Time for Congress to reassert its constitutional power to declare war

How about this for a poll question: Would Donald Trump, as president, have been more effective than President Biden in overseeing the evacuation from Afghanistan? Yes or no?

Does anyone doubt that more than half of respondents would mark yes?

Next, in his August 20 presser, Biden asserted: "The evacuation mission is dangerous."  This statement, arguably, deserved a one-word question from reporters: "Why?"

Simple common sense would have it that Biden's recognition that the situation in Afghanistan is "dangerous" now implies that he miscalculated, terribly, on the goodwill of the Taliban in setting August 31 as the inflexible deadline for removal of all U.S. troops from a country that is about to relapse into 7th-century Islamic rule — which brings the country back to where it was when the mission in Afghanistan began under the Bush-Cheney administration.  The Bush-Cheney mission, in retrospect, was initiated without a congressional declaration of war, and, certainly, without reference to Gen. MacArthur's sage advice in his April 19, 1951 Farewell to Congress, noting, in part, "War's very object is victory, not prolonged indecision."  This great American then asserted: "In war, there is no substitute for victory."

As we experience from afar the immediacy of TV reports of our catastrophe in Afghanistan, what else are we to conclude but that the past two decades amounted to "prolonged indecision" leading to anything but "victory"?  Isn't it time to return to the explicit provision in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution — to the clause asserting that the decision to make war is for Congress?  Isn't it time to turn away from the unconstitutional advice secretary of state Dean Acheson gave President Truman to send our troops to Korea without action first from Congress?  (See McCullough's biography, Truman, p. 789, Touchstone paperback).  Shouldn't we have learned that it is the determination of Congress to make war that reflects a national consensus to send troops into battle for victory, not for a result leading to national humiliation?

Another poll question comes to mind to underscore the political aspect of the current chaotic situation in Afghanistan:

Would Speaker Pelosi, if Donald Trump had been re-elected president, now be calling for his third impeachment over the evacuation situation in Afghanistan?  Yes or no?

Does anyone seriously doubt that well over half the respondents would agree that Pelosi would have drafted an article of impeachment decrying the "invitation to humiliation" if Donald Trump were still president?

Perhaps the media shrink from raising questions that would put Biden at a disadvantage vis-à-vis Trump, fearing that people might start clamoring for another Trump presidential term.

But what about a statement from the House Republican caucus?  A statement by all House Republican members should accept the responsibility the Constitution gives them: the decision to make war is for Congress to determine, not the White House acting in concert with a select few.  And a House Republican statement should also reaffirm the sage advice Gen. MacArthur gave Congress, seventy years ago, which might be rephrased this way: do not declare war if you will not see it through to victory.

Image via Max Pixel.

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