Here’s an important question that’s not receiving too much attention: should President Obama stand before Congress — the House and Senate — and make the case to declare war against ISIS, actually, against islamo-fascism?
I understand Obama must give a speech to take the case to the people, to our representatives. But this is a major decision that will have long-term strategic ramifications for the foreign policy and national security of the United States. He can’t just make another unilateral decision — like Libya — in expending US military resources and support.
As the Washington Times reports, “The White House on Monday refused to say whether President Obama will ask Congress to authorize an expanded U.S. campaign to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, as the president prepared to meet with congressional leaders and tell Americans about his strategy. As lawmakers increasingly call for a vote on authorizing a broader air war against the Sunni militants, White House aides ducked the question repeatedly Monday while saying Mr. Obama believes he has the authority necessary to expand military force and forge a coalition with Europe and the Middle East.”
And therein lies the issue — Obama doesn’t have the authority to expand military force — he can forge any coalition he desires. The War Powers Act gives the president the ability to prosecute a military action for a specified period of time. Within 30 days of that period ending, the president must go before Congress for approval of the continuation of — lets be clear: hostilities – that’s what it’s called when you’re dropping a bomb on someone, i.e. war. Specifically the 1973 War Powers Resolution requires the president to report to Congress when he uses military force; Congress must then authorize such action within 60 days or the president must stop. The president can invoke a 30-day extension only once.
What I don’t want to see happen is an ambiguous escalation of combat activity, resources, and personnel in an incremental fashion without a clearly defined strategic and operational campaign plan. Without it you won’t be able to achieve tactical success — what we in the military call “nesting of objectives” — a critical concept promoting the interconnection of goals and objectives from the three levels of warfare: strategic, operational, and tactical. And again, I cannot fathom why anyone would state it will take three years to “degrade and destroy” ISIS.
As the Washington Times reports, “the administration is describing the president’s plans, to be outlined by Mr. Obama in a speech Wednesday in Washington, as a counterterrorism operation against the Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIL and ISIS. “The president is concerned about the threat of terrorism, and that is why the other counter-terrorism operations that this administration has carried out are a relevant reference point,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.”
So here we have more confusion in language from the White House. Counter-terrorism operations are done specifically by certain U.S. forces. President Obama continues to tell us there will be “no U.S. boots on the ground.” Well, how does the United States execute counter-terrorism operations without counter-terrorism operators? If the kids who never got picked to play who are now running the White House believe a drone or intermittent air strikes from 15,000 feet can do counter-terrorism operation,s then folks, we are in BIG trouble.
Sure, you can eliminate a singular entity such as Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, or the leader of Al Shabab but that has nothing to do with “degrade and destroy” a terrorist army like ISIS – let alone the Islamo-fascist ideology.
Here is an historic example. When we were successful in shooting down Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, that did not end World War II in the Pacific theater of operations. Yes, it eliminated a very key leader, but it had little effect on the Japanese ground forces on the key islands necessary to take in order to collapse the Imperial Japanese empire. Killing Yamamoto was a tactical operation against an operational target that had no strategic impact — other than to eliminate a key naval leader.
And this Obama administration seems to not comprehend that relationship between the respective levels of warfare. Obama approving drone strikes and 130 air strikes over a month are not strategic imperatives — which is what he needs to present this evening, in a coherent fashion, and then present to Congress for a vote. And if it is laid out in a confident and coherent manner, he will get support.
As the Washington Times says, ‘the call in Congress for Mr. Obama to spell out a plan for defeating the Islamic State has grown louder since the president said at a press conference on Aug. 28 that his administration has “no strategy” for fighting the militants in Syria, where they have beheaded two U.S. hostages in recent weeks. “If the president is prepared to engage Congress with a strategic plan to protect the U.S. and our allies from ISIL, I believe he will have significant congressional support,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican. Mr. McConnell said the threat “is real and it’s growing, and it is time for President Obama to exercise some leadership in launching a response.”
If we had a true American president and not an intransigent anti-war ideologue, he would sit with former key military leaders like Generals Keane, Petraeus, McChrystal and Mattis to assist in developing the strategy for the way ahead. That would garner him huge bipartisan support.
What do I expect tomorrow? Sadly, more confusion. But hey, if Obama wants to have a chat, more than happy to do so, this is about my country and destroying our enemy.