President Obama has asked something of Congress that the legislative branch of government isn’t likely to do.
He wants Congress to authorize the commander in chief to keep up the fight against the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations abroad.
The president’s speech from the Oval Office tonight didn’t break much new ground. He restated what he’s already done in the effort to destroy ISIL.
The bombing campaign will continue; we’ll deploy special forces to work with local ground forces in Iraq and Syria; we’ll keep hunting down terrorist leaders; we will work with allies such as France, the U.K. and Germany to pound terrorist targets; and we will seek to negotiate a ceasefire in Syria so that our allies and “other countries, such as Russia” can concentrate on eliminating international terrorists.
Then came the challenge to the other branch of government that needs to buy into this struggle.
Congress must vote to authorize continued action. The British Parliament enacted a similar authorization this past week and within minutes of the vote, British jets took off to hit ISIL targets in Syria.
The president has asked Congress, in effect, to issue a declaration of war against ISIL. Will it happen? I’m not holding my breath.
Republicans who control both legislative chambers seem to believe we need to commit ground troops to this fight. They want to return American service personnel to the battlefield. Air strikes aren’t enough, they say. So, let’s put “boots on the ground.”
The president won’t do that. He reiterated that view again tonight.
However, he has tendered a reasonable challenge to Congress. Let’s put forward a united front to our enemies, authorize the president to continue the fight and demonstrate that the United States is fully committed to winning this war.
My own view is that we’re at war with the Islamic State, then the president needs to ask Congress to issue the declaration of war … and that Congress needs to act.
What we have now on the table is the next-best thing.
Members of Congress, give the president the authorization he seeks to fight this war.