The point of his op-ed? Congress does indeed have the authority to stop, restrict, limit and control America's military legislatively, and recites more than a few instances in the past as proof. Among them?
FDR was limited to sending arms to nations under assault by Hitler until shortly before Pearl Harbor. Took 'em awhile to take that threat seriously, eh? Congress, in their micro vision, also had a law prohibiting sending draftees out of the Western Hemisphere. So after Peal Harbor, that little diddy had to be altered - redefining the "Western Hemisphere" - after war was declared. Imagine... having to change a law so that troops could be deployed in self-defense.
Congress limited troops distribution in Vietnam in the late 60's/early 70s. Again, binding our military's hands for a slow bleed loss before finally abandoning the S. Vietnamese completely to mass murders.
Troops sent to Lebanon by Reagan had their own Congressionally mandated "rules of engagement", and were only allowed to engage in self defense... sounds like NATO in Afghanistan. But perhaps they were at least allowed to fight at night, unlike the current NATO troops. Who knew there were business hours for warfare?? Only a bunch of legislative suits (UN or US) could come up with such nonsense.
Congress banned Clinton from military operations in Somalia and Rwanda... and I think we remember what happened there. Nice going, elected elite. Oddly enough... most of those who aided, by their mandated taboos and inaction, in the Rwandan genocide have their derrieres' still firmly planted in their cushy Congressional seats.
Mr. Stevenson's tone suggests he wrote this article with the intention of enlightening the nation to precedents, proving Congress possesses power to manage, prevent or end war. Apparently he fears if they do nothing, it "would undercut congressional claims to broad authority in wartime".
Is this a "use it, or lose it" mentality? I hardly think Congressional elitists forget they possess such power as they've tried desperately since assuming the majority status to do just what Mr. Stevenson wishes them to do. The fact is, a majority of the two bodies are not in lock step with the more drastic cut and run leadership. They cannot micromanage because they do not have the majority support to do so.
What is quite clear is Mr. Stevenson's personal opinion - from paragraph 7:
If lawmakers care about their institution -- and about the course of the war in Iraq and the US soldiers fighting there -- they should take whatever action majorities can support, even if those are only advisory measures rather than binding law. They can even impose conditions in one paragraph and allow the president to suspend the restriction by another. Even that is better than giving the president free rein.
Would Mr. Stevenson have pushed for the WWII Congress to do the same "reining in" of FDR during the heat of conflict? Would he have desired a "kinder, gentler" Congress making nice to Hitler at the same time an assertive Commander in Chief was waging war? Somehow I doubt it.
However for a guy with an agenda, he did more harm than help to his cause with the historical facts. Obviously Congress has a history proving
a: little foresight for threats to our national security,
b: their penchant to micromanage a war into defeat, and
c: general all-purpose meddling to not only our nation's detriment, but causing immense loss of life in other nations.