Here's Secretary of State John Kerry just last week, explaining to CBS News that war isn't what we're doing vis a vis the Islamic State:
"We're engaged in a major counterterrorism operation, and it's going to be a long-term counterterrorism operation. I think war is the wrong terminology and analogy but the fact is that we are engaged in a very significant global effort to curb terrorist activity."
But that statement is, to borrow a term of art from the Age of Nixon, "inoperative." Now Kerry cops:
"In terms of al Qaeda, which we have used the word 'war' with, yeah…we are at war with al Qaeda and it's affiliates. And in the same context if you want to use it, yes, we are at war with ISIL in that sense," Kerry said. "But I think it's waste of time to focus on that. Frankly, lets consider what we have to do to degrade and defeat ISIL."
More here (emphases added)
Did you see what he did there? By claiming ISIS is an al Qaeda affiliate, Kerry and the Obama administration is weasel-wording its way around not going to Congress for a new authorization to use military force (AUMF) or outright declaration of war. The White House is claiming that any action against ISIS is justified under the 2001 AUMF that sanctioned any actions against those responsbile for the 9/11 attacks (meaning al Qaeda). But ISIS and al Qaeda are at war with each other, so that's a tough sell out of the box. It's like claiming that, I don't know, despite being marketplace rivals, Puma and Adidas are affiliates because the Dassler brothers started the competing firms.
Just to be safe, of course, the Obama admin is also arguing that the 2002 AUMF, which sanctioned military force to oust Saddam Hussein, also provides grounds for bombing Iraq and Syria, because, come on, it's still the Middle East or something….
If shakey constitutional authorization to re-enter a battleground in which we just spent a decade or so to inconclusive results (at best) isn't enough to give pause, there's this too: It appears that "moderate" Syrian rebels and ISIS, who had been warring, have signed a truce until the Assad regime is defeated.
The New York Times is right to chide Congress for its "cowardice" in not asserting its constitutional role in this. Congress needs to find a spine quickly and do its fricking job, regardless of midterms. Stand up or down for war on the record. And of course Barack Obama—that whipsmart, thoughtful adjunct lecturer in constitutional law—is also at fault here. Regardless of where you stand on the specifics of actions against ISIS, this latest display of contempt for constitutional practices is surely one of the reasons why approval ratings for all involved are in the toilet.
Watch "3 Reasons to NOT Fight ISIS":