The president is requesting Congress to pass an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) resolution against ISIS. Congress has not issued a similar resolution since 2002, when President Bush was given the authority to wage war against Iraq. The purpose of this resolution is to give official authority to the president to do the things that he has already been doing for the past six years. Seems strange but this is typical for Washington. President Obama’s claim is that he does not need this authority. He claims, as have all other recent presidents, that the authority to wage war in the Middle East has been granted by the resolutions passed in 2001, 2002, and by article II of the Constitution. To ask for this authority at this time is a response to public and political pressure.
It has been reported that the president is going to request that the authority limit the use of ground troops. However it would not affect the troops already engaged in Syria and Iraq to the tune of many thousands. This new authority will acknowledge that more advisors will be sent. Most importantly it will appear to have given moral sanction to the wars that have already been going for years.
Interestingly it actually expands the ability of the president to wage war although the president publicly indicates he would like to restrain it. The new authorization explicitly does not impose geographic limits on the use of troops anywhere in the world and expands the definition of ISIS to that of all “associated forces.” A grant of this authority will do nothing to limit our dangerous involvement in these constant Middle East wars.
The war propagandists are very active and are winning over the support of many unsuspecting American citizens. It is not difficult to motivate resistance against an organization like ISIS that engages in such evil displays of horrific violence.
We have been fighting in the Middle East for 25 years. There have been no victories and no “mission accomplished.” Many needless deaths and dollars have been spent and yet we never reassess our policies of foreign interventionism. One would think after the humiliating defeat of the Republicans in 2008, as a reaction to the disastrous foreign policy of George W. Bush, that the American people would be more cautious in granting support to expanding our military presence in that region.
Even if our policies led to no boots on the ground, the unintended consequences of blowback and the enemy obtaining more American weapons will continue. The CIA has said that 20,000 foreigners are on their way to Iraq and Syria to join the ISIS. Our government has no more credibility in telling us the truth about the facts that require us to expand our military presence in this region than Brian Williams. Constant war propaganda has proven too often to be our nemesis in supporting constant war promoted by the neoconservatives and the military industrial complex.
It’s my opinion that giving additional authority to wage war in the Middle East is a serious mistake. Instead, the authority granted in 2001 and 2002 should be repealed. A simple and correct solution would be for our elected officials to follow the rules regarding war laid out in the Constitution.
Ironically there may well be some Republicans in the Congress who will oppose this resolution because of their desire to have an all-out war and not be limited in any way by the number of troops that we should be sending to this region. The only way that Congress can be persuaded to back off with our dangerous interventionism, whether it’s in the Middle East or Ukraine, is for the American people to speak out clearly in opposition.
There is no doubt that ISIS represents a monstrous problem – a problem that should be dealt with by the many millions of Arabs and Muslims in the region. ISIS cannot exist without the support of the people in the region. Currently it is estimated that their numbers are in a range of 30,000. This is not the responsibility of American soldiers or the American taxpayer.
Declaring war against ISIS is like declaring war against communism or fascism. The enemy cannot be identified or limited. Both are ideological and armies are incapable of stopping an idea, good or bad, that the people do not resist or that they support. Besides, the strength of ISIS has been enhanced by our efforts. Our involvement in the Middle East is being used as a very successful recruitment tool to expand the number of radical jihadists willing to fight and die for what they believe in. And sadly our efforts have further backfired with the weapons that we send ending up in the hands of our enemies and used against our allies and Americans caught in the crossfire. Good intentions are not enough. Wise policies and common sense would go a long way toward working for peace and prosperity instead of escalating violence and motivating the enemy.