War, peace, Congress, people

Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2003

I'm with Barbara Kelly (Empire, March 12). I choose peace. Most of my friends choose peace. Everyone I know chooses peace. Even Gen. Franks chooses peace. We may endorse different means to that end, of course, but we're all for peace. Peace is the goal, but President Bush and many Americans favor use of high explosives while Ms. Kelly and many other Americans favor public gatherings, banners and colorful kites.

Ms. Kelly is mistaken, though, in describing the potential violence in Iraq as war. Constitutionally, only Congress can declare war and it hasn't done so. Have you noticed that since we've had the U.N. we've stopped having wars? Cool, huh? Now we have "police actions." We may have millions of people dead and suffer hundreds of thousands of military casualties, but we haven't had a genuine war in more than half a century. Is that progress or what? Sending 300,000 of our fellow Americans, our relatives and friends, not to mention billions of our dollars' worth of equipment and supplies, to turn Iraqi citizens into briquettes or die trying may seem a lot like war, but it's not. It's another police action.

In truth, Congress no longer decides if we go to war; it doesn't want that power anyway. The administration decides, based upon its interpretations of resolutions of bodies we do not elect, upon official yet fuzzy domestic pronouncements and upon references to vague threats to national security, whether or not we send folks overseas to scatter high explosives over the heads of foreign nationals. Congress, with the next election ever before it, is in the enviable position of having it both ways: Authorize funding for exercise of force that morphs into a "police action" but not declare war. If the "police action" turns out well, then "By golly, we made that happen!" If it doesn't, "By golly, the administration was way out of line!" Re-election is assured in either case. Words can describe my feelings for this routine, but the newspaper wouldn't print them.

Attend Ms. Kelly's rally if you want, but also write your Congress-people. Tell them to live up to their oaths of office or step aside for people who will.

Paul Wescott


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