Article II; Section 2. The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States.
On or about November 1, 2003 the bus on which I was riding pulled into the parking lot outside the Palace in the Green Zone in Baghdad. I was beginning what was to be an eight-week assignment. I wondered how long it would be until I was sitting on a boulevard in downtown Baghdad drinking afternoon tea. I was certain it would happen before I left.
I was in Iraq for six months and I never drank tea on a boulevard in downtown Baghdad. If I had stayed for an additional three years I would still never have had that cup of tea.
I don't know what the President is going to say tonight, but I do know this: Iraq is a major battleground in the worldwide war on terror. So is Iran and North Korea and Somalia.
I also know that Article II, Section 2 says the President is the commander-in-chief. Article II, Section 2 is also that part of the Constitution which contains the "advise and consent" language: He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States
Note, however, the language clearly stipulates which Presidential powers require the advice and consent of the US Senate. Sending more troops to Iraq is not among them.
Neither Nancy Pelosi, nor Harry Reid, nor Joe Biden nor any other member of the House or Senate nor anyone running for US President from either party has the right to deny the President the power granted to him as commander-in-chief.
The Congress can, of course, withhold funding for military adventures. In the 1960s, when the country was opposed to the Vietnam war and was also opposed to the soldiers who fought there, that might have worked.
In 2007, in spite of the country being opposed to the war in Iraq, it is most assuredly not opposed to the men and women who have volunteered to serve in uniform and, by extension, fight for our safety in Iraq and Afghanistan and anywhere else they are ordered to go.
Denying services members the funds necessary for them to do their jobs will not be a path to re-election in most Congressional Districts in America in 2008. House Members - especially freshmen Members - understand this.
In my brief and tangential experience, Iraqis have done pretty well when they have had a deadline - a benchmark to use the current idiom - against which they were pressed: The adopted the Transitional Administrative Law; conducted the elections; and adopted a constitution pretty much on the timeline which we had helped them construct.
A new timeline with new deadl... benchmarks will help the Iraqis get focused on the things which need to be done - both strategically and tactically - and the order in which they need to do them to get their country back under control.
The Battle for Iraq must be won or the United States (and every other nation on the planet) will be open to exactly the kind of violence we see in Baghdad every day.
As Flight Director Gene Kranz said to his troops in Houston during the Apollo 13 mission: "Failure is not an option."
Remember the mention of Capt. Travis Patriquin by Newt Gingrich on Meet the Press a few weeks ago? He was the officer who constructed the stick-figure presentation regarding how win in Anbar province and then was killed by a roadside bomb outside Ramadi in early December.
His dad wrote to me yesterday that there had been established a memorial fund to help care for his children aged 7, 5 and 1.
If there is a service member in your area who has given his or her life on our behalf, please give to whatever fund has been established in their memory. If you are looking for someplace to make a donation, please consider Travis Patriquin.