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Make Obama Go to Congress for More War in Iraq

With the Islamic warriors of ISIS having captured all the border posts between Iraq, Syria, and Jordan, we may be witnessing the end of Sykes-Picot. That was the secret 1916 treaty by which the British and French carved up the Ottoman Empire, with the Brits taking Transjordan and Iraq, and the French Syria and Lebanon. Sykes-Picot stuck in the craw of Osama bin Laden. Now his most fanatical followers have given him a posthumous triumph.

President Obama said over the weekend that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which seeks to create a caliphate out of the Sunni lands of Syria and Iraq it occupies, poses a threat to the United States. Obama has thus committed 300 special forces to assist Iraq’s defeated and demoralized army, and there is talk of U.S. air and missile strikes and drone attacks on ISIS, in Syria as well as in Iraq.

That would constitute a new war. Yet the president, who taught constitutional law, says he does not need Congressional authorization. He is dead wrong. Not only has he no authority to take America into civil wars in Iraq and Syria, he would be insane to do so without the support of his countrymen, as expressed in a vote by Congress.

Obama is about to make a decision fateful for himself and for his country. Does he not realize that he is on the edge of an abyss, about to stumble into a tribal and religious war across the Middle East? The Iraq we left behind three years ago no longer exists. It has been divided up into a Kurdistan, the Sunni region of the north and west, and a Shia-dominated Baghdad and south.

To put the Iraq of Sykes-Picot back together would require thousands of troops to recapture and hold Iraq’s border towns and to reimpose Baghdad’s rule over Anbar and the Sunni Triangle. As the Iraqi army has been routed from this region, recapturing these Sunni lands could require U.S. troops in numbers to rival the surge that enabled Gen. David Petraeus to defeat al-Qaida in Iraq.

Yet the situation in the Sunni region is more hostile today.

The Sunni do not want U.S. troops fighting to force them back under Baghdad’s rule. Some have welcomed ISIS as allies in the fight to be free of a hated Shia-dominated army and regime. Some Sunni Arab states are expressing bewilderment that the United States seems about to start a war on the Sunni regions. Are we really going to send planes to bomb and kill our former allies, with their wives and children as collateral damage?

Among the Shia volunteers on whose side we would be fighting are the Mahdi Army we fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Many have blood debts to collect from U.S. soldiers. Ayatollah Khamenei says that while he might welcome the use of U.S. air power against ISIS, he does not want U.S. troops to return to Baghdad or the Shia south. Is the U.S. Air Force going to become the Condor Legion of the Ayatollah Khamenei?

Assume that we intervened massively, led the Iraq army back into the Sunni north and west, and helped it to recapture Mosul and the border posts. How many U.S. troops would we have to leave behind in Iraq to prevent a future Shia regime from losing its Sunni provinces a third time? The Iraqi army that we trained at a cost of $25 billion and left behind in 2011 folded like a house of cards. How many times must we do this? And if we defeat ISIS, would not these jihadists simply retreat into the Syrian territories they now occupy, as their privileged sanctuary, to come back and fight another day?

Who wants U.S. troops back in Iraq? The American people do not. Congress does not. Tehran does not. The Shia extremists do not. The Sunnis do not. And ISIS does not. We would be fighting in a war with enemies in all directions.

Yet, is there not a danger that terrorists could use the ISIS-dominated region of Iraq and Syria to plot attacks on us? Surely. But that would be a far greater threat to Turkey and Bashar Assad’s Syria, and the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia, than to us. Let them do the fighting this time. After all, it is their backyard, not ours. And as we saw on 9/11 and at Ford Hood, Muslim fanatics who want to kill Americans do not need safe havens in Tora Bora to plot and prepare. They can do that in Northern Virginia and Delray Beach.

Rand Paul is right. If Barack Obama wants to take us into a new war, with air attacks and drone strikes, or with ground troops, he has a constitutional duty to get Congress to authorize that war. And if Congress does authorize a new war, at least the voters will know whom to be rid of this November.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? [1] Copyright 2014 Creators.com [2].

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Comments Disabled To "Make Obama Go to Congress for More War in Iraq"

#1 Comment By John Gruskos On June 24, 2014 @ 10:26 am

We can weaken ISIS without taking military action.

We could end economic sanctions against the enemies of ISIS, such as Assad and Iran.

We can stop giving aid to the allies of ISIS, such as the Syrian rebels.

We can insist that our “allies” – Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia – do the same.

If the Israelis refuse, we can stop giving them foreign aid.

If the Saudi’s refuse, we can aggressively pursue a policy of energy independence, putting downward pressure on world oil prices.

