Obama wants to start a new Iraq war and wants cover from Congress.
Obama is going to Congress in order to get authorization for war. On the face of it, this move honors the Constitution. I would certainly hate it if Obama launched a war and said he didn’t need Congress’ approval.
According to Associated Press:
The White House circulated a proposal Tuesday to authorize the Pentagon to fight Islamic State terrorists without an “enduring offensive combat” role, an ambiguous phrase designed to satisfy lawmakers with widely varying views on the need for U.S. ground operations.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J, describing the proposal to reporters, said President Barack Obama would seek an authorization for the use of force that would expire after three years. It would end the approval for operations in Iraq that Congress passed in 2002.
Menendez spoke after he and other Democratic senators met privately with top White House aides, on the eve of an anticipated formal request for legislation from the president.
“Hopefully there will not be a significant delay in Congress acting,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.
A couple of minor points here: First, if people in Congress have problems with what might happen, how does “an ambiguous phrase” satisfy their concerns? It is meaningless and unenforceable.
Second, if they want to make sure there is no “significant delay in Congress acting,” then why not meet with a bipartisan group rather than simply huddling with some of the few remaining Democrat senators?
But the real concern I have here is that we all realize why Barack Obama wants Congresses approval. We know it isn’t because he actually feels legally obligated to get Congress to declare war. As we have seen with Mali and Syria and Libya time and again, Obama does not believe he needs to get Congress’ permission.
As I have written before regarding Syria, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the Congress that the question of whether or not to go to war would be decided between the President and trans-national entities like NATO and the UN. The hawkish Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) tried to get Panetta to show that he had some inkling of Constitutional government. Here is part of the exchange, where Sessions asked about the past decision to bomb Libya without consulting with Congress:
Sessions: “We spent our time worrying about the UN, the Arab League, NATO, and too little time worrying about the elected representatives of the United States. Do you think you can act without Congress and initiate a No Fly Zone in Syria, without congressional approval?”
Panetta: “Again, our goal would be to seek international permission and we would come to the Congress and inform you and determine how best to approach this. Whether or not we would want to get permission from the Congress, I think those are issues I think we would have to discuss as we decide what to do here.”
The conversation only got worse from there. Panetta doubled down on his position that he would inform Congress of their decisions and international permissions. No one even suggested that Panetta be immediately arrested. The Republic died.
So why is Obama now going to Congress. Obviously he wants political cover. He wants to be able to put as much of the responsibility for going back to Iraq as he can on the Republicans who control the House and Senate.