The Cowards of Congress

June, 2007

American soldiers who have been sent to Iraq are now being killed there at a rate of 3 or 4 every day. That's two dozen a week, more than 100 men and women each month who will die in order to sustain the illegal occupation of a sovereign nation.

There will almost certainly be 300 more dead soldiers and 3,000 more wounded by Sept. 1, when our government will provide the American people with a progress report. After that date, more soldiers will die so that our government can keep a military presence in a country it invaded without cause. The only questions left are how many more will be killed, and how long will our government continue to sacrifice their lives?

The blood of every soldier killed in Iraq stains the hands of not only the President and Vice President, but also everyone who ever voted to fund the military invasion and occupation of Iraq. That includes 280 of our current members in the House of Representatives and 80 of our Senators who just voted to spend more tax money to keep American troops in Iraq.

It doesn't matter if they are Republican or Democrat; it doesn't matter if they are enthusiastic supporters or reluctant enablers of this act of aggression that violates international law. What matters is the absolute failure of both House and Senate - but especially the Senate – to exercise their Constitutional responsibility to determine national policy, especially military policy.

House Appropriations Chairman David Obey, who voted against the latest funding package, stated his disappointment by saying, "I hate this agreement. We simply did not have the votes to force the president to change policy."

Under the Constitution, the President does not set any national policy; he can only implement the policies set by Congress. The President does not command Congress; he is accountable to Congress.

Under the Constitution, only Congress can authorize military action. Only Congress can authorize funds to support a military action. If Congress withdraws funding, then the troops must come home.

The President is commander-in-chief of the armed forces only; he can conduct a Congressionally approved military action any way he deems best, within the existing military budget, but he must ask Congress for all supplemental funds, materials and troops necessary for any large-scale actions.

Many of the 360 elected officials who approved the recent supplemental request will explain their vote as Supporting The Troops On The Ground. They say that as if soldiers would be stuck in Iraq without proper equipment if they didn't get more money; they say it as if soldiers would go hungry or be forced to go on patrol without ammunition or without a medic to treat the wounded.

Here's how we all can best Support Our Troops – train them well and provide them with the best equipment; pay them a wage that truly reflects their importance to society; give them a clear, honorable mission and a way home; and take proper care of those who fall along the way. Anything else is politics at its worst.

A vote to continue funding the illegal occupation of Iraq has nothing to do with Supporting The Troops. Those "aye" votes were cast out of political fear or in defiance of the framework of the American Republic. They stand for cowardice, or they stand for subservience to a Unitary President, a Strong Leader who promises to Protect Our Children at any cost.

Those "aye" votes were cast in support of an act that violates international law. They cannot be justified under any standard of common humanity.

The cost of all this ... wrongness ... is the blood of American soldiers and Iraqi citizens flowing into the sands of Arabia every day, symbolically mixing with the oil pumped out of that same sand every day. Those lives will continue to be sacrificed to provide American access to oil that doesn't belong to us and to prop up a false promise of safety here at home.


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