Editorial roundup – May 23

Congress must take a stand on war

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (TNS)

A lowly Army captain is pressing an issue that members of Congress should have forced long ago. Without the specific authorization of Congress, President Barack Obama is committing battlefield troops and weaponry to fight wars on two fronts in Iraq and Syria.

Troops are dying, albeit in very small numbers compared with casualties of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars of the past decade. The difference now is that these wars are undeclared, the current enemy’s name — the Islamic State — appears in no previous war resolution, and there is no clear path to victory.

Capt. Nathan Michael Smith, an intelligence officer serving in Kuwait, demands clarity on behalf of those who might be called to fight. All Americans should demand nothing less. Smith says in his lawsuit that the War Powers Resolution, passed by Congress in 1973, requires the president to obtain the consent of Congress before committing U.S. armed forces in an armed conflict lasting more than 60 days.

Capt. Smith is absolutely correct to force this issue, and the White House should back him. Far too many members of Congress have used these wars as a platform to criticize the administration without ever having to take a stand on how they believe it should be fought. Congress needs to take a stand.

Bison the ideal national animal

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)

Animals can be great national symbols. You can tell a lot about a country by the animals selected to embody its ideals. Benjamin Franklin was arguably the cleverest of the Founding Fathers, but his scheme to adopt the turkey as the national bird at the expense of the majestic bald eagle would have made the young republic look ridiculous.

Recently, President Barack Obama and the fractious Congress were able to agree that the mighty bison, an animal that has become synonymous with the development of early America, is ready for its close-up. With Obama’s signature on the National Bison Legacy Act two weeks after Congress approved the bill by a unanimous voice vote, the mighty bison is officially America’s national mammal.

Given the bison’s importance to the Native Americans and to the settlers of the Old West, its selection as our national mammal seems inevitable.

The bison’s long overdue promotion doesn’t cost the U.S. taxpayers a cent. It is simply a confirmation of the animal’s iconic status.