Saturday, February 21, 2015

192.10 - Obama's AUMF for ISIS is about endless war

Obama's AUMF for ISIS is about endless war

Back on November 5, PHC* said he would ask Congress for new war power authorities to fight the Islamic State,.

Now, more than three months later and six months since he began the bombing campaign, a campaign that has so far cost more than $1 billion, involved more than 1,700 airstrikes, and seen roughly 3,000 US troops sent to Iraq, he has finally put forth his proposal, even as he continues to insist that he don't need no stinking new authorization because he's the commander in chief, dammit, and besides, the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (or AUMF), a reaction to 9/11, gives him all the authority he needs. What he will do is grandly allow the Congress to agree to what he has been and is doing.

His proposed new AUMF, first, is retroactive: It applies from the start of the bombing campaign last August. The proposal would limit military action against ISIS to three years (absent a renewal of authority) and would repeal the 2002 AUMF that was the basis for the Iraq War.

However, it would not repeal the 2001 AUMF, the one he has been relying on all along, which means whether or not Congress passes this thing, nothing will change. It is utterly meaningless crap.

What's more, the "restrictions" it would place on his lovely little war have more loopholes than a fancy lace doily. For one, it supposedly limits the use of US ground troops to things like rescue operations or intelligence sharing - and even leaving aside just how broadly the term "rescue operations" can be and has been defined, what it actually says is that they can't be used for "enduring offensive ground combat operations," a description vague enough that even party loyalist Dick Durbin was moved to ask, in just these words, "What does it mean?"

And there is no geographical limit on the campaign; it says rather that military force can be used against ISIS "or associated persons or forces," which are defined as "individuals and organizations fighting for, on behalf of, or alongside" ISIS as well as "any closely-related successor entity." Considering that, as happened with al-Qaeda, previously-unrelated groups are taking up the name "ISIS" or some form of it, this could easily be used to justify military attacks on sites not just in Iraq and Syria but in, as of now, Libya, where one group has taken up the name, and we can assume other places in the future.

This is not a prescription for limited war or even targeted war, but for endless war on shifting targets across the globe. In other words, it's exactly the same crap as we have seen for over 13 years now.

Adam Schiff in the Asylum and Ben Cardin and Chris Murphy in the Senate have introduced bills to terminate the 2001 AUMF, which I suppose is good except that they would terminate it in three years, the same time frame as Obama's proposed new AUMF, so I'm really not sure what is the point of not terminating it immediately. It still means, one way or another, giving Obama what the wants while being able to claim to be exercising some sort of oversight - which I suppose is, when all is said and done, the whole purpose of this entire vapid exercise.

When he was running for president in 2008, a major part of O's foreign policy allure was his promise to move the country away from launching open-ended, ill-defined wars with few restrictions and no end game. Like on so many other things, it's turned out that well, he talked real purty but it didn't mean a freaking thing.

*PHC = President Hopey-Changey

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