‘There Are No Easy Wars’ But Where Will This Path With ISIS Lead Us?

‘There Are No Easy Wars’ But Where Will This Path With ISIS Lead Us?

There are no easy wars left, writes James Poulos on The Week, and Americans don’t have the stomach for difficult wars. Poulos sees “a full-blown war” on the horizon within the next 10 years or less, but who is the “enemy”? Where do the lines begin and end? Whether you agree with him or not, America is challenged with how to handle the growing threat of ISIS, but does that mean we should go into a war without boundaries or limits? That is the question that still remains hotly debated from a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing earlier this month.

Obama requested a new authorization of use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State from Congress in February. His proposed ISIS AUMF, however, is shockingly open-ended. There are no geographical, deployed personnel numbers, or specific time limits in the AUMF; politicians like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who strive to limit presidential power, are concerned.

Christine Wormouth, Obama’s undersecretary for defense, admitted that it was “purposefully vague” in order to give the executive branch full power to “wage wide war” against ISIS and affiliated branches of extremism, like Boko Haram (Ratner, MSNBC).

This kind of direct war effort is not likely to receive much support from the Democrats, and Obama seems to have waited until a Republican majority held Congress before he even tried to propose such a broad AUMF. The president is hopeful that the more internationally aggressive views of the modern Republican Party will help sway Congress in favor of the proposition.

Despite this kind of planning, however, some of the leading Republican senators hoping to compete in the 2016 election are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the AUMF.

Marco Rubio (R-FL) is in definite favor of approving an all-out, direct, and aggressive war against ISIS until it is fully defeated and/or exterminated; even if it means granting the president extremely broad and diverse powers. Rand Paul, while hoping to fight and end the Islamic State, is not so sure that giving the president such powers is a good idea.

Other analysts and spectators are not nearly as sure as Rubio is about waging war in the Middle East.

Michael Ratner, attorney for WikiLeaks, pointed out the difficulties of approving a broad and vague AUMF in an article for MSNBC:

“According to intelligence sources, ISIS is currently operating in Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and the Philippines . . . expanding the authorization of military intervention to include associated forces without geographical limits [would make] the scale of warfare . . . too unchecked to be allowable.”

WATCH: Rand Paul Questions Sec. Kerry at SFRC on Obama Administration’s AUMF

In a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing regarding the ISIS AUMF on March 11th, Paul stated that:

“If [the AUMF of] 2001 can be applied to Boko Haram, I’m very concerned about voting for this as it is worded, because, if we’re going to go to war in Libya, I want to vote for war in Libya. If we’re going to war in Nigeria, I want to vote for war in Nigeria.”

“I have to deal with words that 15 years from now I have to explain to my kids and their friends and their kids’ kids that something I voted for in 2015 still has us at war at 2030 in 30 different countries.”

It’s a dangerous place to have broad legalization which can be misinterpreted or changed in meaning over time. That’s a place in government and law which Paul is very reluctant to explore.

There is no debate that ISIS and its horrible crimes must be stopped—but the question now is whether the United States should be the nation leading the full scale war against ISIS and its counterparts.

And with the kind of vague language that Obama is using in the ISIS AUMF to Congress, the answer will hopefully be a “No.”

Do you agree or disagree with how the Obama administration is handling ISIS? Should we give the executive branch the power to do what is necessary to defeat an enemy, or follow the express rules of conduct found in the Constitution? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter and Facebook.

Written by K. Montgomery; Updated by Staff

(Photo courtesy of Dawn Endico, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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