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Julian E. Zelizer
Special to CNN
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University.
Despite all the questions surrounding the war in Afghanistan, congressional Democrats have not challenged the administration's policies since President Obama announced a surge of troops in 2009.
The release of classified documents about the war by the website WikiLeaks seemed to have no impact on Capitol Hill. The same week that the documents were released, the House approved legislation with almost no debate that will provide tens of billions of dollars for the war effort.
Even though the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee is chaired by John Kerry, who entered the national spotlight in the 1970s with his riveting testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the problems with the war in Vietnam, the panel has been relatively quiescent.
Democrats don't want Afghanistan to become a political problem for Obama. Their party is having enough trouble as a result of the recession and the deficit that they don't want to give their opponents one more issue to run on. Democrats, who have suffered for decades when being attacked as "weak on defense," also fear that any questions about the war will open them up to those attacks again.
But Democrats who have doubts about the war can't afford to be silent. When Congress doesn't publicly ask tough questions of the White House, poor decisions have often ensued.
The decision over funding Afghanistan came one week before the the 46th anniversary of the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7, 1964.
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