass a Congress under Democratic control. Not as long as there is a Republican president. For as much as Sens. Warner and Lugar don’t want the United States to lose the War in Iraq, their Democratic colleagues don’t want to be blamed for losing it. That is why they can’t get the votes to simply cut off the funds for the war. Proposals like this one only give the Democrats cover to continue undermining the war effort with their show votes and political stunts.
None of us get to go back in time, much as we’d like to. The Iraq War has not been the picture of perfect management to be sure, but it is a war, not a pick-up game. Senators cannot simply say “Do Over!” and expect to move past the argument over the rules. People’s lives are at stake. Here is the rule: if you don’t win completely and totally, you lose. That’s it. There are no half-victories. Not losing does not equal winning, however, not winning does constitute losing. To win, the United States needs one day’s more determination than her enemies have. It does not need up-to-date Congressional resolutions. Sens. Warner and Lugar may be well intentioned, but intentions don’t win wars either. Armies do. Sens. Warner and Lugar, and indeed the entire Congress, would do better to remember that, get out from in front of our brave troops, and get behind them.