Iraq

Senate Democrats are going to wait until after the election to authorize military action against the Islamic State

Senate Democratic leaders

Senate Democrats have decided to punt on a resolution authorizing military force against the ISIS until after the mid-term election, handing a blank check to President Barack Obama to act unilaterally in the interim:

“We’re going to take up the construction of a new authorization for the use of military force. It’s long overdue,” said Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

The authorization would focus narrowly on ISIS, likely bar the deployment of ground troops and set a one-year time limit on military action.

The plan to vote on a resolution specifically authorizing strikes against the extremist Sunni group could help reassure liberal Democrats nervous about supporting a measure that authorizes President Obama to train and equip moderate rebels in Syria.

Durbin announced the roadmap at a Democratic leadership press conference shortly before the chamber was scheduled to vote on a government funding measure that included the so-called Title 10 authority to train the rebels.

Why are Senate Democrats waiting until after the election? Well, they don’t want to do anything to upset their base, some of whom could stay at home because of dissatisfaction with what they could see as the party getting the United States into another Middle Eastern quagmire. If some leftist Democrats stay home, it could further endanger the party’s already slim chances of holding onto the upper chamber.

Obama, once the anti-war candidate, now fully embraces the Bush doctrine of preemptive unilateral war

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Democrats swept into control of both houses of Congress in the 2006 elections on a wave of discontent with the Iraq war and then-President Bush’s foreign adventurism. President Obama campaigned over the next two years as the explicitly anti-war candidate. He was the only Democrat running who had opposed the war in Iraq, though he wasn’t in Congress to have to vote for it at the time. Now President Obama is explicitly embracing the Bush doctrine of preemptive war to pretend he has authority to unilaterally attack the ISIS forces in Iraq.

On Wednesday evening, Obama made a primetime address to the nation to explain the strategy against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which he said he didn’t have last week. In the address and an interview on Meet the Press the Sunday before, he said he already has the authority to pursue that strategy, which John Yoo, a former Bush administration official who literally wrote the memo on Bush’s war powers, says is exactly the same as Bush’s.

Here we go again: Barack Obama tells Congress he doesn’t need authorization to wage war

Well, it looks like President Barack Obama is going to bypass Congress to wage a military campaign once again avoiding the constitutional role Congress has in determining when the United States is at war.

President Obama told the four main congressional leaders — House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Minority Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — that he doesn’t need a vote in Congress authorizing military action against in Iraq against the Islamic State:

The president is expected to use [his Wednesday evening] speech to announce the expanded use of airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq, as well as his administration’s efforts to build an international coalition to confront the terror threat.

The president is also weighing the possibility of airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria, as well as asking the United Nations to pass a binding resolution requiring governments to prevent the flow of foreign fighters to the region.

While Obama told the House and Senate leaders he would welcome congressional action that demonstrates a unified front, the president told the bipartisan group “he has the authority he needs to take action against (ISIS) in accordance with the mission he will lay out in his address,” according to the White House.
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None of the four leaders present in the meeting mentioned the need for congressional action following the meeting, nor did they offer many clues as to what new strategy elements Obama might announce.

When America’s interests are threatened, it must act: Non-interventionism is not pacifism, and sometimes you have to hit back

The mainstream media is all atwitter this week about how the new breed of Republican doves is already turning back to their old hawkish ways in the face of new global threats. I’m not sure if this is a not-so-subtle attempt to paint non-interventionism as unsustainable, or if conventional wisdom is just that ignorant about what non-interventionism actually is.

So let’s set the record straight once and for all. Non-interventionism is not pacificism. When American interests are threatened or Americans are killed, non-interventionists are right to demand action, and that doesn’t make them no longer non-interventionists.

Robert Costa and Sebastian Payne at the Washington Post provide good reporting on a faulty premise in their “Rise of Islamic State tests GOP anti-interventionists.” Naturally, Hawk-in-Chief John McCain is using this piece to mock Rand Paul and others via subtweet.

Republicans who whine about unconstitutional power grabs are going to let Obama go to war without congressional authorization

Back in July, before members adjourned for its summer recess, the House of Representatives passed a Republican-backed resolution authorizing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to file a lawsuit against President Barack Obama over his abuses of executive power.

The lawsuit is largely viewed as an alternative to impeachment and could be used to inform Americans on what the administration is going to get around Congress as well as its failure to enforce laws as they’re written. In an op-ed at CNN, Boehner defended the coming lawsuit amid criticism from White House and Democrats and expressed disappointment at President Obama’s “flippant dismissal of the Constitution.”

Unfortunately, it looks like Republican leaders aren’t going to take a similar stand for the Constitution, which puts the question of war solely in the hands of Congress. The Daily Beast reports that the legislative branch may cede its power to the White House by allowing President Obama to use military force against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) without congressional authorization:

Only Congress can authorize military action: A stronger response against ISIS may be necessary, but Obama must seek approval

The United States’ airstrike campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is prompting some members of Congress from both parties to push for authorization for any further military action that President Barack Obama wants to take.

