There is only one
way in which the United States will withdraw from Iraq, prior to the end of President Bush's term: Congress must vote to cut
History and the
law give a clear guide on how to end the war in Iraq.
In Campbell v. Clinton, a case in US District Court in 1999, twenty six members of Congress, including myself,
sued President Clinton for continuing to prosecute the war against Serbia without a declaration of war. The Court ruled in
favor of the Administration because it could find no constitutional impasse existed between the Legislative and the Executive
branch requiring judicial intervention. Congress had appropriated funds for the war and therefore chose not to remove
US forces. The 'Implied Consent' Theory of Presidential War Power Is Again Validated. Military Law Review, Vol.
161, No. 202, September 1999 Geoffrey S. Corn. South Texas College.
Congress can debate
and pass legislation for redeployment, phased redeployment, or an over the horizon presence. Congress can vote for a resolution
to end the war and a resolution to bring the troops home. However, none of this will have any legal effect. Each appropriations
approval was a vote to continue the Iraq war.
The Administration does not have to pay any attention to Congress' attempt to guide the administrative conduct
of the war. Once Congress gave its consent for military action, it literally did not have the authority to guide the conduct
of the war. At this point, the only option Congress has to guide the conduct of the war is to withdraw approval for
the war through a cut off. Even a substantial reduction of funds could leave open the door for a legal claim that Congress
still intends to keep troops in Iraq. The Administration can rummage through the DOD budget and find money to keep its desired
troop levels. Unless the Congress totally cuts off funds, it leaves itself open to an imposition of Presidential will through
the Food and Forage Act of 1861 which gives the President the authority to directly spend money for troops in the field absent
a congressional appropriation.
The Campbell case
makes it clear that as long as Congress continues to fund the war, it cannot simultaneously argue that its will is being usurped
with respect to the war powers. Each appropriations vote gives the President "implied consent" to continue the war. So it
is clear that this war is not only the President's. This war belongs to Congress as well, to Democrats and Republicans alike,
in the House and in the Senate. And, unless and until Congress decides to force a new direction by cutting off funds, the
United States will continue to occupy Iraq and have a destabilizing presence in the Middle East region.
The first appropriation
bill regarding Iraq, is due early in 2007. While the legislation authorizing the War in Iraq passed on October 10, 2002, each
and every time Congress was faced with an appropriation for the war, it gave consent for the war all over again.
A quick review
of Congressional votes, under a Republican majority, shows Congress' willingness to continue the war in Iraq.
Indeed, a little
more than one month before the Great Realignment of November 2006, (the most recent vote taken on an Iraq funding bill) on
September 30, 2006, only twenty Democrats voted against the conference report which provided another $70 billion for the war.
The Senate passed the bill 100 - 0.
As we make plans to cut off funds for continuing to prosecute a war in Iraq, America must simultaneously
pursue a dramatically different approach to achieve peace. Here is a five point plan to accompany a cut off of funds:
1. Transfer to the United Nations the authority the United States
currently excerises in Iraq. This includes: The United States must ask the United Nations, in cooperation with the Iraqi government,
to manage the oil assets of Iraq until Iraq is stabilized. The United Nations, in cooperation with the Iraqi government, must
handle all the contracts: No more Halliburton sweetheart deals, No contracts to Bush Administration insiders, No contracts
to campaign contributors. All contracts must be awarded under transparent conditions. The United States must ask the United
Nations to work to sustain Iraqi self-governance, through assistance with development of the rule of law and constitutional
governance. The UN will assist in conducting free and fair elections.
2. The United States will finance a UN-sponsored peacekeeping mission in Iraq and enlist the help of
other members of the coalition of nations which participated in the Iraq action.
3. UN troops will rotate into Iraq, and all US troops will come home. The United Nations, through its
member nations, in cooperation with member nations from the region, will commit 130,000 peacekeepers to Iraq on a temporary
basis until the Iraqi people can maintain their own security.
4. The United States must agree to pay for what we destroyed. An Iraq reconstruction fund, monitored
by the UN in cooperation with the Iraqi government, must be annually replenished to replace destroyed infrastructure. The
United States must pay reparations to the families of innocent Iraqi civilian noncombatants killed and injured in the conflict.
The United States must renounce all privatization schemes in Iraq. It is illegal under both the Geneva and the Hague Conventions
for any nation to invade another nation, seize its assets, and sell those assets. The Iraqi people, and the Iraqi people alone
must have the right to determine the future of their country's resources. All privatization agreements must be subject to
review by a special Iraqi assets board set up by the UN with the cooperation of the government of Iraq.
5. The United States will abandon policies of "preemption" and unilateralism and commit to strengthening
We need a real change. My plan can the troops home in 90 days, transfer authority to the U.N as an
intermediate step, with provisions made toward a rapid transition to Iraqi security. Only if the United States takes a new
direction will we be able to persuade the world community, through the UN, to participate. --Rep. Dennis Kucinich