A mere six months after military operations began against the Islamic State, the White House today formally requested that Congress authorize military operations against the Islamic State. The full text of the resolution proposed by the Obama administration is right here.
Some Democrats criticized the proposal as too broad and too vague. They are right. Several critics I spoke to note that, in its current form, at least, it would not only do little to limit Obama right now, but could also leave thenext president with enormous war-making latitude — whether he or she is a Democrat or a Republican.
To be clear, the proposal is merely an invitation to Congress to offer its own restrictions on Obama’s war-making authority. Still, it falls well short of what is needed, and it remains to be seen whether Congress can step in and do better.
The notion of this particular Congress "doing better" on anything at all is laughable, let alone the notion that they would craft a smart, limited authorization. They're way too eager to send in tens of thousands of US troops and saddle us with another dozen years of boots on the ground.
The proposal would authorize armed force against “ISIL or associated persons or forces,” a category that is loosely defined as any entity that is fighting “alongside ISIL” or is a “closely-related successor.” It would not authorize the use of force in “enduring offensive ground combat operations,” which is also pretty loose wording and doesn’t say what operations force would be limited to. It says authorization would terminate three years after the proposal’s enactment by Congress, which means it might be operative after the mission is accomplished, however that might be defined.
“This is a constructive proposal, but it’s not sufficiently limited,” Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union tells me. “It lacks geographic limitations, it uses loose language to describe the category of groups that can be targeted, and it fails to state at all clearly the specific objective for which military force is being authorized.”
In other words, Obama's authorization language after the Republicans get a hold of it is a disaster waiting to happen. The problem is the GOP Congress will almost certainly make it worse. Depending on what they come up with, I'm hoping that Democrats will vote no.
The entire situation is just another decade plus of ground war waiting to happen, and there's no way in hell we can handle it.