Georgia’s Delegation and the ISIS Debate We Won’t Get

It’s satisfying to live in the world we want. In the world we occupy, President Obama doesn’t believe he needs Congressional authorization to use military force (war, for us laypeople) against ISIS in Syria. In his speech tonight at 9, we’ll likely hear of a bold plan to eradicate the jihadi menace, though the result will look more like managing it.

Whether the president’s Constitutional end-run will derive from the 2001 Authorization of Military Force or the War Powers Resolution is not yet clear. The former, which has been used to justify action from Guantanamo to Somalia, gave the executive power to engage the butchers of September 11. It has since transmogrified to include the absent words “associated forces,” which means what the administration wants it to mean, thank you for asking. The case that ISIS is an associated force to al Qaeda is difficult to make, given that ISIS did not exist in 2001 and that the two terrorist organizations are famously at odds.

The War Powers Resolution, a relic of our Vietnam adventure, allows the president to use military force if there is “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” That hasn’t happened. But creative lawyers (the most dangerous individuals in the English-speaking world) determined that if the president continues to send notifications to Congress of his actions, the 60 day window need never expire. The legislature is superfluous.

Back to the ideal world. When prolonged media attention brought us close to war with Syria last year, most members of Georgia’s Republican delegation, including Senator Isakson and Congressmen Westmoreland, Collins, Broun, Gingrey, and Graves announced their opposition to the authorization of military force the president now wants to side-step. Congressmen Broun stated there wasn’t a “direct threat to American national security”; Congressman Westmoreland worried about our inability to determine friend from foe in Syria. Senator Chambliss managed to support the strikes and mention the damning lack of strategy in a couple sentences.

Time changes all. Rather than trying to enforce international WMD law, the president hopes to wipe out jihadi barbarians who rightfully terrify us. Traditional Republicans like Kingston, who supported the War on Terror during the contentious Bush years, support limited attacks on ISIS. Isakson wants special forces involved. Rebellious Michigan Congressman Justin Amash (who shares a Ron Paul seal of approval with Paul Broun) is less keen on a new fight.

Congressman David Scott’s office reported that he has sponsored a resolution supporting military force, which I can’t seem to locate. The rest of Georgia’s Democrats have not responded to requests for comment. Few national Democrats have opposed the use of force.

But if 22 year veteran Jack Kingston is any guide, authorization would not pass easily. So easily politicized is the issue that this illiterate New Republic piece accused Kingston of dodging responsibility for electoral gain, before adding that he does, in fact, support a vote on military force.

It could be a hell of a debate, revealing a fascinating legislative divide, between hawkish Republicans and libertarian upstarts, anti-war Democrats and friends of the administration. The debate would tell us much about America’s ideological fault lines and the tensions in our nation’s soul. Too bad we won’t be allowed to have it.

7 comments

  1. John Konop says:

    ………. Congressman Westmoreland worried about our inability to determine friend from foe in Syria……..

    This is my biggest concern in the Middle East. We funded Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein……and how did that work out? Bush 1 had it right…. strike hard and fast, get in-get out fast, we never win having a heavy footprint, large coalition support from countries in the ME and other countries ie opposite of Bush 2 of America being front and center.

  2. gcp says:

    A strange speech where Obama speaks of “success” in Yemen and Somalia. Sort of like his success in Afghanistan and Libya. And who are these coalition members and why are we arming Syrians? Get a congressional vote before any further action. All should be on record as either for or against.

    The strangest comment of the day is from Congressman Hank Johnson who says we should talk with Syrian Pres. Assad. Johnson is the same guy that talks of “demilitarizing” police and of course, the tipping of Guam.

  3. Will Durant says:

    We have become so accustomed to the Executive Branch acting unilaterally using the military that I don’t even know what their boundaries, if in reality there are any, may be. I am not just criticizing this President but all of our recent ones in this regard. They are elected into what many purport to be the most powerful position in the world and I assume it is hard not to attain Nixon’s attitude that “…when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

    Today is the 13th anniversary of one of the worst tragedies we as a nation have suffered on our home soil from foreign attack. I have certainly not forgotten the feeling in the pit of my stomach watching it unfold on a 19″ tv with 50+ others while we stood in an office tower ourselves. Later we found out a former colleague was one of the ones who was able to call a loved one only to say goodbye as he was above the flames with no exit. That being said, how long do we as a country use this to exceed our own legal boundaries, or even moral ones?

    We’ve just been subjected to several weeks of media build-up, some would say propaganda, on the evils of ISIS, ISIL, or IS to justify more military incursion in the Middle East. I’m sure these guys have committed atrocities in Iraq but by the same token we have not heard a whole lot about the atrocities upon the Sunnis allowed by the Shiite controlled regime that we supposedly left in control of the country. Of course the build-up to take out Saddam Hussein included recitations of his atrocities committed to keep the majority Shiites and large minority of Kurds under control. Also including the phantom WMDs when the only ones he ever had were the ones we supplied him with to resist the human horde tactics used by Iran. Even the first Gulf War was preceded by false tales of Iraqis killing babies in the hospitals in Kuwait.

    I find myself in agreement with Henry Kissinger that Iran is the greatest threat in the region and we are essentially allying ourselves with them when we take on ISIS. Of course Iran wouldn’t think so badly of us had we not helped create their current Theocracy way back when we helped depose the only democratically elected leader they ever had to that point to put Shah Pahlavi on a throne. Why? The newly elected Prime Minister was going to nationalize their own oil fields. We are expressing outrage over the shoot down of a passenger jet by the Russians or their agents over Ukraine. We have forgotten that we shot down an Iranian one but believe me, they haven’t.

    We once said we wouldn’t be involved in assassinations yet just the other day we utilized a drone strike to take out the leader of Al-Shabaab in Somalia and it hardly made the news cycle here. I still haven’t seen a report of the ancillary casualties. Drones have been used in Yemen and Pakistan with impunity and yeah we typically get the target but usually with his entire family and more. This just creates more little jihadist minded enemies. When does it all stop? When do we stop thinking we can control the hearts and minds of the rest of the world?

  4. saltycracker says:

    Kissinger does have some good insights in this mess and with Russia – reason the admin has not asked him ?

    I did like the POTUS comment that we will help those that want to help themselves….how do we bring that thought home ?

  5. Three Jack says:

    The ‘Reluctant Warrior’ as Obama was labled by just about every talking head last night bungled this one big time. If MSNBC’s Chris Matthews says it was a bad speech with no clear plan or call to arms, it was a bad speech.

    No boots on the ground, yet there are up to 1100 spec ops folks there now with more on the way. Model after the successes in Yemen and Somalia, that’s a knee slapper. ‘I have the authority….without congress’ reminded me of Cartman screaming ‘respect my authoriti’. This president really has no clue.

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