With possible military action against Iraq looming, members of Congress are discussing the need for President George W. Bush's administration to submit its aims and strategy to a war resolution vote. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's chairman, Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), announced that the Senate wants to know the scenarios that are being considered and if our allies are being factored into the nation's war plans.
Although you can argue over the course the President has to take under the War Powers Act, Mr. Biden is correct in his premise that it is time for the United States to declare its objectives. Announcing the intent to take military action is probably correct as far as it goes, but that cannot be the desired outcome of U.S. strategy. As Carl von Clausewitz noted in his military classic, On War, when preparing for war, political leaders should never take the first step until they know their last. The time to declare a desired end state for Iraq is now—before we consider how best to use military tools to fashion and consolidate what essentially must be a political result.