This op-ed appears on page 6A of today’s edition of USA Today:
Rep. Alan Grayson: American people say, 'No'
Alan Grayson, 8:03 p.m. EDT August 10, 2014
“Mr. President, when it's our money, and it's our blood, then it's our decision.”
Who is right on military intervention in Iraq: President Obama, or the American people? I say that it's the people.
A recent Pew Research Center poll asked Americans, "Do you think the U.S. has a responsibility to do something about the violence in Iraq?" "No!" said 55%. Fewer than 40% said yes. Most Democrats, Republicans and independents are opposed.
We all know the history: U.S. soldiers invaded and occupied Iraq, looking for "WMDs" that weren't there. That 10-year war cost us the lives of 4,425 American soldiers, left roughly 250,000 with permanent brain abnormalities from IEDs, etc., and cost us $2 trillion — approximately 2.5% of our national net worth, accumulated over 200 years.
Isn't that enough?
We left when the government of Iraq refused to extend the Status of Forces Agreement. Now Iraqi leaders want our help again. But the U.S. military is not a yo-yo.
The stated "mission" of the Iraq War was to build up a million-man armed force to defend Iraq. We did that. That force is fed by $100 billion in oil money each year. Yet it has been defeated, again and again, by what one Arab official called "a few hundred psychopaths." Iraqi soldiers outnumber the Islamic State by more than 100 to 1, but they won't fight.
In one town, a band of ISIS fighters announced their approach with a devastatingly effective weapon: a bullhorn. Iraqi soldiers fled.
If the Iraqis won't defend themselves, then why should we? And when will we start solving our own problems?
This effort makes a mockery of the Powell Doctrine. No national security interest is threatened, we don't have a clear strategy, we're not using overwhelming force, and we have no way out.
We have to get past this bizarre notion that every time there's something in the world we don't like, we bomb it.
Mr. President, when it's our money, and it's our blood, then it's our decision. And now, the American people are saying "No!"
"Ain't gonna study war no more.
Gonna lay down my sword and shield.
Down by the riverside."
— Down By the Riverside (1918).
Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Rep. Alan Grayson