I'm not actually crazy enough to jump into the Iraq war debate on this
blog, both because I need to maintain some political neutrality to do my
job and also because some of the people in the TR community are a
little scary when it comes to the subject, and I want no part of that.
So, let's just agree that I have opinions about the hows and whys of
the Iraq War, you're just not going to get me to express them.
What I will do is point you to a quote from sci-fi author John Scalzi, who posits this question:
"If there had been a Constitutional amendment that said that any war
undertaken by the United States, in which the US was the aggressor, had
to be financed with current federal revenues (i.e., by taxes levied today, not
by borrowing), would the War in Iraq have been approved — or even
considered? Does your answer suggest to you that a Constitutional
amendment like this might be useful in the future?"
The basis of the question is the current Presidential administration's
predisposition to borrow from foreign investors (via treasury issues)
to pay for its various and sundry initiatives. That's how you cut taxes
without cutting spending, banking that the economic boost will generate
sufficient revenues to offset the interest incurred from the borrowing.
The gist of teh question being thatyou can't start a war unless you can pay for it in
cash (requiring immediate tradeoffs in the current, not future
budgets), not on credit (which basically hogties future spending due to
interminable debt service). Wars of defense reacting to direct attack—a a Pearl
Harbor—would not be subject to the restriction, but the doctrine of
preemption would face a much tougher acid test, as you have be willing
to give up certain short-term luxuries in spending to pay for the wars
Interesting premise, and one which I'm fairly certain would have
allowed for the Afghanistan invasion after Sept. 11, but not the
invasion of Iraq. Of course, this all comes down to who would get to
decide what constitutes a war of agression versus reaction, as it could
very easily become a mere political exercise to manufacture a case for
the oppositional aggression, especially if the proposed Amendment
doesn't lay out a very clear standard. I'd be curious as to what
other people think.