It's in the news that Obama's decided to send another 40,000 troops to Afghanistan, which is what his generals requested.
I think that was the wrong decision, but more importantly for this small-d democrat, exactly how come it's his decision? How about the rest of us - don't we get a say? This is a freakin' democracy. Or at least, that's what they say.
Sure, there's an AUMF left over from 2001 that gives Obama the legal authority to keep on doin' over there. But damn, that piece of paper is old now. Eight years, two long wars/occupations later, several thousand American lives and uncounted Iraqi and Afghani lives down the tubes, along with trillions of dollars of cash, maybe that piece of paper still has legal authority.
But it certainly lacks any moral authority anymore. We were in another time then - we'd just been on the receiving end of a catastrophic attack, and we needed to track down the people responsible for it. It's hard to say where the American people are on Afghanistan anymore, but we need to have a good, healthy debate about what we're trying to do over there - can it be done? Do we want to do it? Do we want to spend our money some other, better way? Do we want to give our overworked troops a chance to recover from the burden of fighting more, bigger wars at one time than we really had the troops for?
I don't want to listen to Obama tell us what he's decided. I want him to treat the previous AUMFs as if they're expiring next year, and he needs our backing as a country to continue our foreign wars.
I think we ought to tell him, 'No, it's time to bring the troops home,' but even if the American people debate this, and choose to come down on the side of more war, at least we'll have been in the loop. Right now, we aren't: this thing just keeps on going of its own momentum, without anyone asking us.
In a more perfect world, there'd be a Constitutional amendment saying that all declarations of war expire after five years, and ditto for all Congressional authorizations to use military force by whatever name, forcing the President to ask Congress for a new vote if s/he wants to continue the war. Five years seems more than reasonable - we defeated Hitler and Tojo in 3.7 years; any war where we can't achieve our aims in 5 years, we probably can't do so at all. And even if we can, it's time to pull the public back in to the discussion, so the politicians are forced to ask: do we want to?