February 12, 2007

Why Are the Pascifists So Passive?

An op-ed from the NYT by Lynn Chu and John Yoo:

...The fact is, Congress has every power to end the war — if it really wanted to. It has the power of the purse. Its British forebears in Parliament micromanaged the monarchy quite a bit, for instance by making money (the “sinews of war”) contingent on attacking one country and making peace with another. And there is more direct precedent: In 1973, Congress affirmatively acted to cut off funds for Vietnam. It also cut off money for the Nicaraguan contras with the Boland Amendment in 1982.

Not only could Congress cut off money, it could require scheduled troop withdrawals, shrink or eliminate units, or freeze weapons supplies. It could even repeal or amend the authorization to use force it passed in 2002.

A pullout, however, would have no chance of success, because its supporters are likely to lack the two-thirds majority necessary to override a presidential veto. But to stop President Bush’s proposed troop surge, Congress doesn’t have to do anything. It can just sit back and fail to enact the periodic supplemental spending measures required to keep the war going. Congress has wielded considerable power by just threatening such measures, as with President James K. Polk in the Mexican-American War and President Ronald Reagan in Lebanon after the 1983 barracks bombing.

The Constitution doesn’t pick winners. It leaves it to the three branches to use their unique powers to struggle for supremacy. James Madison, the leading intellectual force behind the Constitution, rebutted Patrick Henry’s firebrand attack on executive war powers during the Virginia ratifying convention by reminding him that Congress could control any renegade president by stopping the flow of money.

But with power comes responsibility. The truth is that this Congress is not sure what to do in Iraq. Its hesitation reflects America’s uncertainty and divisions. Antiwar bluster is high at the moment, echoing popular frustration and grim news from Baghdad.

1 comment:

GFO said...

A good war is impossible to find! Iraq... a modern "Splendid Little War" that never was and never will be. Christianity? The Puritan foundations of New England are shocking and morally deep gray: betrayal, murder, genocide. From Zinn's "People History of the US" through to -- I forget the young lady's name who wrote -- "The rape of Nanking" and onward, our collective global history is one of much darkness. In your own text -- thought provoking and a great informative/yet personal read -- Max Von Sydow's line of despair speaks to the adversary as such despair often leads to light or dark. The battlefield is the human mind in many ways. Sydow also notes, the demon tells lies..would like to confuse you... The landscape where he/it/evil really operates is the mind. Within the medium of film, as we see in "Saving Private Ryan".. doing the decent thing is costly and goes against many grains.

I would be curious as to what you think of "The Wild Bunch" by Peckinpah, and Eastwood's "Unforgiven" afterredaing your book..