Sign The Democracy Project's Petition Here
Congress must use its constitutional powers under the War Powers Resolution to place limits on the unauthorized US military intervention in Iraq and Syria. By executive order alone, our government is plunging into a deepening sectarian war. Congressional debate can shed light on this new war, and a Congressional vote can allow American citizens to hold our elected representatives accountable in 2016. While pledging "no US ground troops", the administration has dispatched 3,000 American troops as advisers and to provide close air support in combat zones, where they will come under fire. The bombing campaign cost$580 million through mid-October, and the president is asking for a down payment of $5 billion for a war projected to last three years.
Starting with serious public debate, a new peace movement is needed to stop the drift towards quagmire.
Led by a handful of dissenters, Congressional opposition was critical in ending the Vietnam War, and in bringing the most recent Iraq War to a formal ending. The checks and balances, which were imposed by Congress on the powers of the presidency and intelligence agencies in the 1970s, have fallen away.
Since the president says there is no military solution, the Congress should vote no against another war in the Middle East. Should Congress vote in favor, crucial amendments are needed to prevent another open-ended war. The "enemy" must be narrowly defined. The pledge of "no American ground troops" must be codified. A sunset must be placed on the authorization so that Congress is compelled to vote again before 2016. Independent reporting on taxpayer costs and civilian casualties must be assured. A political settlement that protects disenfranchised and oppressed Sunnis from the US-sponsored Shiite regime in Baghdad must be assured.
Many Americans rightly oppose the shocking religious extremism of the Islamic State and embrace our military action. Forgotten in the rush to war is the fact that we have been at this abyss before. The US invasion of Iraq in 2003 preceded the growth of Al Qaeda there. ISIS became its malignant offshoot in Sunni regions repressed by our client state in Baghdad. Is this not a case where the military medicine worsens the disease? The last Iraq War led to long-term costs in thousands of lives lost and trillions of dollars wasted which should have been spent on the environment, education and jobs. We simply cannot afford to repeat the past.
TO: MEMBERS, U.S. CONGRESS
FROM: The Democracy Project
We call for a full debate on whether to authorize the widening new war in Iraq and Syria. A congressional vote will allow citizens to hold their elected representatives accountable now and in 2016.
Since President Obama already says there is no military solution and the war will last at least three years, we urge a No vote.
If the new war is authorized, the following conditions must be debated and voted on:
1. A narrow definition of "the enemy" - the Islamic State - no loophole to a wider war as occurred in the war-on-terrorism, where an open-ended mandate led to wars and quagmires in many other countries;
2. Keep the presidential pledge that there will be no American ground troops; already that promise has changed to no "combat" troops;
3. A sunset provision ending the war authorization in one year, thus requiring another Congressional approval before 2016;
4. An independent reporting mechanism for all casualties, civilian casualties, direct and indirect taxpayer costs, and measurements of progress;
5. A primary emphasis on diplomacy aimed at power sharing among disenfranchised communities and a prohibition against funding sectarian war.
Wars are easy for politicians to approve. But history shows that lives and resources are needlessly lost, and careers ruined, when they become quagmires.