Thursday, February 12, 2015

I Stand Corrected?

Years ago, I complained that Democrats who had voted to declare war on Iraq changed their mind and turned against the war, wanting to end it (that is, lose the war). I said declarations of war don't have expiration dates. We declare them, and then fight to win. Well, it seems I got my wish. Democrats took my complaint to heart.

Sadly, like a Chinese curse, I should be careful what I wished for.

Rather than view war as something you try to win, President Obama has requested a declaration of war (authorization to use military force--AUMF--is actually our watered-down version of a declaration of war) against ISIL that will expire in three years:

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill received a draft AUMF, a resolution that would formally authorize the already six-month-old U.S. military effort against the militant group.

The joint resolution would limit the President's authority to wage a military campaign against ISIS to three years and does not authorize "enduring offensive ground combat operations," according to text of the resolution.

Forgive me for using technical terms, but this is "stupid."

It basically codifies the "three-year rule" that says American appetite for war traditionally starts to dangerously erode after three years.

So it establishes that coveted Democratic objective of an "exit strategy." Which is no exit if our enemies keep fighting (see Iraq after 2011 and Libya too, after that time- and scope-limited action) and which is certainly no strategy, as I noted for another escalation:

Exit strategies are for losers. Focus on victory. I fear that our president won't pass the gut check he needs to make.

I cringe when I note that CNN files this story under "politics" rather than foreign relations.

War is focused violence to achieve an objective. Otherwise it is just pointless killing and dying.

Is this what we've come to (again?)? Our troops are being ordered to kill and die just because it seems like the public wants us to do "something" about ISIL. and that when that urge wanes we will just let our war fade away, too?

Are our troops (and the people of Iraq and Syria, for that matter) just props in a leadership pageant to get our president through the rest of his term without visibly losing this fight?

And you wonder why I am convinced that our president has never felt he is a war president despite all the fighting going on around him?

We'll see if Congress codifies stupidity--and war as an extension of politics.

UPDATE: Professor Ackerman confuses what is written with what is reality:

PRESIDENT OBAMA is going before Congress to request authorization for the limited use of military force in a battle of up to three years against the Islamic State. On the surface, this looks like a welcome recognition of Congress’s ultimate authority in matters of war and peace. But unless the resolution put forward by the White House is amended, it will have the opposite effect. Congressional support will amount to the ringing endorsement of unlimited presidential war making.

I'm going to use that technical term again. This is "stupid."

In what alternate world does the wording of an authorization to use military force limit what a future Congress will do?

Or am I mistaken in remembering that after the AUMF to defeat Iraq was passed that 5 years later Congress attempted to force the Bush administration to end the war in Iraq (that is, lose it), just as the surge was beginning to show an effect?

Indeed, our enemies count on us getting tired of fighting. If President Obama's end state as written into that proposed AUMF is that we will "crush ISIL, seeing them driven before us, and hearing the lamentations of their women," does anybody really think a future president or Congress--let alone our enemies--would say, "Well, that's the way it is going to be. They put it in the resolution, so whatareyagonnado?"

Once again, seeming too committed to waging war and winning is not the problem we have right now.