A Summer Session for Congress?

Paul J. Shlichta
Much has been made of the fact that the lawmakers of the Iraq parliament are taking a one-month vacation in August. The US Congress and media have complained that, as one critic put it:
WHILE U.S. soldiers are risking their lives and dying each day in Iraq, and the country is embroiled in sectarian political divisions and bloodshed, Iraq's parliament decided it was a good time to take a break. That's not what we call trying to put a troubled nation back together.
But, as others have already noted, the US Congress is taking a vacation break at exactly the same time---July 26 to September  4---using the same excuse of unbearable heat (95º in DC vs. 130º in Baghdad).

I don't dare criticize either decision; I hate hot weather myself. But I do think our congressmen are missing a marvelous opportunity. With that lovely parliament house in Baghdad empty, why not convene a brief special session of the US Congress there sometime in August?

The logistics would be simple. Accommodating six hundred luxury guests would be a major undertaking. But treating them like military personnel---transporting them in military planes, housing them in barracks, and feeding them in mess halls---could be quickly and easily fitted into our troop rotation schedule.

Congressmen are notorious for taking "fact finding" jaunts to faraway places. This would be a great opportunity for them to find out what things are really like and what our troops are really enduring. It would also be a terrific gesture of solidarity. Many of our congressmen, in seeking to abort the war, have complained about the hardships our troops have suffered. The best way to prove that their compassion is real, and not just cynical manipulation, would be by sharing those hardships.

There would, of course, be some risks involved, over and above heat stroke. Therefore, we needn't strive for a quorum. We would only accept volunteers, just as our troops there are only voluntary enlistees.

When the volunteer fact-finders return, they might speak differently about the situation in Iraq. At least they would have some right to be listened to. As for the stay-at-homes who still continue to criticize our involvement in the war, I can only quote Sergeant Quirt in What Price Glory?: "Goddam anybody who wasn't there." 
Much has been made of the fact that the lawmakers of the Iraq parliament are taking a one-month vacation in August. The US Congress and media have complained that, as one critic put it:
WHILE U.S. soldiers are risking their lives and dying each day in Iraq, and the country is embroiled in sectarian political divisions and bloodshed, Iraq's parliament decided it was a good time to take a break. That's not what we call trying to put a troubled nation back together.
But, as others have already noted, the US Congress is taking a vacation break at exactly the same time---July 26 to September  4---using the same excuse of unbearable heat (95º in DC vs. 130º in Baghdad).

I don't dare criticize either decision; I hate hot weather myself. But I do think our congressmen are missing a marvelous opportunity. With that lovely parliament house in Baghdad empty, why not convene a brief special session of the US Congress there sometime in August?

The logistics would be simple. Accommodating six hundred luxury guests would be a major undertaking. But treating them like military personnel---transporting them in military planes, housing them in barracks, and feeding them in mess halls---could be quickly and easily fitted into our troop rotation schedule.

Congressmen are notorious for taking "fact finding" jaunts to faraway places. This would be a great opportunity for them to find out what things are really like and what our troops are really enduring. It would also be a terrific gesture of solidarity. Many of our congressmen, in seeking to abort the war, have complained about the hardships our troops have suffered. The best way to prove that their compassion is real, and not just cynical manipulation, would be by sharing those hardships.

There would, of course, be some risks involved, over and above heat stroke. Therefore, we needn't strive for a quorum. We would only accept volunteers, just as our troops there are only voluntary enlistees.

When the volunteer fact-finders return, they might speak differently about the situation in Iraq. At least they would have some right to be listened to. As for the stay-at-homes who still continue to criticize our involvement in the war, I can only quote Sergeant Quirt in What Price Glory?: "Goddam anybody who wasn't there."