The House of Representatives could vote as early as this week on whether to authorize Iraq War III.
On July 11, Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced an unusual joint resolution, H. Con. Res. 105, under the procedures outlined by the War Powers Resolution that is expected to lead to a vote this week or next on whether to pull U.S. troops out. Congress should seize its traditional war-making powers to reject a new war in Iraq.
In 1990-91, Iraq War I, also called Operation Desert Storm or the Gulf War, produced a coalition of 34 nations led by the United States to reverse Saddam Hussein’s brutal invasion and annexation of Kuwait. Congress voted to authorize the use of force.
That war was a walk in the park compared to the invasion of Iraq by President George W. Bush in 2003 to depose Hussein and combat his never-found weapons of mass destruction. To the regret of many Members of Congress who at the time voted “yes,” Congress authorized that war in 2002. That war lasted nine years at the cost of 4,500 American lives and, according to one study, 500,000 Iraqi lives. Linda Bilmes, a Harvard expert in public finance, estimated that the total cost of the Iraq war will be $4 trillion
Now: Iraq War III? In June 2014, following military aggression by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, President Barack Obama announced that 300 personnel would be sent to Iraq, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support, augmented by Apache attack helicopters and drones. A few days later, he declared another 200 personnel were soon to be deployed. . Yet the Pentagon press secretary promises there is no mission creep.
However, as the United States knows from past, bitter experience in Vietnam, a small military engagement can escalate into a major military war that is disastrous for our national interest. There is little a few hundred or a few thousand troops can do in today’s Iraq that 140,000 could not do at the height of American involvement in Iraq War II.
This sad truth has not stopped calls for escalation from those who brought us that disaster. Recently, Michael O’Hanlon, one of the promoters of Iraq War II, advocated sending up to 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.”
Dick Cheney, one of the key architects of the 2003 war, wants the U.S. to intervene again and blames President Obama for the disaster there.
The McGovern-Jones-Lee privileged resolution directs the President to remove U.S. troops from Iraq within 30 days, or if that is too quick, no later than the end of this year.
This resolution, which provides an exception for those troops needed to protect U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel, requires the House to take up this bill after 15 calendar days.
Congress has the constitutional responsibility to debate the merits of renewed American military involvement in Iraq before the first American casualties occur. While the key vote may be on tabling or killing the McGovern-Jones-Lee resolution, rather than an actual vote on the measure, it will at least put Members of Congress on the record.