How A Conservative Realist Goes To War Against The Islamic State

How A Conservative Realist Goes To War Against The Islamic State

Do you know when the last war declared by Congress was? I’ll give you a clue, it was against Nazis. That’s right, World War 2 was the last time Congress declared war. This may or may not come as a shock depending on how au faire you are with Orwellian doublespeak, all the other times have been interventions or something equally as ambiguous. Despite all of us knowing these violent episodes are war, legally speaking, they are not. The current air strikes against Islamic State were legal under the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which gave the administration 90 days to gain consent from Congress but this deadline has now passed.

To fight the wars in Afghanistan and later Iraq a bill known as the Authorization of Military Force (AUMF) was passed. Rand Paul has previously attempted to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF but has been batted back by the administration. It is true that in the case of the 2001 AUMF the administration has been open to rewriting it and repealing the Iraq AUMF, but it has so far remained off-limits. Now that the Islamic State is causing chaos in the region Paul has tabled a war resolution aimed at limiting intervention in Iraq and Syria but at the same time repealing the 2002 AUMF and enacting the sunset of the 2001 AUMF.

Repealing the AUMF has been one of Paul’s priorities but he’s faced difficulties in doing so through an alliance of hawks in both the Republicans and the Democrats, John Kerry being an especially vocal supporter of intervention. It seems that the elusive bipartisanship that I’ve been calling for is something that is no problem when it comes to fighting.

Rand Paul notes in The Daily Beast that:

Prominent Republicans from the interventionist wing of the party parrot and applaud Kerry’s position. If ever there was too much bipartisanship, it would be the bipartisan acceptance of unlimited presidential war-making power.

This isn’t just a battle against Islamic State but a battle between the executive and legislative powers of the United States government. Historically it is Congress that has the authority to declare war, but recently the executive has just been spraying missiles with abandon. Paul wants to strictly limit the conflict in Iraq to fighting the Islamic State only when U.S. embassies and individuals are threatened or when there is a high value target. This is much different to the powers granted in AUMF which is a rather blanket approach to what has become a fluid and mobile problem.

Join the debate over the Islamic State and repealing the AUMF by sending us a tweet or jumping into the discussion on Facebook.

Written by Abiezer Coppe

(Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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