Some Senators appeared to be aware of the risk. Sen. Robert Menendez, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, insisted that his yes vote was not to endorse war: “We are not in the business of authorizing open-ended conflicts or keeping our troops on the battlefields forever.” True, Congress never votes for endless war—it simply refuses to vote and allows the president to war endlessly. What else explains the seventeen-plus years that U.S. troops have spent in Afghanistan?
If legislators want to carp because the president has sensibly decided to terminate foolish, unnecessary, and unproductive military interventions, then they should have voted on initially authorizing those deployments. McConnell’s measure was an ugly mix of ignorance, sanctimony, politics, and hypocrisy. American involvement in those wars has gone on long enough. It is time for U.S. forces to come home.
Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.