President Obama wants the authority to take us to war against ISIS, and he’s asking Congress for it.
The proposed legislation Mr. Obama sent to Capitol Hill would impose a three-year limit on American action that has been conducted largely from the air and, while allowing Special Operations commandos and other limited missions, would rule out sustained, large-scale ground combat. It would also finally repeal the expansive 2002 congressional measure that authorized President George W. Bush’s war in Iraq.
But even as Mr. Obama proposed some handcuffs on his power, he left behind the key to those shackles should he or his successor decide they are too confining. While his draft resolution would rescind the 2002 authority, it would leave in place a separate measure passed by Congress in 2001 authorizing the president to conduct a global war against Al Qaeda and its affiliates. With that still the law of the land, Mr. Obama and the next president would retain wide latitude to order military operations in the name of fighting terrorism.
This is where we say “well, at least it’s not an all-out declaration with boots on the ground and ‘either you’re with us or against us’ painted on the sides of the tanks,” but still, no thanks for small favors.
This is the “lessons learned” AUMF to replace the one we shouldn’t have had in the first place because it led to this one. There’s no doubt that without the one in 2001 there wouldn’t be an ISIS today, or if there was, they would be as powerful as the Brownie troop down the block.
I appreciate Mr. Obama’s ambivalence about taking us to war; would that more presidents and yappers in Congress felt that way throughout history. I also appreciate that fact that he has put an expiration date on it, but we all know full well that those are often seen just as suggestions. The next president — whoever she is — will tell us they have plenty of reasons to ask for yet more war.