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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Filed under: Obama • Voices • Your View
November 30th, 2009
10:01 AM ET

Obama faces risk of a wartime presidency

President Obama is taking a huge step in his presidency. After weeks of careful deliberation, the president has sided with military officials who have been pushing for an escalation of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Explaining his objectives and exit strategy, Obama is expected to announce that he will be sending 30,000 troops, and possibly more, into the region.

With this decision, Obama inches closer to becoming a wartime president. Even though the White House insists that they will continue to work hard on their domestic agenda, historically, presidents who become involved in protracted ground wars find that their presidencies are defined by their military conflicts. The politics that surround a military operation play an enormous role in the political success or failure of an administration.

Read more from contributor Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School.

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Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan • Obama