Obama Administration

Obama 'Welcomes Debate on Terror' To Avoid Debate on Terror

One year after promising dialogue, his administration is silent.


A year ago Friday, President Obama took a break from waging perpetual war to warn Americans that "perpetual war … will prove self-defeating, and alter our country in troubling ways."

The post-9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUFM) "is now nearly 12 years old," Obama proclaimed, and "this war, like all wars, must end. … That's what our democracy demands."

He, for one, welcomed this debate: "I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF's mandate."

Actually, the Obama administration hopes to keep "welcoming the debate" until it goes away. Wednesday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the AUMF made that clear — if just about nothing else.

As the U.S. terror war spreads throughout Africa and beyond, plenty of questions remain. Among them:

Does the Obama administration support repealing the AUMF?

"We did not come here this morning equipped to answer that question," admitted Pentagon General Counsel Stephen Preston. Nor did the administration's two witnesses come prepared to answer other fundamental questions, like:

If it isn't repealed, how should the AUMF be "refined"?

That's not clear either, as this exchange between Preston and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., revealed:

Johnson: Is [the president] going to provide a proposal we can review… or are we supposed to come up with it? … What's the process going to be?

Preston: I think, as he said in May of last year, that he envisions the administration's engaging with Congress, with this and other —

Johnson: That was a year ago.

Preston: I understand that.

Before repealing or "refining," it would be helpful to know how Obama interprets the post-9/11 AUMF. As Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., put it:

"What [do] you feel the AUMF gave you that you didn't have otherwise constitutionally?"

Committee members pursued at least a dozen variations on that theme without getting a straight answer. But Preston's partner, State Department legal adviser Mary McLeod, eventually folded under questioning from Sen. Bob Corker., R-Tenn.

Corker: "Yes or no, if the 2001 AUMF was undone, can the president carry out the activities that he's carrying out right now?"

McLeod: "Yes, I believe he could, Senator Corker."

"So we really, as a Congress, don't need to be involved in this subject at all," Corker spat.

Maybe not. Further inquiries tortured out a view of presidential war power nearly as broad — if not nearly as forthrightly expressed — as that held by the Bush-Cheney team.

McLeod testified that Obama has unilateral authority to attack Syria even without an imminent threat to the United States. And when Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., asked her whether the administration thought it needed any congressional authorization to wage war on countries harboring terrorists, McLeod issued a non-denial denial: "I can't give you a definitive answer."

"I would love a clear 'no' to that question," Murphy complained.

Finally, who are we at war with, anyway?

Clarity on that question would have been welcome as well; you might even say that "our democracy demands" an answer. But when Corker ran through a list of jihadist groups, he couldn't get one. In the administration's view, it's too dangerous to let the American public — and perhaps Congress as a whole — now who the enemy is.

"Can you tell me those things in a classified setting?" Corker asked.

Preston: "that would have to take place in a classified setting." Observant readers will notice that Preston's answer fell somewhat short of "yes."

The Obama administration hopes to dodge the issue of perpetual war with pious blather and obfuscation. But members on both sides of the aisle are growing increasingly sick of those tactics. Sometimes when you "welcome the debate," you end up having to go through with it anyway.

This column originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.

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  1. They welcome debate, meaning pointless discussions without action, blame, or consequences of any kind. More blather than debate, really.

    1. As I recall, Obama welcoming debate, welcomed debate, but would not accept any discussion from anyone who seriously disagreed with him.

      1. He means debate about grammar. Did he use the right word to state his position? What about his punctuation?

      2. yes, he keeps using that word debate. I do not think it means what he thinks it means.

        “Be reasonable, do it my way” is not exactly a mark of leadership.

      3. You don’t get a debate from Obama without giving him a hearty “harumph.”

      4. It would be hard to disagree with him as he would not define what it was he believed to be true.

    2. Obama welcomed Debate into the White House, then he beat it to death with his copy of the Living Constitution.

      1. I thought he killed that pesky Constitution.

    3. The only debate Obama is interested in is whether he is the awesomest President of all time, or just on the short list of the three or four awesomest Presidents.

      1. Instead of “awesome,” might I suggest an alternative word, one that used to mean the same thing as awesome–and even incorporates the same root word–but now means something else?

