Forget Obama’s bumbling and congressional diddling on an Authorization for the Use of Military Force. Paul Rayn is hawking a shiny new AUMF.
The new House leader is determined to refashion and tighten his party’s take on waging war against an enemy that has not attacked or certainly invaded the United States.
The recently installed Speaker of the House has made it job one to kickstart a war against the Islamic State despite serious skepticism within the House Republican Conference.
Previous AUMF attempts have gone nowhere. The former House leader tried and failed, and Obama has floated his version, only to watch it mire down in the muck of Congress.
It’s a partisan affair in the House. Republicans say rolling out a new AUMF would be tantamount to approving Obama’s take on foreign policy, not that there is significant difference between Republicans and Democrats on waging illegal wars.
Undeterred, Ryan and his aides are “kicking the tires” in the House, busy trying to drum up Republican support for a more dedicated authorization short of a formal declaration as required in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution.
This adherence to the Constitution long ago went out of fashion, as did apparently the War Powers Resolution, a half baked attempt by Congress to check the ability of a president to send troops overseas willy-nilly minus a formal declaration let alone congressional consultation.
Some Democrats and a sprinkling of Republicans would like to see a new effort to limit the president’s ability to wage war without a formal declaration.
“I’d like to see something clearly defined,” said Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash. “You have to have your enemy clearly defined, you have to have your goals clearly defined. And any AUMF going forward should have a sunset date, which doesn’t mean you’d have to bring your troops home, but Congress would have to reauthorize that.”
Others are less explicit, for instance House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, a Republican from California.
“I’m looking forward to continuing our discussions. As I’ve said before, if we can get an AUMF done that ensures our commanders have the flexibility they need to defeat ISIS, I want to move it,” said Royce. “But ultimately, it is going to be up to President Obama to lead. Containment has failed. The administration already has the authority it needs to take the fight to these radical Islamist terrorists, and it needs to step up.”
All this dithering and Ryan’s hucksterism—and attempt to portray himself as a mega-hawk or super-neocon—are unnecessary.
The first AUMF issued under Bush following 9/11 and the issuance of the PATRIOT Act as well give the war-wager in chief all the unconstitutional authority needed to wage illegal war on ill-defined enemies who do not pose a serious or even palatable threat to the United States.
Fortunately a number of Democrats are gun shy following the disaster of Iraq and the quagmire of Afghanistan, but unfortunately this reluctance has not convinced them to follow the Constitution.
“While I want to give the president the authority to do what he wants with ISIS, I don’t want to give carte blanche,” averred the ranking Democrat member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, New York Rep. Eliot Engel. “We went down that road once before, and it turned out to be a disaster.”
The main sticking point between Republicans and Democrats is centered upon Obama’s insistence no ground troops be committed to the ISIS war. Republicans overall oppose the Obama administration’s approach to bombing and killing.
“In a perfect world, on paper, I’m all for it,” Rep. Tom Rooney told Politico. “But when it comes to Obama and his red lines and his flub-ups he’s had internationally, I hate to be seen giving him the authority or green light or my vote to do anything because I have no confidence in him at all in that theater.”
So an official albeit illegal semi-declaration of war packaged in an AUMF will likely wait until the election is decided later this year. Minus the paperwork, though, the bombs continue to fall.
Republicans and Democrats agree the Islamic State is a threat to the foreign policy directives of the United States in the Middle East. They simply disagree on the language of a document that will be another affront to the Constitution and its unambiguous requirement Congress formally declare war.