On February 11, President Barack Obama has announced his proposal for the appropriate military response against the Islamic State militants. However, he stated that he is open to negotiate with Congress on certain parts of his preposition, such as his request for a new authorization for military force, the use of American troops, and the three-year limit on U.S. military operations.
On Monday, lawmakers ensemble in Washington and begin working on Obama’s request. Opinions differ, as some Republicans think that Obama’s terms are too restrictive, if the mission should have a chance of success. On the other hand, there are Democrats who feel the Obama’s authority should be more limited, so the United Stated doesn’t end up waging another open-ended war.
White House representatives said that Obama has offered no wiggle-room for any geographic restrictions. He stated that the U.S. military should be able to pursue Islamic State militants over the borders of Iraq and Syria, where their current strongholds reside, because they have also been operating over international boundaries. But the rest of his proposal is up for debate, including the three-year time limit and the more controversial section on ground troops.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest says he urges the members of the Congress to look over the legislation and decide if there are changes that could be made for a better support; in the end, Obama’s proposal is just the starting point for a constructive debate, Earnest said.
The president claimed he does not need a new authorization for the pursuing of Islamic State terrorists to be legal, because he has been using the authorizations given to former President George W. Bush after the 9/11 terrorist attacks as a legal basis for the strikes he has launched against them for months.
But Obama has got his critics who argue that his use of those authorizations is a stretch at best, and the White House’s stance against ISIS should be approved or disapproved on its own. Presidential officials did not go on record with this information, because they are not authorized to discuss the negotiations.
If a new authorization is passed into law, Obama won’t be able to rely on the 2001 authority for his purpose of pursuing the Islamic State group. Instead, he would have to act on the new powers. One of the White House officials suggested that Congress could establish a statute of limitations on that authorization. If Obama receives a new authority, this will be the base for all his ongoing operation against the militant group. The change in the legislation would avoid future situations when other presidents would want to interpret the law as Obama has since last year.
Top ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, California Rep. Adam Schiff, has been pressing the White House to include in the new debate an end to the 2001 authorization. He believes the lawmakers won’t agree on another round of debates, and that this is the ideal opportunity for rewriting it.
Even though President Obama said that the fate of the 2001 authorization is to be ultimately revoked, he is still using it, and not just for the campaign against the Islamic State. The authority is also the basis for the attacks on militants in Yemen, for the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and basically anywhere else where the U.S. military is currently in action.
Obama’s draft stipulates a three-year limit, which means that the next president will have to come back in front of the Congress and ask for its renewal – if the fight against the Islamic State will still be happening. Obama seems to thinks so. He also tried to unite the two fronts in Congress over the role of ground troops by proposing a ban on “enduring offensive combat operations”.
During his announcement of the proposal, Obama stated that the current conditions allow him to launch intelligence collection, rescue missions, and the use of special operations forces in the proposed military response against the IS leaders. He clearly specified that he is not asking authorization for another ground war, like the ones in Afghanistan or Iraq. White House officials are open to alternative suggestions to the proposal, as long as the president’s ability to send in ground troops for targeted missions will not be altered.
The proposal’s future is rather uncertain, as the White House and lawmakers are both expecting that the other side will claim responsibility for the approval of the legislation. However, neither seems to be ready to take it to the next level, in fear of the political liability if the legislation fails.
Image Source: Washington Times