      2. R C Dean

        The United States of America has NEVER had any “awesome” Presidents. Most of our Presidents have been men of average intelligence. If any of them were ever awesome it was because they had awesome advisors, whose names are known and unknown. Substitute popular for awesome. For example, a great many people have formed a cult around Reagan, a man of average intellect, who was a far better actor in the White House than he ever was in Hollywood. Perhaps our most intelligent President (and I mean that in every sense of the word) was John Quincy Adams.

        1. With all due respect OTRTM, that’s fucking stupid.

          GW was awesome. Flawed, but still awesome.

          1. Washington gets “awesome” for several things, including his Cincinnatus moment, his Farewell Address, and for killing ten thousand British cyborgs with his bare hands.

            1. Really? With his bare hands?

              I’m not buying that.

              1. Well, sure, he was wearing gloves. Come on, man, you have to allow for artistic license.

          2. That’s YOUR opinion. You believe he is awesome, so therefore (in your opinion) it is true. Read my comment again and you will see that this is what I am talking about – PEOPLE’S OPINIONS AND LIKES AND DISLIKES. If you want to use the word “awesome” you would come closer to its true meaning if you took a look at Webster, Clay, and Calhoun in American History. But that is MY OPINION. Got my meaning?

            1. Not really I don’t speak crazy, and I’m well aware of the definition of “awesome” and in fact, frequently use it that way, i.e. “inspiring awe”.

              That said, what the fuck is wrong with you?

              1. Beef Brisket,

                Hi Asshole. How are you today? What the fuck is wrong with me is that there are entirely too many functional semi-literate fucking morons in the world such as yourself. You need to commit suicide so I can mark your file DSAF – Did Society A Favor.

                Het shit head, I was not debating the definition of the word “awesome”.

                Have a nice day shit for brains.

                1. You couldn’t even try to squeeze an ass chunk in there? Not even one measly ass chunk. Son, I am disappoint.

        2. I would add Thomas Jefferson to the list of awesome Presidents, as well as Coolidge.

          Ditto on GW, though. The man could have established himself as a monarch and instead he walked away.

          1. Fuck GW and all those personalities like him.

      3. John Kennedy was the most awesome POTUS because he was so young, and his wife was so glamorous. And he was killed by a Right-wing conspiracy. And he was MY president. Do you remember where you were when he was shot? I do, man. I was organizing a free speech rally on the campus at Berkeley. Me and Sandra cried for two hours straight. We then took the bus down to Oakland and bought some marihuana from some Negroes. My life changed from that day on, man.

        1. Hey EDG Is that the day you became a fucking hippie you moron?

        2. *snaps fingers vigorously in agreement*

  2. Comments are still broken?

    1. No just the commentators.

  3. You may have a disinterest in war, but it may have an interest in you.

    Also don’t forget, you may proclaim a desire for peace to the highest heavens, but your actions speak louder than your proclamations.

  4. Let me be clear – we welcome debate, and will let other people drone on (heheheheh…”drone” on…I crack myself up) endlessly about what’s ‘needed’ and ‘not needed’ to defend this country. There are those who believe that the terrorist threat has ended.

    I am here to ensure that you understand that the threat not only has not ended, but is scarier and more terrible than ever.

    Therefore, I’ll be issuing Executive Orders doubling down on my powers to protect this country. For the children.

    Thank you, and God bless America.

  5. FYI: Scratching your balls will win you a Nobel Peace Prize.

  6. He’s trying to create ‘legacy markers’ (as the politicos call it, I guess).

    What’s on his agenda this week:

    Ending the war in Afghanistan.

    Curbing greenhouse emissions, in hopes that it will jog the world’s largest GH emitter (China) into action. China, I’m repeatedly told by fawning news reports, takes global climate change “seriously”.

    Net Neutrality.

    1. Florida’s Political Climate Change
      4 May 27, 2014 8:03 AM EDT
      By The Editors

      Adapting to climate change is such a daunting task that it can be hard to know where, or how, to begin. Here’s one answer: in southeastern Florida, with yellow foam earplugs.

      The plugs are needed to keep out the din of the South Florida Water Management District’s pumping station, with its 400-horsepower pumps submerged in the Miami River. They are capable of changing the direction of the river, ensuring that it always runs toward the ocean, as it’s supposed to, draining storm water. Gravity used to do the job, but with sea level rising — it’s up at least 8 inches (20 centimeters) from what it was a century ago — gravity doesn’t always do the trick.

