Posted by: Jim | January 16, 2007

No Money, No War.

Bravado is the final refuge of an impotent leader. In Bush’s case, it’s been working for him for quite some time. But yesterday was a blatant act of bravado when he proclaimed that Congress could not stop him with his plans for troop surges in Iraq.He is incorrect. They can.

The Vietnam War, which is so often compared to the Iraq Occupation, was limited and ultimately stopped through this very method. In 1970, The Cooper-Church amendment to the U.S. defense appropriations bill forbid the use of any U.S. ground forces in Laos or Cambodia. Granted, this law was broken by Nixon, but it became yet another black mark on his record. Later, after Nixon had promised South Vietnamese President Thieu that he would escalate bombing, Congress refused to pay for it. This brave act by Congress was the death knell for the Vietnam War. This sent a powerful and effective reminder to the White House: The President is not solely in command of our forces. No, he shares that power with Congress. The Constitution was designed specifically to prevent a hare-brained military excursion led by a single misinformed individual. Check out this Wikipedia entry on the Vietnam War. Specifically, let me quote:“In December 1974, the Democratic majority in Congress passed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, which cut off all military funding to the South Vietnamese government and made unenforceable the peace terms negotiated by Nixon. Nixon, threatened with impeachment because of Watergate, had resigned his office. Gerald R. Ford, Nixon’s vice-president stepped in to finish his term. The new president vetoed the Foreign Assistance Act, but his veto was overridden by Congress.”

So the fact is, Congress can stop President Bush’s surge of troops. If Bush were to use one of his signing statements to overturn an appropriations bill, it might just be the last signing statement he ever makes. He’s never done it yet, by the way.


  1. The reason the Iraq war is compared to the Vietnam war is because it was our last major war. Desert Shield/Storm was a completely different conflict, for completely different reasons. All they have in common is that they are wars. We didn’t start this one, but we will finish it. Vietnam was a mistake. Iraq is not.

    Bush may be bleeding testosterone right now, but at least it is for the right reasons. If he is stopped, well then, our process works, doesn’t it? It would be a damn shame to perpetuate a war to its end with a thinned out military that desperately needs more troops to not only be more effective, but to get the job done faster. Even Hillary Rodham Clinton supports the war, or perhaps that’s just presidential posturing? Maybe she’s as big a waffler as her husband and will change her mind in the near future. Bush is not the only one behind the surge, he has many supporters, and I don’t mean in the arena of public opinion.

    All I’m saying is, if you don’t deploy more troops, and like ALL of us, we’d like this war to end sooner ratherr than later, what do you propose we do instead? I hear a lot of whining without presentation of alternate solutions. So Jim, you get what you want – Bush’s ‘surge plan’ is somehow stopped. Are you in this just so you can point a finger and say, “Ha ha, Bush is wrong!”, or is there something better to bring to the table? Sorry to be so antagonistic, but that’s how I see this post.

  2. I’m baffled, Todd. I’m merely pointing out the historical precedence that Congress can stop the surge, and you see me as someone who takes joy in saying that the President is wrong. There is no joy here, Todd. None.

    Let me respond point by point:

    1. The reason Iraq is compared to Vietnam is because they are both Quagmires. We got in and had no good method of getting out. We bit off more than we could chew in both cases. They were both ill-conceived and poorly handled. And we will have lost both.
    2. And Todd … WE DID START THIS ONE. Are you out of your mind? How exactly did Iraq start this war with the US? And Iraq is indeed a mistake, a HUGE mistake. I believe you are in favor of the surge because now you can blame the Democrats when it all goes south. These four years of debating will never force your hand, and you will never have to admit that you were wrong all along. It’ll be the Liberals’ fault.
    3. What has Hillary got to do with this? Are you using her to support your argument, or to criticize her? Make up your mind.
    4. And lastly, you conveniently place the burden on ME to solve the problem, and accuse me of whining. How nice. OK, here’s your solution: All 79 Recommendations put forth by the Iraq Study Group. Have you read it? Or are you too busy to be bothered with such details?

  3. Poor, poor Todd. Once you drink the kool-aid, it’s in your veins and there’s no way to get it out. It paralyzes the mind and blinds the soul.

    I believe Todd, like lots of other completely misguided Americans, has a good heart. He thinks he understands the situation and he, like those who share his myopic, propagandized worldview, thinks that there is an easy solution. And the typical (yawn) response people like that tend to give to criticism is “OH YEAH? YOU GOT A BETTER IDEA?” Well, Todd, if you were in the process of robbing a bank, and the police showed up, and you decided to shoot your way out, I would say that was a suicidal solution. You would respond with “OH YEAH? GOT A BETTER IDEA?” To which I would reply, “Yes — you should have decided not to do something so stupid as to rob a bank. Like maybe get a job, or sell your sperm, or eat out of a fucking dumpster.” Then I would probably say “but now, since you have opted to get yourself stuck in a stupid, impossible situation, the best idea would be to give up, go to jail and take your punishment like a man.”

