Sen. Russ Feingold introduced legislation today to cut off funds for the Iraq War.
While no one who has known me politically or personally can say that I support the war, I am opposed to this move. Sen. Feingold–and by extension, the anti-war movement–would be better served by introducing legislation which repealed the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).My opposition to this move is two-fold:
1. It gets supporters of escalation and the war off the hook, by allowing them to say “We would have won the war if Dems/liberals/DFHs hadn’t cut off money and abandoned our brave Iraqi allies!”
2. It gives off every impression that we’re abandoning the troops, and puts on us the burden of proving a negative.
Now, you can argue that we support the troops, not them, and I agree. However, cutting off funds provides a horrible visual. You can bet that if that ever comes to pass, there will be a virtual parade of military dependents shown on TV, each one claiming that we’ve abandoned their loved ones to die. You try explaining to a 19-year-old wife that cutting off funds to her husband doesn’t mean what it sounds and looks like it does.
Moreover, funding this war has been a masterpiece of budgeting. The Pentagon budget is an intricate latticework of smoke and mirrors, and I am not convinced that even if we were to cut off funds, you couldn’t earmark funds for Iraq off-the-books. The Pentagon is possessed of a black budget, and it is my understanding that funding for further operations in Iraq could come out of this earmarking.
What I would prefer is a revisitation of the 2002 AUMF. By repealing the AUMF, we would essentially be daring the President to continue the war. Moreover, it would make further continuation of the war illegal de jure. While many folks believe that the Iraq War is illegal (and it may well be de facto, owing to the many deceptions which engendered it), it is in fact legal, due to the AUMF.
Rescinding the AUMF would allow people to sign on to this without allowing critics to say that we’re abandoning the troops.
One final thing–if in fact, a financial cut-off becomes the final viable option available to end this war, we would be better served if such a bill was introduced by Sen. Webb (a combat veteran whose son is currently deployed in Iraq) than by Sen. Feingold. I believe Webb could do a far better job of explaining that cutting off funds does not imperil our troops than Feingold, and he would have the added credibility of having experienced military life first-hand.