      Florida’s state and national politicians, including Governor Rick Scott and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, are free to question whether climate change exists. Local officials don’t have that luxury. When it floods, people call city hall.


      It’s real, bitches!

      1. This evidence conclusively establishes that man causes climate change!

      2. it’s up at least 8 inches (20 centimeters) from what it was a century ago

        Causation is a bitch to prove for you AGW fanatics.

        1. True, is it due to the sea level rising or the land sinking under the weight of construction, as it has in Bangkok (which only had an elevation of about 5 feet above ASL to begin with, if I recall).

          1. Florida is practically a giant sandbar. But that doesn’t fit with the program so we’ll just ignore that detail.

            1. A water soluble sandbar. Limestone.

        2. The sea level has never changed before. Ever. So human activity must be the cause.

          1. Science can’t even agree (CONSENSUS!) on how much. The bloomberg article above states definitively: AT LEAST 8″!

            According to scientists, maybe between 4 to 8″

      3. yellow foam earplugs

        The denier’s little helper!

        1. I thought climate was the denier’s little helper.

          1. Maybe for you, but it’s not drowning out the shrieks of it’s zealots near fast enough for me.

      4. Of course this has nothing to do with the sinking of the peninsula due to depletion of the aquifers and other natural forces.



        1. You have a point. Take a sandbar and pump out billions of gallons fresh (debatable) water from under ground and what happens?

          Put the Mythbusters on it right away.

          As for 8 inches? Yeah… That’s what they all say.

      5. It’s real, bitches!

        And apparently, it can be defeated by a adding few 400hp water pumps every hundred years or so.

      6. Amazing! It hasn’t risen 8″ here. And, it hasn’t anywhere else I know. Although a lot of places are sinking, which rises the sea level in those places. But, that isn’t climate change.

      7. Yes, it must be the rising ocean. No landmass could sink, right?


        You’ll note that I cited one of those infamous right wing rags bought and paid for by the Kochtopus.

    2. china is taking AGW seriously. They are seriously trying to capitalize on our stupidity about it.

  7. Let’s see now. The United States started out with our Imperial Wars back in 1898 so we could be more like Europe and grab some real estate somewhere from someone so we could have a colony and instruct “The Natives” on how to be more civilized, and American. In this case it was taking The Philippines away from Spain so we could improve the lot of our “little brown brothers.”

    The 1898 venture into imperialism ensured that the United States would have a healthy future in creating wars to provide greater profit for corporations. We then continued our colonial quest with The Banana Wars in Central America to protect the interests of The United Fruit Company, with adventures in The Caribbean so we could make Cuba safe for Mafia Night Clubs and Casinos.

    Then came World War Two where we had to fight the Japanese who were also doing the empire thing along with us and the British (everywhere), The French (Algeria and IndoChina), The Dutch (Indonesia), and The Belgian Congo. The aftermath of this were the Rice Wars in Korea and Vietnam, followed by the Oil Wars in Iraq, and now the Opium Wars (under the guise of Terror Wars) in Afghanistan.

    Save the debates until later until the corporations who really run the country decide what our next wars are going to be. In the meantime read “War Is A Racket” by Smedley Butler so you can brush up on the reality of wars in general. What Butler said in the 1930s holds true for today.

    1. Save the debates until later until the corporations who really run the country decide what our next wars are going to be.

      How does that happen?

      1. Not giving the government the power to control the corporations that control it.

      2. Actually, I second the call to read Butler’s “War is a Racket”. It’s an excellent book.

    2. Not a bad analysis. Right up until you throw out this non-sequiter:

      Save the debates until later until the corporations who really run the country decide what our next wars are going to be.

      Please show the causal link between corporations, which don’t have armies or the legal authority to declare war, and the past (and future) decision to go to war.

      1. Of course corporations do not run the USA but they do influence corruptible officials.

        See Cheney and the Energy Task Force where the US/British oil companies insisted that they needed Iraq’s oil – for one example.

        1. I actually agree with you on this one, Butt Face.

        2. You are so close, PB. You only need to take one more step, and you can realize the solution.

          The sad thing is, you know what the next step is, yet you continually refuse to take it.

