Public Comment

Commentary: A Solution to the Federal Budget Impass

By Young Chau
Tuesday May 29, 2007

After four successful years of turning a quick, solid victory in the Iraq war from “Mission Accomplished” to “We’re winning” to “We’re not winning” to “Give it a chance to succeed,” President Bush vetoed the war funding bill because it comes with a withdrawal timeline. He continues to insist on his right as the Commander in Chief to direct duty-bound American soldiers into the Middle East’s Killing Fields without a troop withdrawal deadline, benchmark, or any type of Congressional oversight that would restrain his executive power.  

Given that he and the Republican members of Congress confidently think this is the way forward for the good of the nation and American troops on the ground in Iraq, the Democratic members of Congress should oblige by repassing the war spending bill without a provision for troop withdrawal deadline or benchmark. In place of a restraint condition, the Democratic lawmakers should pass the war-funding bill with the following law or constitutional amendment: 

Elected officials who support sending soldiers to war or be stationed in battlefront must each send one of their family members between the age of 18 and 49 to the battlefront as well until the war ends. 

Time has come for the President and his supporters to encourage their children to join the 140,000 plus Americans to fight the war they persist on worth sustaining. If the war is worth fighting, then it must be worth fighting with the children of those with the power to take the nation to war as well.  

American voters want a change of direction on Iraq, and they made this clear in last November’s election when they gave the Democrats both houses of Congress. They want the U.S. to start disengaging from Iraq and bring our troops home. It is not that the anti-war activists want President Bush or Iraq to fail. The reality is sectarian violence in that country, driven by century-old tribal feuds and religious hatred, is beyond U.S. control. It is not worth sacrificing any more American lives than the 3,300 we have already loss.  

The question of whether it is worth it is not referring to the cause, but to “who is willing to die for that cause,” as Dr. Charles Moskos, world’s renowned military sociologist and professor emeritus at Northwestern University, wrote in an article on “what ails the all-volunteer force” in the summer 2001 edition of Parameters, the U.S. Army’s Senior Professional Journal: 

“Only when the privileged classes perform military service does the country define the cause as worth young people’s blood. Only when such youth are on the firing line do war losses become more acceptable…Citizens accept hardships only when their leadership is viewed as self-sacrificing.” 

The proposed constitutional amendment will put to rest the question: is it worth it? If the war is worth continue fighting for, as President Bush and his Republican guards insist it is, then surely they would agree that it is worth fighting with their children. What better way to back their conviction then for the Republican political leaders to encourage their patriotic children to serve the nation for the cause that they profoundly believe in?  

It is important to note that the amendment proposed above is not a draft, but an alignment of the interests of those with the power to take the nation to war, with the interests of those who have to sacrifice for the war. By passing the amendment, President Bush and Congress confirm to the one million Americans who bore all the brunt of the war in the last 4 years, that their sacrifice is genuinely worth it. And America’s true brave hearts and their love ones will no longer be alone in feeling the pain, the loss, the nightmare, the destruction of war—even as we march down the road to perdition.  

With ten of thousands of American soldiers heading to Iraq for the third and fourth times—with a deployment now being 15 months instead of 12—it is clear that America does not have enough troops. The country needs additional heroes and brave hearts, and can use a few privileged, well-educated, and politically connected men and women to protect American interest in Iraq. This proud Union cannot have more fitting soldiers protect its freedom and nurture the young democracy in Iraq than the children of its dedicated political leaders.  

Undoubtedly the children of our political leaders do not necessary have all the skills and experience the Iraq War required, but as the former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once said, “we go to war with what we have, not what we need.”