Congress now and then does something really dopey. But for sheer and utter stupidity it is difficult to top their wanting to pass, during a time of war, a resolution admonishing the commander-in-chief for a tactical military move.
It is a nonbinding resolution, of course, as in: We know it doesn’t actually change anything, but, hey, who cares? We’ve figured out how to have our cake and eat it, too.
Members of Congress may be required to take an oath that they will support and defend the Constitution of the United States, but, as such folly as we have been witnessing reminds us, they are not also required actually to know what it says.
It’s the president, not Congress, the Constitution charges with deciding and implementing the conduct of our country’s wars. It says Congress gets to decide if (Article I, section 8), but the president decides how (Article II, section 2). The Constitution assigns Congress no advise and consent role in the actual conducting of our wars.
Besides the affront to the Constitution, what we have been witnessing demonstrates a frightening lack of clear thinking and common sense. These congressmen have been undermining the morale of our troops, uplifting the spirit of our enemies, and making fools of themselves.
The mind-bogglingly silly spectacle, revealing at the same time, has Senate Democrats stridently condemning a tactical military plan while lavishly praising the general who devised it and then wishing him “Godspeed” and “success” in carrying it out while simultaneously proclaiming that it cannot succeed. It is an incoherence that can be due only to idiocy or indifference.
Congressional Democrats claim, and the media echoes, that one of the things that brought this about is that the president does not have an “exit plan.” But he does, and it’s the very same “exit plan” our country had in World War II and every prior war: victory. Being a congressional Democrat nowadays means never having to want America to win.
The media tell us that many members of Congress of both parties are “frustrated” with seeing the violence of war on television day after day. Violence is upsetting. War is no fun to watch. Very true. Adults should understand that war is made up of such things. And members of Congress should do better than feign surprise at this stark reality and wail that it frustrates them. Frustration neither justifies nor excuses foolish behavior.
Just imagine if prior Congresses had decided to pass judgment on past presidents’ execution of wars. What sort of resolution might they have come up with to undermine President Roosevelt when General Eisenhower had all those troops poised in Britain for an attack across the English Channel? They’d probably have admonished the president that history was against us: Phillip of Spain couldn’t do it; Napoleon couldn’t do it. Why, they’d probably say smugly, even Hitler was smart enough not to try.
Later we’d hear: You can’t possibly go along with permitting General MacArthur to make a landing at Inchon, they might have admonished President Truman in a non-binding resolution. It can never succeed. Just study the tides.
If such things didn’t happen, it was because former Congresses understood their constitutional role — and, moreover, they wanted the United States to emerge victorious over its enemies.
The Founders of the American republic had reasons for setting up the division of responsibilities between Congress and the president regarding the matter of war — good reasons that make great sense.
The nonbinding-resolution charade of our current Democratic Congress makes no sense. It’s a pathetic performance, showbiz in lieu of statesmanship.
– Fred J. Eckert is a former Reagan administration U.S. Ambassador to Fiji and to the United Nations Food and Agriculture agencies in Rome. He is also a former conservative Republican congressman from New York. He is retired and lives with his wife in Raleigh, N.C.