If the Turks refuse, we can expel them from NATO, making an issue of their occupation of north Cyprus and reparations for the Armenian genocide.

We can protect ourselves from Sunni extremists by simply ending immigration from the region of the world which gave us the Boston bombers, Fort Hood shooter and the 9/11 hijackers. We can help protect our European allies from the same threat by instructing our State Department to cease funding anti-nationalist movements.

These actions wouldn’t cost us one drop of blood, and they would be financially beneficial.

#2 Comment By SDS On June 24, 2014 @ 11:15 am

Looks like we’ll go in blindly again; then wonder why all is going wrong….Congres will refuse to vote for or against; but condemn the admin. for fecklessness; and then for inadequate “action”….The perfect way to get more fanatics to feel they have to hit the U.S. again….

What is going on in this country….?

#3 Comment By Francis On June 24, 2014 @ 11:25 am

Thank you Pat, for a thoughtful, historically accurate assessment of the Iraqi situation.

I hope your message is heard loud and clear by supporters of military action on both sides of the aisle.

#4 Comment By grumpy realist On June 24, 2014 @ 11:52 am

It’s not President Obama you’ve got to worry about; it’s all those on your side of the aisle (like John McCain) who are going to accuse him of treason unless he sends in the military.

Control your own troops first, boyo. Rand Paul is an outlier.

#5 Comment By Spurwing Plover On June 24, 2014 @ 12:21 pm

I wonder how the Nobel Peace Prize Commity feels now that they awarded a war monger i hope their losing a lot of sleep at night feeling so irresponsible

#6 Comment By Uncle Billy On June 24, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

Sending US troops back into Iraq, into these murky waters is pure insanity. What objectives will they attempt to secure? What are their goals?None of these questions have been answered or can be answered.

The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. Since Veitnam, Congress has abdicated its lawful responsibility and allowed the Executive Branch to run wild. it is time for Congress to re-assert its rightful authority in declaring war, or not declaring war, wih the President obeying them.

#7 Comment By Francis On June 24, 2014 @ 12:35 pm

An topic that both the left of the right should be able to agree upon is the role of international banking in terrorism, the drug trade and other illicit activities.

All of the above would be greatly hampered by stricter money-laundering and money transfer laws and more important, stricter prosecution along with stiff criminal penalties.

Paris-based BNP Paribas SA recently settled such a case with the U.S. Justice Department, agreeing to pay $9 Billion in fines for illegal transactions with the Sudan and Iran.

As part of the agreement, 30 employees were terminated but so far no reports of any criminal prosecution.

$9 Billion represents hardly more than a year of the bank’s net profits.

Where is the outrage over this settlement?

#8 Comment By SteveM On June 24, 2014 @ 1:04 pm

Excellent points by Pat Buchanan. Americans will be ill served by a Congress yet again rolling over to an (arrogant) Imperial President.

BTW, embedded in this article by the Anti-War Jeremiah Chris Hedges, is a related and very incisive analysis by Andrew Bacevich:


#9 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 24, 2014 @ 3:28 pm

Congress-critters don’t want to authorize war overtly because the voters are against it; but neither do they want to stand in the way of the pro-war policies their donorist masters require of them. Best to let the unaccountable executive act unilaterally.

#10 Comment By Francis On June 24, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

Grumpy is correct — Obama himself is not the problem; rather, Obama and other Democrats feeling pressure from Conservative to “do something.”

I have issues with both parties and both political spectrums. One of my biggest issues with Democrats is their fear of being labeled soft on defense or soft on terrorism.

Sadly, despite wrapping themselves with patriotism, Republicans will not put principle above politics and for the nation’s good join with the President to show a united front on a very serious issue.

#11 Comment By spite On June 24, 2014 @ 4:09 pm

“It’s not President Obama you’ve got to worry about; it’s all those on your side of the aisle (like John McCain)”

I am absolutely certain that Buchanan does not regard McCain as being on his side.

#12 Comment By channelclemente On June 24, 2014 @ 4:44 pm

Oddly, Obama agrees with Buchanan on seeking Congressional approval. It seems to be Congress madly back peddling to avoid having to exercise its responsibilities.

#13 Comment By Bill Jones On June 24, 2014 @ 5:31 pm

The interests of the American people are twofold in this region:
Consistent secure access to energy.
A denial of territory to, and a suppression of, radical groups who might use “terrorist” attacks against the US.

They are best met by having strong, stable secular governments in the middle east.

The interests of Israel lie in having failed states with various rival militia and terrorist groups constantly at war.

