President Barack Obama has asked Congress for authorization to declare war on Islamic State with a limit of three years but no limit on geographical boundaries.
It took him more than four months since the Islamic State executed American hostage James Foley to ask for an official declaration of war.
If Congress approves the request, it will be the first time the United States goes to war against an organization and not a country.
The proposed authorization for military force against the Islamic State would:
Target the Islamic State and associated persons or forces, defined as those fighting with the Islamic State “in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners;”
Provide no geographic limits on the battle;
Limit ground troops by banning “enduring offensive ground combat operations;” and
Expire after three years unless renewed by Congress.
The authorization also would do away with the Congressional approval from 2002 for military force in Iraq. The president said in his letter to Congress that he hopes to be able to repeal the same authorization on which he has been relying for military operations force against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
President Obama composed his letter with explanations, each one beginning with “whereas,” to define the ISIS as an enemy threat to the United States.
He declared that the Islamic State, which he referred to as ISIL for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant , “poses a grave threat to the people and territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria, regional stability, and the national security interests of the United States and its allies and partners.”
He pointed out that the Islamic State, more commonly known as ISIS, “holds significant territory in Iraq and Syria and has stated its intention to seize more territory and demonstrated the capability to do so” and that its leaders have stated intentions to attack the United States.
His fourth “whereas” appeared to be designed to further his premise that ISIS is not a part of Islam. He stated:
Whereas ISIL has committed despicable acts of violence and mass executions against Muslims, regardless of sect, who do not subscribe to ISIL’s depraved, violent, and oppressive ideology;
Whereas ISIL has threatened genocide and committed vicious acts of violence against religious and ethnic minority groups, including Iraqi Christian, Yezidi, and Turkmen populations;
President Obama seems to be afraid that Muslim countries will think that he wants to wage war against radical Islam, which would get him in a lot of trouble in certain Middle East countries that do not behead people willy-nilly but also do not tolerate anyone who does not obey Islamic law.
His carefully crafted letter, having stated that the ISIS is supposedly anti-Muslim, focused on the Islamic State’s “horrific acts of violence” that included “the deaths of [four] innocent United States citizens.”
Obama then brought the international community under the umbrella of a global alliance and noted the announcement last September at a NATO Summit “that ISIL poses a serious threat and should be countered by a broad international coalition.”
Congress is not totally happy with the idea, and Obama tried to make it easier to obtain authorization by writing:
The authority granted in subsection (a) does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.
The obvious problem with the language is the word “enduring,” something Congressmen will have to thrash out in discussions on the request for war on ISIS.
President Obama put the ball in Congress’ court and implied it is will bear the price if it does not declare war on ISIS.
If left unchecked, ISIL will pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland.