President Obama Unveils War Authorization Resolution Against ISIS

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama today made the case for military action against ISIS. The president unveiled a proposal to grant him authorization for the use of force. He is seeking a vote in Congress.

“The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) poses a threat to the people and stability of Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East, and to U.S. national security. It threatens American personnel and facilities located in the region and is responsible for the deaths of U.S. citizens James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller. If left unchecked, ISIL will pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland,” the White House wrote in a message to Congress.

The proposal does not allow for ground troops to be deployed for “enduring offensive ground combat operations.” The wording leaves the door open for special forces missions. It also contains a provision aimed at soothing concerns of war-weary Americans: the resolution limits authorization to a three year time period after enactment, although Congress would have the authority to reauthorize the mission.

“I am convinced that the U.S. should not get back into another ground war in the Middle East — it’s not in our national security interest and not necessary for us to defeat ISIL,” the president says.

The resolution would repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq. The United States removed its troops from Iraq at the end of 2011 but the law authorizing the war remained in effect.

However, the joint resolution leaves in places the war authorization that dates back to shortly after September 11, 2001 — often known simply as the AUMF. President Obama had said in the past that he wanted to repeal the AUMF of 2001.

The AUMF of 2001 allowed President Bush and subsequent presidents “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.”

Since the AUMF of 2001 has not been repealed, the war authorization continues to be used to justify actions across the globe. Its open-ended wording has drawn criticism from civil liberties organizations. The government has used the war authorization to justify the NSA’s electronic surveillance programs and for a variety of US military actions across the globe, including drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.

The president maintains that his proposed actions are justified and that ISIS will ultimately be defeated.

“Now, make no mistake, this is a difficult mission and it will remain difficult for some time,” the president said during a press conference. “Our coalition is on the offensive, ISIL is on the defensive and ISIL is going to lose.”

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