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Obama Says He Will Play Through Congress On New Middle East War

Senator Rand Paul, President Obama, Senator Ted Cruz

Looking more like a golfer reading a teleprompter than a wartime president, last night President Barack Obama announced he was taking America back to war in the Middle East without a new congressional authorization for the use of military force (AUMF), or indeed any public input at all.

Yesterday, we told you that President Obama’s speech would not renounce the failed Middle East policy he laid out at the beginning of his presidency and that his remarks would be aimed at solving his political problem going into the 2014 midterm elections, not the military, political and cultural problem presented by ISIS (ISIL) and the rise of Islamic State. (See yesterday's article through this link.)

We were right about that, and indeed Obama doubled down on the myth that Islam is “a religion of peace” by claiming that “ISIL is not ‘Islamic’” leading Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to dub the speech “”fundamentally unserious.” 

After saying that the United States would soon begin operations in Syrian airspace, the President then dropped this interesting line:

“I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL, but I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together.  So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.”

The problem for Obama is that is plainly not the truth.

In the summer of 2013 the House passed an amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill preventing the President from spending appropriated funds on American military "involvement" in Syria without first coming to Congress for their Constitutional approval – and it passed unanimously we might add.

The amendment, which you can read here, says simply that, “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for United States military involvement in Syria without express authorization of Congress.”

So it appears the House has a policy on U.S. military involvement in Syria that plainly prohibits Obama from making good on his statement “That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq.”

Perhaps this is why our friend Chad Pergram reported that Tuesday Obama quietly called House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers and asked him to delay the Continuing Resolution to fund the government through December that was set for a vote this week.

Pergram also reported that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said “Given the severity, the House will postpone voting on the CR,” so it looks like Congress may very well give Obama the blank check he publicly claims he has, but has privately acknowledged he lacks.

Senator Rand Paul’s take on Obama’s speech was “He should have come before a joint session of Congress, laid out his plan—as he did tonight—and then called for an up or down vote on whether or not to authorize to go to war,” Paul added. “I think the President would be more powerful [and] the country would have been more united.”

The "defense gap" that Republicans held over Democrats for years has reemerged as significant factor in the fast approaching 2014 elections and no doubt Obama’s speech will give him a little bump in his abysmal poll numbers on “leadership,” but in making a speech claiming he has the sole authority to take the United States into a new Middle East war Obama is not really leading, he is – as he almost always does – dictating.

In last night’s speech Obama really did not clarify the points he made in a speech in May at the U.S. Military Academy. Back then Obama called for a $5 billion counterterrorism fund, but the proposal drew resistance on Capitol Hill as the administration was unable to spell out how the money would be spent.

And spelling out “how the money will be spent” is exactly what the Framers of the Constitution had in mind when they made the President the Commander-in-Chief, but vested the power to declare war and the power of the purse in the hands of Congress.

This not a blindly partisan view of the Constitution. Even liberal Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13) said after Obama's speech, “The Constitution requires Congress to vote on the use of military force. This is not about this President. This is about any President and any Congress,”

We think that ISIS and the rise of the Islamic State are much more serious threats than Obama and the Washington foreign policy and national security establishments let on – which is exactly why Congress must not simply give Obama a blank check in a briefly and lightly debated Continuing Resolution. The threat from this latest iteration of radical Islam is much too serious and demands the full airing that the Framers built into the Constitution and that Senator Rand Paul and others have demanded.

Sign our petition urging Congress not to give Obama's war request a "blank check" in a Continuing Resolution and instead debate it seriously and constitutionally.

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Politics (as usual)

It seems they are using ISIS as a convenient excuse to implement a political maneuver. That is what you are saying? No?