Sunday, February 8, 2015

ISIS Wants War: Give It To Them, Legally, Full Bore, Relentlessly

President Bush Acted and President Obama is Limited 
Congress Sits and Blames


This post a piggyback to the post below (re: The public gawking as ISIS runs wild). 

The main  reason, however that I am posting this is that I am sick and tired and quite frankly annoyed from listening to all the GOP-rightwing Talk Radio and Cable TV chatter, or in print, or the pronouncements on the House and Senate floors about Mr. Obama being weak and indecisive about ISIS. The chatter is nasty, ugly, disrespectful, has strong racist undertones (oh yes, it does), and quite frankly is wholly un-American by any yardstick. So, that disgust triggered me to post this. I hope you enjoy it for what it is – as factual and honest as possible.

BACKGROUND: The 60 Words and a War Without End: The Untold Story of the Most Dangerous Sentence in U.S. History – (see those words here and in the above graph).

Those words were written in the frenzied, emotional days after 9/11, the AUMF: The Authorization for the Use of Military Force – was intended to give President Bush the ability to retaliate against whoever orchestrated the attacks. But more than 12 years later, this sentence remains the primary legal justification for nearly every covert operation around the world.

INTRODUCTION: President Obama has detailed his response to the growing ISIS threat in Iraq and Syria. He outlined limited bombing, arming various rebel groups, and launching aerial Drone attacks against ISIS. However that has also strengthened large legal questions about the legitimacy of going forward without congressional authorization like that which was done in 2001.

FROM THE JANUARY 2015 STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS (SOTU):

“My first duty as Commander-in-Chief is to defend the United States of America. In doing so, the question is not whether America leads in the world, but how. When we make rash decisions, reacting to the headlines instead of using our heads; when the first response to a challenge is to send in our military – then we risk getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts, and neglect the broader strategy we need for a safer, more prosperous world. That’s what our enemies want us to do.”

“I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now – and around the globe, it is making a difference.”

“First, we stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists – from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris. We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies. At the same time, we’ve learned some costly lessons over the last thirteen years.”  

“Instead of Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan, we’ve trained their security forces, who’ve now taken the lead, and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice by supporting that country’s first democratic transition. Instead of sending large ground forces overseas, we’re partnering with nations from South Asia to North Africa to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten America. In Iraq and Syria, American leadership – including our military power – is stopping ISIL’s advance. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. We’re also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism. This effort will take time. It will require focus. But we will succeed.” 

And tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL.”

Screen Grab When Mr. Obama Made that Request

“That’s how America leads – not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.”  

I totally agree – going to war anytime and anywhere no matter how “limited” it may appear is the most-critical decision any country and will ever make. I reinforce the President’s speech that action must done in unity – that is the legal, official, and democratic way.

Not doing anything beyond what we are doing now against ISIS/ILIL is a decision all by itself. The world waits for the U.S. to act more forcefully. All the while, the Congress doodles while blaming Mr. Obama for doing nothing. He is doing all he legally can right now – Congress is not.  

What is the GOP’s plan for ISIS/ISIL? Sitting on one’s hands is not a plan. Blaming others for your own inaction is not a strategy. Doing nothing is not a plan. The GOP calls Mr. Obama indecisive and weak as well as a ton of other flat out political lies – they are wrong. He asked Congress for an updated authorization to engage ISIS/ISIL and they accuse him of dragging his feet as they sit on their hands.

That is not the message the public needs to hear over and over and then reinforce the GOP line as if that’s policy or even right. It is not. The GOP has a very effective PR machine that blames Obama for everything while they do nothing. That is the point – and the only point. They claim to be strong, decisive, patriotic, ready for war anywhere, anytime – then damnit, show us who you are – the way the Constitution says – yeah, the same document the GOP waves in our face when they want what they want and not necessarily what we need.

Now they are not following their own advice and supposed principled “leadership.” Mr. Obama asked for a new AUMF against ISIS/ISIL – either give it to him and get behind him and it or shut up and stop blaming others for you own shortfall.

Related: The current AUMF got us into Afghanistan and then into Iraq. But, it is considered by many legal scholars to be in serious need of a reboot (from the link above, too) – a must read.

The original AUMF aim was justified and correct and legal, but has since been stretched to the legal limits, and as they say: “Here we are again at the same crossroads facing the same decisions as Congress blames and remains inactive in the process they say they worship – show us.”

Pick any cliché or sound byte you chose: “It’s performance that counts; we need action, not words; and getting positive results, not political grandstanding matters most, etc.” It’s up this Congress. As they say, piss of get off the pot. Congress cannot tell others how to lead when they are not themselves.

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