The Democrats should not have caved in to the president. They should have continued to send him bills with a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. So he vetoes them. Eventually the president himself would cut off funds for the troops.
As an alternative, Congress could inform the president that unless he accepts a timetable for withdrawal, Congress will stop funding the war. If the Democrats are sincere in their claimed desire to end the war, this is the way to do it.
The power of the purse rests firmly in the hands of Congress. No matter what the president desires to do, if Congress refuses to fund it, the president is helpless. He cannot spend a dime that Congress has not authorized and appropriated.
The American people should realize this and understand it clearly. The power to end the war in Iraq rests entirely in the hands of Congress. No president can force Congress to authorize and appropriate any money at all, for any purpose.
Thus, a majority in the House and Senate, if they truly desire to end the war, have the power to do so right this very moment. The president can only veto a bill he receives; he cannot veto a bill that doesn’t exist. Therefore, Congress can simply ignore his requests for war funding and go about its business as if it had never received any. When the ammunition, petrol and other supplies run out, the president and the Pentagon will have no choice but to withdraw from Iraq.
Democrats, of course, are afraid of being accused of "not supporting the troops." This is a contradiction. You can’t end a war and continue to support troops who are fighting it at the same time. The only way to end the war is to pull the plug. Wars cannot be fought without money. Once a president realizes that no more money is coming, he will have no choice but to begin a withdrawal.
The war party in this country, which consists mainly of Republicans but also includes some Democrats, are as fond of slogans as Hitler’s Third Reich. One such slogan is that if we pull out of Iraq, the "enemy" will follow us home. That’s propaganda and devoid of truth.
Those enemies in Iraq who just want us out of their country will not follow us home. They have no reason to do so. Lord knows they will have enough to do just trying to salvage their country. As for al-Qaeda, it doesn’t have to follow us home; it’s already here. Al-Qaeda is neither a nation nor an army; it’s a movement, and it maneuvers through the Internet. Bush’s slogan implies that our forces are tying al-Qaeda’s forces down in Iraq. Most of al-Qaeda’s people are not even in Iraq.
What the war is doing is assisting al-Qaeda in recruiting individuals. Starting with the first Gulf War and continuing with the sanctions, the United States has visited upon Iraq immense destruction, pain and suffering. The Iraqi people never did anything to deserve that. I seriously doubt the Iraqi people will ever forgive us. If I were an Iraqi, I wouldn’t.
The only way to put an end to terrorism is for the United States to begin to undo some of the evil it has done. We have wronged the Iraqi people. We have wronged the Palestinian people. Whenever anyone decides to kill Palestinians, we always side with their killers, as the U.S. does with Israel and now with the Lebanese Army, so busy shelling a Palestinian refugee camp. Where was this Lebanese Army when Israel invaded Lebanon? It was hiding. I don’t see how any of the Lebanese Army can stand to look in a mirror.
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.
© 2007 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.