        3. Or the healthcare reform bill and the insurance industry?

        4. I’m going to toss something your way and you can think about it.

          Almost NO corporations do better with war. Armament industry, yes. Coca-cola, no. Walmart, no. Apple, no.

          Corporations do better when things are stable. That is the ideal corporate climate. They don’t like upheavals, such as wars. They do like government spending money, which is why they give heavily to the Dems. But, they much prefer it spent at home.

      2. I get your point, but still, “Remember the Maine!

      3. Get real. Corporations and Special Interest Groups BUY and CONTROL most politicians who do what the corporations want.

        1. So the solution is reduce the size and scope of Leviathan, right?

          1. Clowns like PB and Mandalay will never take that next logical step. They know that is the proper solution, but they don’t want to take that step because their actual agenda is socialism/communism/fascism. It’s cute how they are today opposed to war. But rest assured, these stooges would gladly advocate for war to further their socialist agenda.

            1. EDG REPPIN’ LBC,

              Fuck you! Every one is a “clown” who does not agree with your fucking opinions. There are a lot of people who oppose unnecessary wars. Why do they have to be communists and socialists and fascists? Tell me why you fucking moron? Fuck your agenda!

        2. Why would Apple, for example, want war? What in the world makes you think the average corporation likes war? They don’t. They like stability. Upheavals cause big winners, and big losers. Corporations hate the risk involved during upheavals. They much prefer peace, when governments spend all their money at home, where corporations can capitalize on it.

    3. War is first and foremost the friend and tool of the State. Cronies benefit as an accessory to such.

  8. We have always been at war with Terror.

  9. You did a good job translating this from the original Ciceroean Latin. However, I’m not sure I agree with the translation of mos maiorum as “Authorization for Use of Military Force” or C. Iulius as “President Obama”.

  10. More blather than debate, really.


    1. Hear that substance? Very substantial. Feel the mental energy of the contemplation.

  11. When it floods, people call city hall.

    Dear Stupid-

    Don’t build your house in a swamp.

    All the best,


    1. Dude, there were no floods until the world got wealthier and life got easier due to fossil fuels.

      1. It’s OK when nature kills people because they’re incapable of defending themselves against famine and pestilence. It’s not OK when people survive and thwart nature.

  12. Well, instead of congress complaining about the president authorizing force when he shouldn’t, maybe they take action and assert that it’s their power to declare war, and not the presidents (Libya, Syria threats, etc.).

  13. I forgot to mention the guaranteed outcome of these endless wars. It means that most of the taxpayers money will be spent on wars, and the infrastructure and manufacturing base of the U.S. will go to hell even more. Use your imagination to envision a far less democratic society then exists now combined with a lower standard of living, and a permanent under class.

    In other words, our campaign to save the world while reaping profit for corporations will ensure that the country is trashed. The end result will be national bankruptcy and chaos. All this without any sort of Biblical prophecy whatsoever, although the religious nuts will interpret it all that way.

    1. I agree with your sentiment, though I care less for democracy than I do for a government that actually respects individual rights, whatever that government may look like.

      1. WAHT?!!??!?!??!!!!

        Purple thumbs are the sign of all that is good and holy!

      2. cw

        If you want to live in a country where the people who live in it want good government with as little corruption as possible, try CANADA. Totally opposite from the U.S. where people mistrust government at any level. An unfortunate turn of events, precipitated by our national hast to cut free from Great Britain back in the 18th Century.

        1. If we become more like Canada, who will be the big super power that keeps us safe so we can splurge on social programs?

          Also, where will we go for healthcare when the wait times become unacceptable?

          1. Fuck all super powers.

          2. Mexico. That is where most of my Canadian friends go now when they can’t wait any longer up here.

    2. and manufacturing base of the U.S. will go to hell even more

      Except Boeing, Raytheon, L3, Sikorsky, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, United Technologies, Northrop Grumman, etc.

      1. I would think that a state of perpetual war would be good for the manufacturing base. Somebody’s got to build all those guns and tanks, right?

        1. MULTIPLIER!!!!!111!

    3. “General Smedley Butler’s frank book shows how American war efforts were animated by big-business interests. This extraordinary argument against war by an unexpected proponent is relevant now more than ever.”

