Meet Representative Elaine Luria, Chowderhead

Representative Elaine Luria, a Democrat representing Virginia’s Second Congressional District, is in a hawkish mood. The former career naval officer wants the United States to gird itself for a showdown with China over Taiwan. Writing in The Washington Postshe proposes to “untie the hands of our president.” In the event of a prospective crisis involving Taiwan, Luria wants President Joe Biden to have “the necessary authorities” to use force without the hassle of seeking further congressional approval. In a nutshell, she proposes to confer on the present commander in chief—and presumably any successor—full authority to go to war with China, taking her congressional colleagues and all the rest of us along for the ride.

Allow me to nominate Luria for honorary membership in the Tonkin Gulf Chowder and Marching Society.

The original TGC&MS dates from August 1964, when Congress handed President Lyndon Baines Johnson a blank check to wage war in Vietnam. The House of Representatives approved the Tonkin Gulf Resolution unanimously. In the Senate, the tally was 88-2. Duly empowered, LBJ embarked upon a needless war, which doomed his ambitious domestic reform agenda, cost him his presidency, and inflicted incalculable damage on the nation as a whole.

In September 2001, the TGC&MS added a second cohort, as Congress authorized President George W. Bush to use force against just about anyone or anything that Bush labeled a “terrorist.” In the House, just a single member voted no, while the Senate gave its unanimous assent. Bush thereby embarked upon an ill-defined and open-ended Global War on Terrorism, which his several successors have continued.

Read the full article in The Nation.