Monday, November 13, 2006

How does this work, exactly?
The Professor quotes Andrew Olmsted, who comments:

I see that the Democrats are now ready to start pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq. While I suppose this is no surprise, I'm disappointed to see it. The Democrats have rightly pointed out that Republicans acted without gathering all appropriate data, leading to problems like Iraq. Yet now they're poised to do precisely the same thing.
My question is: how can they do that? My understanding is that the Constitution gives the right to conduct war to the President, and the right to declare war to the Congress. Presidents circumvented this (think Vietnam and Korea) by declaring "police actions" and the like, until the 1973 War Powers Resolution (commonly known as the War Powers Act, although an act requires a presidential signature, which the resolution lacks), which declares that a president can commit military forces for no more than 60 days (90 days following a request to Congress and military necessity) without a congressional declaration.

So here's the problem: Congress approved the action in Iraq. How can they withdraw troops short of cutting funding for the war?

To be clear: I do not intend this as a criticism of the Dems—you've had plenty of that from me. I just don't understand how Congress has the authority to determine conduct of the war except by cutting off the funding (which is politically not viable, as it would be too easy to spin as a lack of support for the troops).

Can anyone clear that up for me?

Also, I want to be clear on another point: I am not opposed to a staged withdrawl of American troops. I haven't decided in favor of it yet, but I'm also not strictly against it. I think that I could probably get behind a proposal like the one found on dcfb here and here.

A cut-and-run without the appropriate precautions and continued engagement of the enemy will not be met with support from this blog.

1 comment:

Dave Justus said...

Congress does not have the direct power to force a withdrawal of the troops, although it does have, as you have noted, the power to cut the funding for the war which would necessitate the withdrawal of troops.

Congress could also pass a resolution that the troops should be withdrawn, just as it has passed resolutions in the past supporting the war in Iraq. While these resolutions don't have any direct effect, they would cause signifigant political pressure and pave the way for more drastic measures (such as cutting funding) if the President simply ignored them.