    We are not going to ‘win’ in Iraq. In fact, we never had a plan to ‘win’ in the first place. The short-sighted reactionaries in charge simply decided to topple Saddam Hussein and let the chips fall where they may. Well, they fell on top of us.

    Throwing more troops at the situation will only get more troops killed, and enrage more of the populace into joining the terrorists, and further alienate us from just about everybody. If one operates on the now nearly-defunct Postwar assumption that American Might will always prevail, one has merely to look at Vietnam, which occurred when we were in a MUCH more powerful position in the world, to debunk that position.

    Again, you insist, like your clueless neocon brothers, that the nebulous ‘War On Terrorism’ and the war in Iraq are the same thing. And of course, that is what the terrorists WANT you to believe, because the whole point of terrorism is to take some small group’s grievance and make a world case out of it. There is nothing a group of terrorists LOVES more than rousing a powerful nation into all-out conflict, because normally they would just be a bunch of misfits causing havoc until they are quietly dispatched by some covert agency. Their objectives are only accomplished if they GO BIG. Which, of course, we have done FOR them in the biggest and worst way possible.

    If Iraq is now the ‘front line in the War On Terrorism’, it is because we MADE it that way with our bungling. And I will agree with you on one thing, Todd. Iraq IS no Vietnam. In that war, we were defending one (recently) sovereign nation from another, based on our perception of some mythical ‘domino theory’ that made Communist Expansion our enemy. When we left it as a lost cause, the South fell to the North and we suffered, at best, humiliation that one of our adventures had gone awry. There were no Vietnamese Terrorists aching to take their suicidal revenge; in fact, ideology was only a political tool in that war, and it was really about a country that had been artificially divided by Western Powers that ended up reunified despite our meddling. The End.

    Iraq, however, was a nation minding its own business. You can say all you like about Saddam Hussein, and none of us will argue that the guy wasn’t a complete rat. But there are lots of rats running countries all over the place, and some of them have given us far more provocation to invade them (i.e. North Korea), but we haven’t. In fact, it is not official American policy to invade ANYBODY; we at the very least PRETEND to be a peace-loving nation, even when our leaders don’t always act that way. At any rate, when we give up and walk away in defeat in Iraq — which we will; it’s only a matter of time and body count — we will leave a mess that will haunt us for generations. We have bolstered Terrorism in the same way that Prohibition bolstered organized crime; we have helped them organize, recruit, and learn new and more deadly tactics. We have turned a bunch of misfit hooligans into an organized force to be reckoned with, and further fueled their reasons for despising and targeting us. When we leave, Iraq will descend into chaos, and Iran will benefit, and the seeds of World War III will have been irrevocably sown. If we stay bogged down in this hopeless war, the same thing will happen — only we will have fewer and fewer troops and fewer and fewer funds and fewer and fewer abilities to prevent what is probably, at this point, now inevitable.

    Plans to attack Iraq were on the table long before 9/11, and we all know it wasn’t about WMDs or Terrorists. it was about economics and oil and power and Corporate imperialism. Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex over 40 years ago, and he was a Republican, Todd.

    He was also, unlike our current idiotic wannabe-warrior, a man who had led great armies to victory against significant odds. And he was a man who loved peace, and who, I believe, would be calling for George Bush’s head if he were alive to see the nightmare Dubya hath wrought.

    * * *

  4. I just love reading Bri’s comments. Thank you, the time you spend assembling your thoughts is time well spent.

    Also, I am glad Jim picked up the same thread as myself, when he surmised that the Right will use Congressional opposition to the ‘escalation’ to finger Democrats as responsible for their ‘plan’ not working. This is analogous to somebody claiming that their Beanstalk didn’t grow because YOU wouldn’t water the Magic Beans.

  5. Yes, Bri has a talent for assembling such thoughts and laying them down in record time.

  6. Thank y’all for your support. It ain’t easy being sane.


    * * *

  7. Heheh … hehehehh …. Bri thinks he’s sane.

  8. no comment. 😉

  9. Well, when you have people in your blog commenting that, yes, a ‘nuclear option IS on the table’, I qualify, by comparison at least, as most assuredly SANE.

    Either that, or I am completely INsane, and I am hallucinating all of this.

    As a generous sort of soul, I rather wish it were the latter. But alas, I doubt it.

    * * *

  10. venganz “not tinfoil, just plain dangerous” has disappeared since my response to that post of theirs. it’s a shame as i had cleared a window in my schedule to issue a further reply. but i know they’re out there somewhere, denying climate change and reading Michelle Malkin…

  11. of course congress CAN stop it, but will they? i doubt it. as bri pointed out so succinctly, the situation is an impossible, tangled mess. you cut funding for new troops it also cuts funding for the troops already there. obviously not the only issue, but one that will be used for the sake of argument, i’m sure.

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