The Islamic State is a growing threat in the Middle East. Unfortunately, it is one that President Obama seems incapable of dealing with. According to CNN, more than 50% of Americans think President Obama’s handling of the Islamic State situation is less than acceptable. Over 70% of Americans want Congress to give the President the necessary authorizations to wage war on the enemy.
Congress should give President Obama that authorization, but in so doing Congress should give the President what he and his successors need, which is not what President Obama wants.
President Obama has repeatedly show that he does not need Congressional authorization to send troops into harms way. Libya is a case in point. In the Syrian situation, the President did not get what he wanted from Congress, but still engaged the enemy. In fact, in this case, President Obama has already explicitly said he does not need Congressional authority to fight the Islamic State, but also now claims he does.
Now, President Obama wants an authorization to use military force (“AUMF”), but he wants an authorization to use force that prohibits him from using force. This proposal would restrict the role of ground troops, rely on allies who have already failed to contain the threat, and, most crucially, would repeal the 2002 AUMF that Congress granted President Bush.
It is a clear indication that President Obama not only does not want to fight the Islamic State, but also wants to tie the hands of future Presidents. In fact, his State Department spokeswoman went on record yesterday that we cannot win by killing ISIS members. We have to get them out of poverty and give them jobs to beat them. She actually said this.
Consequently, Congress should give President Obama what he needs. He needs an AUMF that authorizes the President to use all force necessary to shut down the Islamic State including, but not limited to, ground troops in the discretion of the President.
President Obama wants the dog and pony show of getting an AUMF that ties his hands so he can either blame Congress or hamstring his successor in office.
Congress should reject the President’s AUMF request and, instead, give him what he needs. Then let the American people see that Congress has given the President what he needs and either the Democrats have filibustered it or the President himself refuses to fight.