President Barack Obama, who won the Democratic primaries and general election in 2008 thanks in large part to his opposition to the 2003 Iraq War, has now told Congress he can launch another war on Iraq without Congress’ approval. Instead, Congress would simply be briefed on what was happening, not asked for authority. Those who were hoping for change from the imperial presidency are out of luck.
The culprit for the latest round of possible unregulated aggression appears to be the Authorization For Use Of Military Force Against Terrorists of 2001. Which, according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi justifies pretty much any action Obama may deem necessary.
Talk about a blank check.
While the White House statement emphasized Obama would continue to consult with Congress, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the President “basically just briefed us on the situation in Iraq and indicated he didn’t feel he had any need for authority from us for the steps that he might take.”
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California agreed with McConnell’s assessment, adding she believed congressional authorization for military force in Iraq back in 2001 and 2003 still applied.
Still applies? In 2014 after we pulled all the troops out? So, in other words, Obama did not end the Iraq War because technically it never ended and we can go back in any time?
Not that the bloodthirsty Republicans and venal Democrats in Congress would not authorize another Iraq adventure, but they should at least be forced to publicly do so with a vote, not rely on a decade old post-9/11 bill passed while hyperventilating.
There has never been a better time to roll back the imperial presidency after decades of gruesome and costly failures, but it appears Obama is doubling down rather than rolling back executive authority and in the process setting up even more perilous precedents for his successor.