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.
If Congress had participated to a greater extent in managing the pre-war planning, the war might have been avoided altogether. Congress should have started managing the war four years ago.
Here's a novel idea: How about letting Iraqis micromanage Iraq? No one seems to know why we invaded or why we're still there, but if our mission was destroying a sovereign country that had done nothing to us, it's been accomplished. Time to come home and do something useful, like building a dignified memorial to the fallen heroes who accomplished the task. Does anyone really believe that after thousands of years of civilization the Iraqis aren't capable of rebuilding their own country without our interference? It's time to shake off the white man's burden before we do any more harm.