Friday, August 22, 2014

170.8 - Outrage of the Week: Barack Obama and war powers

Outrage of the Week: Barack Obama and war powers


There is a great deal of news coming out of Iraq but I'm not, at least not this week, going to spend any significant time talking about it, partly because it's one of those situations such that whatever I say could be obsolete by the time you hear it.

But I am going to address one narrow point and it is the Outrage of the Week.

On August 7, Barack Obama authorized US airstrikes on ISIS military targets. The purpose, we were told, was to support Kurdish forces trying to hold off ISIS and to protect Yazidi refugees trapped in the mountains in northern Iraq, refugees that ISIS regards as "devil worshippers" worthy of death. There were 14 strikes in the first four days.

Meanwhile, the Amazing Mr. O has authorized the deployment of 130 additional military advisers to northern Iraq, bringing the total number of US advisers in Iraq to over 400. Secretary of War Chuck Hagel insists "This is not a combat boots on the ground kind of operation," but considering these additional "advisers" include Marines and special operations forces, the difference between "combat troops" and "advisers" may be much more semantic than real.

As columnist Doyle McManus at the LA Times wrote,
[e]ven without American boots on the ground, Obama has entered the United States in its fourth Iraq war. It won't be over quickly. As the president said, this is going to be a long-term project.
And boots on the ground may be in the future: The Wall Street Journal reports that the military is weighing a mission in Iraq to rescue the thousands of Yazidi refugees, a move that would risk putting American forces in a direct confrontation with ISIS fighters.

The paper says the proposal is still under development and hasn't been approved by Obama, adding the military calls it just one of "many" options. Perhaps so, but that still means it's an option.

Okay, that's the news, or at least the part of it involving US military forces.

So here's the question: In all of that, in all the coverage, in all the discussions of sorties and plans being weighed and "no combat troops" press releases, in all of that was there any discussion, any word about, the authority to do any of this?

Where is Obama's authority to start dropping bombs in Iraq? Where is his authority to undertake military missions? Where would be his authority to send us ground troops into Iraq for any reason, humanitarian or otherwise? Where is his authority to get us into our fourth Iraq war?

Note that this has nothing to do with whether you think what he's doing is a good idea or not. It has nothing to do with whether you think a rescue mission for the Yazidis is a good or a bad idea. It has to do with his implicit claims of constitutional authority to send the US military anywhere he wants, any time he wants, on any mission he wants, seemingly in any numbers he wants, without needing any approval from Congress.

And not only is he claiming that power, we have a Congress and a media that apparently are content to let him have it. And that is to me and should be to you, frightening. I have to ask yet again: Mr. President, just who the hell do you think you are? Because what you are doing Is. An. Outrage.

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