Kennedy: "Is there any American in this country who thinks the United States Senate would vote to support sending American troops into a civil war in Iraq today?

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By Bruce B. Brugmann

This is a quote that makes the critical political point:

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), in an interview published in the New York
Times on Tuesday, continued, "Is there any American that believes this? I don't think so, but that is what's happening, and we have to do everything we can to to insist on accountability."

Kennedy said he will introduce legislation on Tuesday to require the president to get new Congressional authority before sending more troops to Iraq, according to a story by Jeff Zeleny. Kennedy is proposing the first bill in the Senate that would prohibit paying for an increase in American troops over their level on Jan. l. The Kennedy plan is intended to provide Democrats with a road map on how to proceed in Iraq.

Kennedy said that Congress interceded during conflicts in Vietnam and Lebanon, and Democrats should not hesitate to do so in Iraq.

"By law," the article said, "Congress can limit the nature of troop deployment, cap the size of military deployments and cut financing for existing or prospective deployments." To those who claim Congress ought not to cut off funds or intercede, the article pointed out that "since l970, there have been dozens of occasions in which Congress has tried to step into military action, from Haiti to Bosnia to Kosovo," and it pointed its source as a memorandum being circulated Tuesday to Congress by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

The memorandum, linked below, cites specific examples of congressional intervention from the l970 Church-Cooper amendment that prohibited the use of any funds for the introduction of U.S. troops into Cambodia to the June l998 Congressional prohibition of funding for Bosnia after June 30, l998. It also included additional examples where congressional efforts to influence policy were not enacted into law, from a l994 move by then Senator Jesse Helms to prohibit funding for any U.S. military operations on Haiti to the prescient 2002 move by Rep. Spratt to require the president to seek congressional authority before using military force against Iraq without a UN resolution.

As the memo sums up, the "defeated provisions reflect attempts by Congress to shape the president's policy on military deployments. Taken alongside the several examples listed above that were enacted into law, they demonstrate that the president should expect that Congress can and will shape U.S.
policy as it relates to military deployments."

So: there is plenty of precedent and no excuse for Congress not to fight back fast and effectively to the president's upcoming surge speech. Nancy? Nancy Pelosi to her credit is speaking up and rightlyi calling the surge "escalation" and proposing that Democrats consider blocking funds for any increase in troops. Keep it up. Support the Kennedy proposal or anything stronger. Keep the pressure on Nancy and the Congress. If these moves don't work, as they probably won't, then the question is: impeachment or continuing to waste the blood and treasure of the U.S. in a civil war without end. Alas, there is no other choice. B3

Center for American Progress: Congressional Limitations and Requirements for Military Deployments and Funding