Obama’s Phony War Limits – Jacob Sullum

After waging war on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for six months, President Obama is asking Congress for its blessing. But whether or not he gets it, he plans to continue doing whatever he thinks is necessary to “degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group.”

President Barack Obama visits Al Faw Palace on...

Since he will not take no for an answer, Obama’s solicitation of the legislative branch’s input is a gesture of contempt rather than respect. Congress should assert its constitutional authority by rescinding the 2001 authorization for use of military force (AUMF) that Obama implausibly claims already gives him permission for his war on ISIS.

The 2001 AUMF authorized military action against the perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In a 2013 speech, Obama called upon Congress to “refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate,” because “unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight.”

Last year Obama illustrated that danger by citing the 2001 AUMF as a justification for the military campaign against ISIS, which did not exist in 2001 and is no longer part of Al Qaeda. The ISIS-specific AUMF that he proposed last week repeals the 2002 resolution authorizing George W. Bush’s war in Iraq but conspicuously leaves in place the 2001 AUMF.

Given Obama’s reading of the post-9/11 resolution, the details of the new AUMF ultimately do not matter, but they do illustrate the president’s bad faith. The proposed resolution authorizes military action “against ISIL [another name for ISIS] or associated persons or forces” anywhere in the world, a broad mandate that could easily lead to a proliferation of enemies and battlefields.

The “limitations” included in Obama’s AUMF have no teeth. One says the AUMF “does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.” It’s anybody’s guess what “enduring” means.

Read the rest via Obama’s Phony War Limits – Reason.com.

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