Senate Foreign Relations committee spent much of last week hearing testimony about
Iraq. A second U.S. invasion of Iraq seems a foregone conclusion, as the testimony
focused not on the wisdom of such an invasion, but rather only on how and when
it should be done. Never mind that our own State department and CIA have stated
that Iraq is not involved in terrorism; never mind that we're not discussing
some of our so-called allies like Saudi Arabia, which actually funded and harbored
those responsible for September 11th. None of those testifying questioned for
a minute the President's absolute authority to order a military invasion
expert not invited to testify at the Senate hearings was Scott Ritter.
Mr. Ritter is a Republican, a twelve-year veteran of the Marine Corps, a former
intelligence officer, and a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq. He is a widely
respected expert on the region, having dealt directly with Iraqi officials and
he is a very harsh critic of Saddam Hussein. The only problem is that he disagrees
with the President and Congress about our war plans, arguing that Iraq poses no
military threat to the United States. So although he is perhaps the most qualified
person in Washington to speak on the subject, his viewpoint was not heard.
C-SPAN last week, Mr. Ritter called the Senate hearings nothing less than a "sham,"
likening them to a "Stalinist kangaroo court" rather than a real inquiry
designed to educate Senators with facts about Iraq.
one agrees with Mr. Ritter's views or not, it's clear the Senate conducted
nothing more than show hearings designed to support the predetermined conclusion
that America must invade Iraq.
most fundamental question before Congress whether the legislative branch once
again will ignore its constitutional duty to declare war remains unasked. The
undeclared wars of the last 50 years including Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo, and Iraq
represent nothing less than congressional cowardice, an unwillingness by members
to carry out their sworn legislative duties. The result is an increasingly powerful
presidency, and a terrible violation of the constitutional separation of powers.
is war, no matter what we call it. When we bomb another country, when we send
troops, planes, and warships to attack it, we are at war. Calling war a "police
action" or a "peacekeeping mission" does not change the reality.
War constitutionally cannot be waged by executive order the President's
status as Commander-in-Chief gives him authority only to execute war, not initiate
it. The Constitution requires a congressional declaration of war precisely because
the founders wanted the most representative branch of government, not an imperial
President, to make the grave decision to send our young people into harm's
way. We owe it to those young people and the Constitution to have a sober congressional
debate before we initiate war in Iraq.