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Obama’s “Limited” Perpetual War

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Ryan Goodman comments at greater length on the dangerous implications of the administration’s draft resolution for the war on ISIS:

But if the authorization to strike al Qaeda targets has been far reaching, the Islamic State AUMF is even broader. Already, groups are popping up around the world — from Libya to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to the mountains of Afghanistan — pledging allegiance to the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliph. That puts them all in the cross-hairs. But why stop there?

The president’s proposal would go a step further than earlier measures by authorizing force against associated forces of “any closely-related successor entity” to the Islamic State. In other words, the president is asking Congress to endorse his theory that looped in the Islamic State under the 2001 AUMF as a “successor” to al Qaeda. More to the point, he’s asking Congress to authorize force against “associated forces” of the Islamic State’s future successors [bold mine-DL].

The administration wants to make permanent its preposterous justification for treating ISIS as Al Qaeda’s “successor” for the purpose of applying the 2001 AUMF to the group (despite the open and public rivalry between them). It wants to make sure that it and future administrations will be able to target whatever splinter group is later deemed to be ISIS’ “successor.” In this way, the new AUMF could provide cover for waging war not only against any random jihadist group that chooses to identify itself with ISIS no matter where they might be or what threat they pose to the U.S., but could conceivably permit military action against groups that split from ISIS or turn against them. It could also permit military action against any other groups that are just as tenuously linked to the so-called “successor.” The administration is seeking approval for a “limited” war that it envisions as being virtually unlimited in terms of place, duration, and potential targets.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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