President Barack Obama is seeking authority from Congress for new powers to wage military operations against the Islamic State. Obama claims that this is important for the United States’ strategy against the group and for the cohesion of an international coalition, which includes Arab countries.
His proposal would “authorize a use of military force” or AUMF for three years. If authorized, it would bind the next president to the proposal, as well.
Obama is also seeking to have repealed, the 2002 AUMF that allowed former President George W. Bush to invade Iraq.
The draft proposal doesn’t, however, repeal a separate 2001 AUMF, which Obama is currently using as legal justification for fighting the Islamic State group.
The 2001 AUMF was adopted after the Sept. 11 and was utilized by Bush in taking action against Al Qaeda. However, Obama has indicated that he would like to replace it eventually.
The Obama administration argues that a new and updated AUMF is needed for the current U.S.-led operations in Iraq and Syria.
Even though the White House worked with both Republicans and Democrats on the draft in hopes of finding bipartisan support, this hasn’t been the case.
The Republicans want to provide Obama with more flexibility in fighting Islamic State while his own party does not.
The Republicans are calling for more presidential authority to fight the Islamic State militants while Obama himself is seeking to use the power cautiously.
Republican members of Congress are also wanting to gain more expansive authority for future presidents to wage war.
However, Democratic lawmakers are worried that the powers that Obama is seeking should be more limited in scope as to the U.S. military involvement in fighting the Islamic State forces.
“A new authorization should place more specific limits on the use of ground troops to ensure we do not authorize another major ground war without the president coming to Congress to make the case for one,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) and the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
There are several concerns that Americans should have regarding Obama’s proposal.
First, we have a president who refuses to recognize the Islamic State terrorists as having any connection with the religion of Islam. Obama has never been able to say “radical Islam” when speaking about the terrorists.
He recently referred to an attack on a Jewish kosher deli in Paris as being a “random act” rather than an attack by the terrorists due to their religious beliefs.
How can Obama fight an enemy with military force and without Congress when he is unwilling to recognize their true identity?
Also, Obama does not acknowledge the severity of the threat to the U.S.
Earlier this month Obama said, “What I do insist on is that we maintain a proper perspective and that we do not provide a victory to these terrorist networks by over-inflating their importance and suggesting in some fashion that they are an existential threat to the United States or the world order.”
Clearly, at least in this statement, Obama does not consider the terrorists to be an existing threat to the U.S.
If Obama does not think the Islamic State fighters are an existing threat to the U.S. then why at this particular time is he seeking authority from Congress for a specified length of time to fight the Islamic State group?
Additionally, Obama continues to change his strategy on how the terrorists should be fought.
When referring to the Islamic State terrorists and how we should fight them, Obama said in part, “It means that we don’t approach this with a strategy of sending out occupying armies and playing whack-a-mole wherever a terrorist group appears, because that drains our economic strength and it puts enormous burdens on our military. What’s required is a surgical, precise response to a very specific problem.”
Just days ago, Obama proposed another strategy to fight the Islamic State when he revealed his national security strategy. His new plan was for “strategic patience” and he opposed American “overreach.”
Why would Congress grant a definite timeline to Obama for military action when there doesn’t appear to be a viable plan of action to follow? Obama’s ever-changing plan doesn’t come close to sounding like a feasible military operation to defeat terrorism.
Additionally, Obama does not need to seek a specific length of time from Congress because he already has authority under the existing 2001 AUMF to fight the Islamic State group. This latest proposal seems to only serve a purpose in bogging down Congress in an unnecessary debate.
Furthermore, Congress should find it objectionable to grant Obama additional powers since he has continually used executive orders to bypass Congress. It would not be prudent to help Obama or future presidents to undermine congressional authority.
I believe that Obama’s new proposal is merely a veiled attempt to grab more control.
If the proposal is granted, Obama would be able to control the authority of the next president and bind him or her to the terms of the new three year proposal.
Essentially, it would act to extend Obama’s presidential powers beyond his term in office. It would also act to prevent the next president from being able to use the presidential powers granted under the 2002 AUMF.
Additionally, if agreement is reached on the proposal, Obama would retain almost carte blanche authority to conduct military actions the way he sees fit during his remaining months in office without having to seek additional approval from Congress. Surely the Congressional GOPs can agree with the Democratic Congress that this is not in the best interests of America.
Congress needs to take a step back and assess the impact of the proposal on the American public before jumping in to work on the latest Obama proposition.
It should be obvious to them that since Obama has not typically sought their permission in the past before taking action, that doing so now is highly suspect.