      Gee, road-guy look! A conspiracy!
      Tell us about Elvis’ alien love child on the grassy knoll.

      1. At the time Butler was writing, they were. Or do you think the defense of Dole’s pineapple plantations was a noble and fitting cause to spill American blood?

        1. Heroic Mulatto|5.27.14 @ 1:17PM|#
          “At the time Butler was writing, they were.”…

          First, most ALL wars are fought for economic reasons, except for the few that are truly driven by, oh, religions. It approaches the claims that GREED caused the crash! Yes, and gravity causes things to fall.
          And at the time of Manifest Destiny, the US was certainly guilty of initiating the process. But to insinuate that WWII was in any way similar is dishonest in the extreme. And “rice wars”? “Opium wars”?

          1. Sevo,

            Who said WW II WAS “similar”. The point I made was that Japan was also creating an empire in the Asia-Pacific reason at the same time that other nations had colonies there. What initiated WW II in that area was the U.S. objection (and rightly so) to Japanese atrocities in China – specifically the “Rape of Nanking”. By the way, my CITE for that is “The Rape of Nanking” by the late Chinese-American author Iris Chang. Of course as of late, Japan is producing writers such as Eri Hotta who is justifying what Japan did in WW II. Of course WW II HAD TO BE FOUGHT against Japanese and Nazi Imperialism.

            1. Sorry about the typo. Please change reason to region.

      2. And your main point is?

    4. In other words, our campaign to save the world while reaping profit for corporations will ensure that the country is trashed. The end result will be national bankruptcy and chaos. All this without any sort of Biblical prophecy whatsoever, although the religious nuts will interpret it all that way.

      I happen to be inclined towards religious nuttiness from time to time and I gotta wonder Nostradamus… do all the ‘E’s on your ‘The end is near!’ sign face the same way?

      1. They do, but one of them is the currency symbol for the Euro.

    5. You are so close, OTRTM. You only need to take one more step, and you can realize the solution.

      The sad thing is, you know what the next step is, yet you’ll refuse to take it.

  14. For those of you who have been around a while, this was Nixon’s strategy.
    Nixon was always claiming he could ‘take the easy way’, but stood fast and ‘took the bull by the horns’ or some such bullshit when he was EXACTLY taking the easy way.
    That lying bastard Obo always ‘welcomes the debate’ when in fact he attempts to dictate the terms.
    The difference is obvious; Nixon got his feet held to the fire by the press, while the press simply licks the ground on which Obo walks.

    1. To be fair, Obama also frequently says we cannot live beyond our means and need to tighten our belts while making wise investments in the future. Usually said immediately before announcing a new spending program.

      You can’t really fault him if it continues to work. Being for and against things that people really care about being for and against is sound strategy.

      It is like they coined the term “splunge” for this administration.

  15. This administration has regularly resorted to this kind of thing. Take a controversial issue and promise to ‘study’ or ‘debate’ it, and do nothing, with the hopes that you can have your cake and eat it too. They’ve done this with surveillance, with clemency for drug offenders, etc., this way the base can feel like Obama is on their side but in doing nothing he catches no real flak.

    1. I take much the same tactic with my kids.

      “Daddy, can we go to Chuck E Cheese?”

      “Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you.”

      1. My father would say ‘maybe.’

        1. My father used to say, “We’ll see…”

      2. Well, the President is the “Father of the Nation.”

        1. You know who else was a “Fahzer of Ze Nashun”?

      3. “I’m busy at the moment. If you can be good until I’m done, then… we’ll see.”

        1. Yes, I like to use that one too

    2. Yes, but that’s only because of obstinate Republicans.

      Seriously, read the speech he gave at a fundraiser over the weekend. It was nauseating.

  16. In the administration’s view, it’s too dangerous to let the American public ? and perhaps Congress as a whole ? now who the enemy is.

    That’s because as far as the administration is concerned, the American public is the enemy.

  17. The Obama administration hopes to dodge the issue of perpetual war with pious blather and obfuscation.

    Well, it works with the dozens of millions of dolts who still like him personally and politically.

  18. “Finally, who are we at war with, anyway?”

    Easy — we’re at war with Eurasia. No, wait, Eastasia. No, wait…

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