Tags: Barack Obama | Iraq | ISIS/Islamic State | Syria | New York Times | Bruce Ackerman | Obama

NY Times Op-ed: Obama Request an 'Endorsement' of Unlimited War

By    |   Friday, 13 Feb 2015 10:13 AM

President Barack Obama's request for the limited use of military force for up to three years against the Islamic State sounds like he is recognizing congressional authority for waging war, but instead, it could create an opposite effect, says a New York Times op-ed piece.

"Congressional support will amount to the ringing endorsement of unlimited presidential war making," writes Bruce Ackerman, a professor of law and political science at Yale and the author of "The Decline and Fall of the American Republic."

Ackerman said that lawmakers who take the Constitution seriously must demand the repeal of a 2001 resolution granted to then-President George W. Bush, which authorized military action against al-Qaida following the 9/11 attacks, rather than granting Obama's request.

If that does not happen, Obama's successor will not have to go to Congress to continue the fight past the now-stated 2018 deadline, Ackerman warns, and Congress will risk furthering the distrust that alienates Americans from lawmakers.

The issue is a "double-barreled position" being presented by Obama, who says he already has sufficient authority for an open-ended war against ISIS, basing the claim on the Bush-era resolution. As long as that resolution remains, Obama says he can keep fighting.

However, the president is now seeking congressional authority "for political cover," said Ackerman, and he is opposing a repeal of the Bush authorization. He is promising to refine and repeal the resolution eventually, but "he has failed to follow through on similar commitments in the past," Ackerman writes.

Either way, unless the Bush-era resolution is amended or abolished, Obama's successor can make war indefinitely, whether or not Congress passes Obama's plan.

"Obama isn’t hiding his claim that the old resolution suffices for the new battle — if Congress doesn’t repeal it, the next president’s lawyers will predictably assert that lawmakers were persuaded by Mr. Obama’s expansive claims," said Ackerman.

Back in 2001, when the Bush resolution was passed, he had demanded the authority to make war to "deter and pre-empt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States," but Congress only granted authority to fight groups and countries that were "associated' with the terror attacks.

Both Bush and Obama used the word "associated" to justify war authority by claiming many groups are associated with al-Qaida, even though the connections are becoming increasingly distant, said Ackerman.

And Obama's plan not only does not limit the battles to Iraq and Syria, but also authorizes him to take the fight beyond the Islamic State to include other "associated persons or forces," or "any closely related successor entity," Ackerman points out.

If Congress agrees, Ackerman said, Obama's successor can argue that lawmakers accepted a more expansive use of the Bush plan, and then could use it to start even more wars, by asserting associations between new terror groups like the Islamic State and older ones like al-Qaida.

"People who take the Constitution seriously, on both sides of the aisle, must not allow this to happen," Ackerman concluded. "They should insist on the repeal of the 2001 resolution and an explicit repudiation of the 'associated forces' doctrine.

"Only then will the next president be required to return to Congress to gain its consent if he or she wants to continue the war past the 2018 deadline."

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President Barack Obama's request for the limited use of military force for up to three years against the Islamic State sounds like he is recognizing congressional authority for waging war, but instead, it could create an opposite effect, says a New York Times op-ed piece.
New York Times, Bruce Ackerman, Obama, war, Congress, ISIS
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2015-13-13
Friday, 13 Feb 2015 10:13 AM
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