Much of our nation’s recent interactions with Iran, both military and diplomatic, have been carried out by the executive with no congressional authorization. At a briefing last week, the administration — like other administrations of both parties before it — was infuriatingly dismissive of the role of Congress in decisions about war. Administration officials even suggested that congressional debate might hurt the morale of U.S. troops.
They have it backward. Congressional debate and deliberation are designed precisely to protect our troops and their families. After more than 18 years of continuous war in the Middle East, we know too well the sacrifices that are made by our best and brightest. They face injury and death and the shock of losing comrades in arms. And their friends and families face the anxiety of wondering what will happen and the heavy burden of providing care to those affected. If the United States is to order our troops into harm’s way again, we should at least have an open debate about whether a war with Iran, or indeed any war, is truly in our national interest.