Congress Accused of 'Moral Cowardice' for Enabling Endless War in Iraq and Syria

U.S. war planes pictured over northern Iraq as part of coalition bombings against Syria on Tuesday, September 23, 2014. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/public domain)

Congress Accused of 'Moral Cowardice' for Enabling Endless War in Iraq and Syria

The House of Representatives rejected a measure that would have forced them to debate and vote on military intervention

The U.S. House Representatives is being accused of cowardice after voting down a bill on Wednesday that would have forced them to take responsibility for the ten-month-old war in Syria and Iraq by mandating a vote for or against its authorization.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to shut down debate on the war against ISIS by rejecting a bipartisan resolution that would have forced Congress to make a decision about whether or not to authorize the ten-month-old military intervention.

"It's a sad statement that it took this type of effort to force Congress to debate a war that is nearly a year old." --Stephen Miles, Win Without War

Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) earlier this month invoked a procedure under the 1973 War Powers Resolution to introduce the legislation, which would have forced the U.S. to withdraw most troops from Iraq and Syria by the end of this year at the latest. If passed, the measure would have pushed Congress to make an explicit decision within the next six months about whether to wage the war.

Apparently, this is not a decision that Congress is interested in making.

The proposal was defeated 139-288, with almost all Republicans and 66 Democrats voting against the bill.

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In comments made before Wednesday's vote on the House floor, McGovern charged that Congress is "guilty of moral cowardice."

"For over 10 months, the United States has been engaged in hostilities in Iraq and Syria without debating an authorization for this war," he said. "This House appears to have no problem sending our uniformed men and women into harm's way; it appears to have no problem spending billions of dollars for the arms, equipment and airpower to carry out these wars; but it just can't bring itself to step up to the plate and take responsibility for these wars."

The U.S. coalition has dropped more than 15,000 bombs and missiles on Iraq and Syria since August 2014, according to the calculations of journalist Chris Woods. Numerous civilians have been directly killed by these bombardments and analysts warn that the intervention only worsens bloodshed and displacement throughout the region.

Wednesday's two-hour floor discussion is the closest that Congress has come to a real debate on the war since it began August 8, 2014.

"It's a sad statement that it took this type of effort to force Congress to debate a war that is nearly a year old," Stephen Miles of Win Without War told Common Dreams. "It is cowardly of Congress to not have a debate out of political concerns."

Now that the McGovern bill has been defeated, all of the proposals left on the table reinforce the status quo of endless war. Both the authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS proposals currently on the table--one from President Barack Obama, the other from bipartisan senators--greenlight open-ended and geographically limitless war.

Meanwhile, the war continues to expand, despite no congressional vote and the recent admission from the president that his administration has "no complete strategy" regarding Iraq.

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