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The Illegal War Against ISIS and Congress’ Abdication

Michael Hogue

The New York Timesdemands that Congress act on a new AUMF for the war against ISIS before the new year:

While it is important for Congress to repeal the 2002 authorization for the Iraq War and terminate the 2001 authorization against Al Qaeda, the priority in the lame-duck session should be to pass a new and separate authorization for the war against ISIS.

If the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is unable to get such an authorization approved, Mr. Kaine and others should try to attach it as an amendment to other related legislation. It’s past time for Congress to exhibit some courage and take a stand.

There’s no question that members of Congress have been evading their responsibilities on the war against ISIS, but they have been allowed and even encouraged in this abdication by an administration that pretends that it doesn’t need a new authorization measure and has made no attempt to provide Congress with a draft resolution that it can consider. Despite Obama’s announcement that he wants Congress to pass a new AUMF, he and his officials have done nothing to move that process forward:

But senior officials at the Pentagon and on the Hill say they don’t know what the administration will propose for a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), or when the White House will propose it — if at all.

This may reflect the administration’s view that the president doesn’t need a new resolution authorizing the use of force, or it may simply be evidence of carelessness and incompetence on the part of administration officials. Whatever the reason, Obama has not only been waging an illegal war for more than three months, but he is confirming how little he cares about Congress’ role on this issue by taking no steps to give the new war against ISIS a firm legal foundation. He is counting on Congress’ irresolution and dereliction of duty to let him continue waging his illegal war without a debate or a vote in Congress, and he has already made clear that he thinks he can wage this war even if Congress does nothing.

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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