When Congress voted to grant President Bush the power to launch a pre-emptive(sic) war, at a time of his own choosing, on a nation that has not attacked the United States, it reached its nadir. The abdication, the capitulation, the surrender was absolute.... We have crossed the line between republic and empire.
Later he writes:
Nothing has happened in a decade to lead us to conclude Iraq is about to attack the United States. All the evidence points the other way. Saddam sleeps in a different bed each night. Plastic surgery has created three or four "doubles," or Xerox copies, of Saddam, to take an assassin's bullet for him. His secretive regime is opening up its weapons sites to U.N. inspectors. His military is in defensive mode.
Long hated by the left, Buchanan became, in many conservative circles, persona non grata for daring to oppose George W. Bush's War on Iraq. Yet it is now all but certain that Buchanan was right. Attacking Saddam was idiotic and immoral. A question thus readily comes to mind: if a writer from Virginia, albeit a very insightful and knowledgeable one, can discover the fallacious nature of the evidence which led Congress to abdicate to Bush in favor of war with Iraq, why couldn't Congress have done the same? Granted that Buchanan is more intelligent, and certainly more honest than the average Congressperson, why couldn't some of them have come to the same conclusion that he did?
The question has two possible answers, both disconcerting. First possibility: the honorable members of Congress aren't fit for the task for which they have been chosen. Congress couldn't figure out that the evidence was shaky because, like Bush, they lack sufficient powers of reasoning necessary for so intricate a deduction. I do not think this true, though given the stupidity of the average American voter, it is not beyond the pale that they would elect as tremendous a buffoon as themselves. For Bush too was elected by the esteemed patrons of the democratic process.
Second possibility: Congress wishes to eat their cake and have it too. They are not, all of them, magnificent mooncalves. They know full well that the Americans who elected them can be duped with comparative ease; thus they can pin the war on Bush without drawing criticism for avoiding their Constitutional duty to declare war. They can pretend, and be believed, that they can and could do nothing to stop the war. But only for a time. The docility of the American people is not entirely boundless. In time, they may take the time to read the U.S. Constitution and realize that the legislative branch, like the President, has blood on its hands.
For Congress has, as yet, the “power of the purse”. In order to end the tragic, foolish war, Congress should simply stop funding it. Bush and his dwindling band of followers would complain, but he would ultimately be powerless to stop such a move. And since the Democrats now control the House as well as the Senate, it shouldn't be terribly difficult to shut down the war.
There is a problem, of course, for Congress is drastically short on courage. The same cowardice that caused the abdication of Congress will, in all probability, prevent that glorious assembly from correcting the mistakes of its predecessors. The republic may be only a memory.
But there may be hope. Chuck Hagel, a Republican Senator from Nebraska, seems to have stumbled upon something akin to bravery. In an address to his Senatorial compatriots for the purpose of, as Peggy Noonan writes, “essentially, an announcement of no confidence in the administration's leadership in Iraq”, Hagel noted:
[W]e have a constitutional responsibility as well as a moral responsibility to this country, to the young men and women we ask to go fight and die and their families... I will not sit here in this Congress of the United States at this important time for our country and in the world and not have something to say about this... I don't ever want to look back and have the regret that I didn't have the courage and I didn't do what I could. I want every one of you, every one of us, 100 senators, to look in that camera, and you tell your people back home what you think. Don't hide anymore; none of us... That is the essence of our responsibility. And if we're not willing to do it, we're not worthy to be seated right here. We fail our country. If we don't debate this... we are not worthy of our country.
This comes four years too late for the three thousand American troops who have already died in Iraq; four years too late for the untold thousands of Iraqi dead. And speeches, however profound and sincere, do not end wars—especially when they are made from the safety of another country. It remains to be seen whether Hagel will stand alone, if he will stand at all, or whether Congress will once again perform her sworn duty to defend the Constitution and what's left of the republic.
Meanwhile, back in Virginia, our lonely prophet has written column after column explaining why we need not go to war with Iran, despite not so subtle statements from the administration suggesting that we extend the War on Terror to include Iraq's larger and ostensibly belligerent neighbor. If Buchanan is right—again—Congress may just get another crack at avoiding war. Here's hoping they don't blow things this time around.