Why did the US spend trillions of dollars turning what we had into what we have?

#14 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 24, 2014 @ 6:45 pm

Opportunism ever seeks a stage.

No the executive may go to Congress. He may even should go to Congress. But it is not mandatory and any attempt to manipulate the executive in this manner should be net with same care as Pres. Richard Nixon, Pres Jimmy Carter, Pres. Ronald Reagan, Pres. Bill Cinton and Pres. George Bush – both of them

With a polite wink and a nod.

Another political ruse — we got into this mess with the assent of Congressional approval. Yawn and yawn — War Powers Act/Resolution

Anyone with a tinge os sense understands that this is a vital tool of diplomacy.

The issue that the gentleman out to be addressing Homeland Security, PA and subsequent protocols to reign in executive and central authority. His choice is popular dog and pony showmanship. One wonders if there’s an ounce of courage creativity is his entire being.

#15 Comment By James Canning On June 24, 2014 @ 7:13 pm

Picot thought Sykes would let France have control of Mosul.

#16 Comment By laurent On June 25, 2014 @ 8:41 am

Let’s remember what General David Petraeus said.

“The [Israel-Palestine] conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a
perception of US favouritism for Israel.

Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of US partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR [Centcom’s Area of
Responsibility] and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world.

Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilise support.

The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizballah and Hamas.”

#17 Comment By Mr. Patrick On June 25, 2014 @ 9:34 am

Why give GOP opportunists a do-over on the Iraq War vote? Better to let Iraq fall apart, take the poll hit on a lame duck, and run against warmongering Republicans again in 2016.

#18 Comment By Majumder On June 25, 2014 @ 1:53 pm

“Make Obama go to Congress for more war in Iraq.” — P. Joseph Buchanan

I was listening to the Hugh Hewitt Show yesterday where former “Mr. Vice President” Dick Cheney was telling us what a great accomplishment “Iraq invasion” was during his administration when he was the de facto president of the United States from 2001 to 2008.

Now as establishment Republicans are back to Senate after winning their primaries, we will hear more and more of the beatings of war drums in order to win the White House in 2016.

But, “More war” rhetoric will backfire on Republicans when a Democrat like Hillary Clinton recaptures the White House in 2016 as American voters are fed up and do not want American blood and treasures to be wasted anymore in foreign lands!

#19 Comment By Ethan On June 25, 2014 @ 3:21 pm

Another excellent article by Pat Buchanon. I would like to add this to the discussion.

I think there is little danger that his country is going to get involved in a major way in a new war in Iraq. Obama doesn’t want it, the Congress is too scared to get involved, and the American people are fairly united in opposition too it. Only the usual group of beltway chickenhawks are clamoring for it, and their insane allies such as the WSJ. They came out of the woodwork last week in a clearly coordinated effort to incite war and were met even by their usual allies with everything from skepticism to “you have got to be kidding me”. The air is clearly going out of this latest war craze.
But the President should not let it rest here. There is a need to “spike the ball” on this issue for the sake of future war crazes. The President should use the bully pulpit here and go before the American people on a nation wide broadcast. In his address, he should make the following points:

*Iraq is a mess and there are few good options. Baring full scale US military intervention, there is going to be an all out civil war and it is going to be in all likelihood a humanitarian disaster on a scale like Syria

*The last Iraq war lasted almost a decade, cost thousands of US lives, cost in excess of a trillion dollars, and completely failed to reestablish a viable state.

*Half measures such as an airwar, special forces on the ground, or sending peacekeeping forces are merely prolonging the agony and will accomplish nothing. The Sunni jihadis are hard core fanatics who have already demonstrated their ability to absorb just about everything we have thrown at them in the past. We also have little in the area that we can qualify as “allies” to begin with.

*Only a full scale US Military invasion of both Iraq and Syria will end the growing conflict. The two wars are completely intertwined and one cannot be ended without the other. The minimum force necessary is likely to be in excess of a half million men and the long term financial commitment on the scale of many trillion dollars. There will need to be an occupation of both countries of indefinite duration possibly lasting decades. For military families, this may mean deployment durations exceeding those of the last Iraq war.

*The alternative is no military commitment whatsoever, and establishing a dialogue with the surrounding countries to contain the violence to the core Sunni areas of Iraq and Syria. In short diplomacy.

*As president, before considering a military solution of the problem, I am calling upon the Congress of the United States the authority to commit a force of no less than 500000 men, the financial commitment on budget of 1 trillion dollars, for a duration that cannot be determined at this present time

And then all President Obama has to do is sit back and watch as the Neocons and their congressional allies make an epic scuttle for the exits.