Tags: Exclusive Interviews | ISIS/Islamic State | MidPoint | general | war | congressional | approval

Lt. Gen. Bolger: War With ISIS Requires Congressional Approval

By    |   Friday, 14 November 2014 07:27 PM

Even without a massive re-commitment of troops to the Middle East, any American war against the Islamic State (ISIS) must win the public's support and, under the Constitution, be submitted to Congress for a formal vote on use of military force, says a former U.S. battlefield commander in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And if neither the public nor Congress says yes, then our forces stay home, retired Army Lt. Gen, Daniel Bolger, who has written critically about his experience in two wars, told "MidPoint" Host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Friday.

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Bolger, author of "Why We Lost: A General's Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars," credited President Barack Obama with "pretty much doing about what we need to" in Iraq for starters, strategically speaking, which is "to empower the Iraqis" themselves to take on Islamic State forces.

"It's their fight to win," said Bolger.

But any U.S. force commitment requires legitimizing constitutional cover, he said — meaning debate and approval in Congress, and, ideally, an effort to persuade Americans that stopping violent Sunni radicals abroad keeps them from coming here.

"The most important thing we have to do is go to the American people, to their elected representatives in Congress, and get an authorization for the use of military force," he said.

"For God's sakes, think about following the Constitution and declare war on ISIS. Let them know we're not going to quit until this is done.

"That is a very serious message," said Bolger, "and it's not the sort of thing that people will want because it sounds pretty harsh, but you know what? That debate is what we need. If the American people say no, then we need to listen to them."

He said another U.S. mobilization on the scale of the two wars fought after 9-11 is unlikely.

"We've already tried this with over 100,000 U.S. troops," said Bolger. "It doesn't work. Our population doesn't want us there rooting around for decades to come in those Arab villages. The Iraqis have got to take the lead."

He said the Iraqi government needs to be addressed forcefully.

"We put our fingers in their chest and say, 'If you want American support, advice and training, here are some things you've got to do,' " said Bolger.

Bloger also discussed his new book, and a scathing op-ed he wrote in the New York Times, about U.S. failures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"In my mind, what we did in the current war in Afghanistan and the previous campaign in Iraq, we took that great army that's built to do a Desert Storm … and we instead used it to do another pair of Vietnams," he said.

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He pointed a finger at himself for not recognizing the mismatch.

"I hold myself responsible for that error" he said. "In the military, the commanders are responsible for everything [their] unit does or fails to do. We failed to figure out a way to prosecute these wars correctly."

But those past failures do not exempt elected officials from their constitutional obligations today, he said.

"It bugs me that the last authorization for the use of military force in this country was in October 2002," said Bolger.

"How about a declaration of war that names who the enemy is?" he said. "And we tell them, 'We're coming after you until you're dead.' And there's no monkeying around with maybe 'degrading' this, that or the other. You're going after them."

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Even without a massive re-commitment of troops to the Middle East, any American war against the Islamic State (ISIS) must win the public's support and, under the Constitution, be submitted to Congress...
general, war, congressional, approval
Friday, 14 November 2014 07:27 PM
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