The situation is not unlike the push in the House of Representatives in August 2013 to put pressure on President Obama to seek congressional authorization against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-VA) penned separate letters to the White House, signed by more than 170 colleagues, in which they encouraged the administration to come to Congress, as the Constitution requires.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) recently told the Associated Press that, in light of the current situation in Iraq, he wants to “destroy ISIS militarily,” but said that such a campaign would need to be approved by Congress. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has also said that President Obama must ask Congress for further action against ISIS, something that has gotten under the skin of his Democratic colleagues.

A third way on foreign policy: U.S. needs to be cautious about the prospects of military intervention

Libertarians, generally by definition non-interventionists, have found themselves in a bit of a quandary of late as the debate about ISIS — and how much of a REAL threat it poses to the United States — ramps up and gets the national security wonk tongues wagging. For many libertarians, the debate hinges less on protecting U.S. interests abroad, but in protecting hearth and home. In other words, non-interventionism ends the minute the enemy is at the gate. And since no one seems to know exactly how powerful ISIS is in their ability to cross the ocean, it’s been a fascinating debate to watch.

It’s a mistake to assume libertarians are anti-interventionist because they are afraid of a fight. Many, in fact, are by nature brave enough to stand outside current accepted thoughts and practices — often alone and screaming into the wind. Their preference for staying out of world conflict is born of economic pragmatism and a belief in individual and national self-determinism more than anything else.

So what do they do with an increasingly belligerent world and an enemy that threatened (even though that threat turned out to be hollow. This time.) to raise a flag over the seat of governing power in this country?

In other words, is there, as T. Becket Adams proposes in a recent piece for the Washington Examiner, a “third way”?:

Amateur hour at the White House continues: Obama says he has no strategy to deal with ISIS

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, commonly known as ISIL or ISIS, has been a threat in the Middle East for some time, but you wouldn’t know that from the reaction of President Barack Obama and administration officials.

The Islamic militant group’s bloody and violent rise in Iraq, which came into focus for the United States in June, appeared to catch the White House by complete surprise. Nearly three months later, President Obama has yet to form a coherent strategy to deal with ISIL, something to which he owned up on Thursday afternoon:

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse, we don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama said in a press conference Thursday of seeking congressional approval for additional airstrikes in the Middle East.

Obama has been under pressure to expand U.S. bombings from Iraq to Syria, but his advisers remain divided about the prospect of military intervention there.

For his part, the president seemed to suggest Thursday that he was less interested in using military action in Syria than Iraq.

“My priority at this point,” Obama said, “is to make sure the gains that [ISIS] made in Iraq are rolled back.”

Watch MSNBC’s Chris Matthews blast Barack Obama over his response to ISIS

Chris Matthews, the MSNBC talk show host who once said that Barack Obama gave him a “thrill up [his] leg,” isn’t happy with the President’s response to the brutal execution of James Foley in Iraq at the hands of Islamic militants.

In a segment on Wednesday evening, Matthews blasted President Obama’s statement on Foley’s death and his promise to see his killers are brought to “justice.”

“I don’t know why he used the word ‘justice.’ It’s not appropriate here. This is an attack on our country, we have to react to it,” said Matthews, according Newsbusters. “This is our country versus this group that’s declared war on us. What’s justice mean in this con— I don’t know why the word’s used, like we’re going to go to the World Court with this?”

Just after he gave the statement on Foley’s death, The Hill reported that President Obama, who returned to Martha’s Vineyard to finish his vacation on Tuesday after a two-day visit to Washington, “hit the golf course” with former NBA star Alonzo Mourning, among others.

ISIS must be destroyed: The murder of James Foley should spur the golfer-in-chief into action

JF

Most Americans, libertarians especially, and the writers on this site in particular, were skeptical about going back into Iraq with military force to defend the Iraqis and Kurds from the Islamic State (ISIS) extremist group’s conquest.

It’s really not our fight anymore. We were there for eight years fighting the Hussein regime, then insurgent forces, and training the Iraqi military to defend itself and maintain the peage. Still, polls showed support for limited airstrikes against ISIS targets to protect especially vulnerable civilian populations

That all changed on Tuesday when a video surfaced (but will not be linked here) of an American, AP photographer James Foley, being horrifically decapitated by an ISIS representative (and apparently British citizen) as a warning over our limited involvement in the situation. This was exactly the wrong tactic if ISIS wanted to keep us away.

However deep your pacifism, isolationism, or non-interventionism runs, the brutal public execution of an American citizen is a red line that must not be crossed without consequence. We can debate Congressional authorization, tactical targets, strategic objectives, operational scopes, or international assistance, but we must respond swiftly and unflinchingly.


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