August 3rd, 2010
09:14 AM ET

Opinion: Don't give Obama blank check on war

Princeton, New Jersey — Despite all the questions surrounding the war in Afghanistan, congressional Democrats have not challenged the administration's policies since President Obama announced a surge of troops in 2009.

The release of classified documents about the war by the website WikiLeaks seemed to have no impact on Capitol Hill. The same week that the documents were released, the House approved legislation with almost no debate that will provide tens of billions of dollars for the war effort. ...

But Democrats who have doubts about the war can't afford to be silent. When Congress doesn't publicly ask tough questions of the White House, poor decisions have often ensued.

The decision over funding Afghanistan came one week before the the 46th anniversary of the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7, 1964.

Read more from Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, who says a look back at the Gulf of Tonkin incident provides a cautionary tale for today's Afghan war, and that Congress must closely scrutinize a president's decisions on war strategy.

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  1. ObsTa

    Well I have to say that sometimes I think what a waste of money and resources in Afghanistan because I am like what is an American soldier doing in Helmad (an afghan province) where he isn't exactly able to define his enemy. He probably thinks the one he is to fight has beard, is wearing a turban on his head and wants to hurt him, but guess what all those people have a beard, wear a turban and they want you out of there, because they believe you are invaders.

    But thank God there's another side to the presence of Americans in Afghanistan than just war. Not to forget that there has been a huge change in the Afghan Situation compared to the time of the Taliban Regime. Weather its an increase in the number of jobs for the locals, the increase in number of students who are motivated and are committed to learn and get education, or its just having people who believe in Democracy and Human Rights. I think this is what can be called achievement. Now its a country that has suffered three decades of extreme war and devastation which has ruined all its infrastructures, and has left a corrupted government, so the victory we are waiting for will take time, but will be achieved eventually.

    October 9, 2010 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jitendra

    To yearn for a firm hand at the wheel is natural reaction of a nation adrift in perilous waters. Americans can only hope and pray that by a quirk of fate Washington might display deeper resolve and greater imagination in prosecuting the war in Afghanistan.

    It is time to put aside partisanship and bring to bear the force of public opinion as a decisive factor.

    August 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Onesmallvoice

      Come out of your fairy tale about prosecuting the worthless war in Afghanistan.We need to get out of there as soon as possible as we're only making the lives of the Afghans more miserable by the day.I'm sick and tired of all this American self-rightiousness and arrogance.

      August 5, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. illona

    we should have been out of iraq yrs ago these wars need to stop are there kids being wounded or killed in war how come no top military leaders ever get killed or wonded bad in afghanistan we need to get all troops out of the wars now

    August 4, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew Lubin

      Well put,illona.

      August 4, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Smith in Oregon

    In regards to America pulling it's troops and equipment out of Iraq, effectively ending that Bush Family 'Oil War'.

    In Vietnam, Millions of US Military weapons, explosives, aircraft, helicopters, artillery pieces and vehicles were left behind, literally abandoned. They were happily accepted by the North Vietnam forces. The American taxpayers then were put on the hook to replace 150% of the abandoned and used equipment with newer, upgraded and hyper-expensive replacements.

    I don't see any difference with the unfolding foobar in Iraq. The Pentagon and vast US Military Complex are already writing up gigantic funding requests to replace and upgrade more US Military weapons and equipment than even entered Iraq in the first place. Making this yet another gigantic giveaway of US Military hardware in modern history and this occurring during one of the worse recessions in America's entire history. This marks just another crass and callous attempt to HOSE the American taxpayers for every dime possible by the US Military Complex.

    Of course I'm happy America is finally pulling out of Iraq and 'that' Bush Family 'Oil War'.

    China got what Saddam had repeatedly refused to give them, the Iraqi Oil field leases. Iran got the biggest prize America could give them, Saddams head and part of Iraq's government to greatly expand their influence into Iraq.

    Thousands of American's gave their lives, even more gave their blood, sweat, tears and nearly 1 Trillion taxpayer dollars to Iraq. In return the depraved and utterly corrupt Bush-Cheney administration gave CHINA the multi-Trillion dollar Iraqi Oil field leases for mere pennys. The American people and taxpayers got HOSED.

    August 3, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • BTDT

      How right you are,Smith.I totally agree.

      August 3, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. George Patton

    When is Congress going to do the right thing and cut off funding for this senseless war???

    August 3, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Right ! cut funding is the solution as the costs are unsostenaible. US military consumption of oil alone is 300k b/day for exercise only.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
      • Andrew Lubin

        How right you are,salerno!!!!!!!!

        August 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Andrew Lubin

    No one has given Obama a blank check on Afghanistan, and in fact many (mostly) GOP have condemned him for his measured and thoughtful reponse to McChrystal's plea for 80,000 troops.

    For Princeton Prof Julian Zelizer to compare Obama's strategy in Afghanistan to Johnson's rush to judgement re: Tonkin Gulf incident where he pushed a troop request thru Congress shows exactly how out-of-touch is this ivory tower academic with the facts – or he's just trying to get his name on CNN

    August 3, 2010 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  7. Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

    What Congress needs to do is bring back the War Powers Act of 1973 and get rid of the Patriotic Act as it only led to these senseless wars!

    August 3, 2010 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Grimlock

      That is the most sensible comment yet.Thank you,Larry.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
      • Grimlock

        Get off my ID, you damn troll.

        August 3, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Air Force Strong

      Now you're stealing Grimlock's ID,Phunnie boy?Cut it out! I suppose you'll be stealing mine next,won't you?

      August 3, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • illona

      we need to bring our troops out of afghanistan now the war there is a total loss we are loosing so many young men to horrible painful devastating war injuries what the hell are we doin the soldiers are not able to fight we have over 6oo wounded n 70 dead in july ALONE what are we doin the people need tosay this war needs to stop now bring home all troops from afghanistan. pres obama this war is taking to many of our kids limbs n lives bring them home now

      August 4, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |