Re "Someone has to manage Iraq," Opinion, April 6
It is doubtful that Congress has the power to manage war to the extent described by Rosa Brooks. Under the Constitution, Congress does not have the authority to tell the president how war is actually prosecuted. Congress has the power to declare war and can use its power of the purse to end a war. If Congress tries to manage the deployment and withdrawal of troops without cutting funds, it will encroach on the president's powers. Congress could end the war tomorrow by cutting off funds for the troops. The path Brooks urges for Congress is to leave the troops in the field without support. Indeed, there are other consequences to a troop withdrawal, such as the future roles of Al Qaeda and Iran. If Brooks wants Congress (which would be, in effect, more than 500 generals) to be responsible for the management of the war, we will trade one disaster for another, including a constitutional confrontation.
ROBERT C. GUSMAN
Brooks is correct in pointing out the constitutional responsibilities of Congress in any war. Any responsible president should welcome advice and planning for the most important decision a leader can make. Decisions about war are life-and-death decisions for tens of thousands of citizens of all countries involved. No single individual should even want such a personal burden.