Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Lolita C. Baldor / Associated Press & Dave Ross / CBS Radio Network – 2014-09-09 01:21:58
Congress Mulls ISIS War Authorization, Obama Sees No Need
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(September 8, 2014) — A pair of competing bills have been offered in the House and Senate today which seek to authorize the new US war against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. The bills were introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson (D – FL) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R – VA), respectively.
The Nelson bill limits the war’s duration to three years, and also rules out any use of ground troops. The Wolf bill does not forbid any use of ground troops, nor does it have a time limit attached.
Obama insisted on Sunday that he doesn’t believe he needs a Congressional authorization for the war, and already has the “authorization that I need to protect the American people.” The White House is, however, expressing hope they can get some sort of “buy in” from Congress for the war, so long as it doesn’t asset any actual authority or limit the war’s escalation in any way.
President Obama is planning a Wednesday address to lay out more of the details of his planned escalation of the war, and is invited Congressional leaders to meet with him on Tuesday to get a preview.
The White House is also pushing Congress to agree to their previous demands to create a $5 billion “fund” that would train and equip “international partners” in the war, along with providing aid to Syria’s neighbors to cope with the growing refugee crisis. This is, of course, above and beyond the costs of the war itself.
Hagel: US Needs to Weigh Consequences
Of Escalating War on ISIS
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(September 8, 2014) — Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel seemed to counsel caution on the continued escalation of the US war against ISIS, something that is in short supply as most officials are pushing for escalation both in Iraq and into neighboring Syria.
“Once you start an airstrike, or once you start any military action, it doesn’t end there,” warned Hagel, who said the US has to weigh the consequences of any escalations they commit to in the war. [See story below.]
At the same time he tried to offer himself up as a voice of comparative sanity in the push for ever-escalating the open-ended war, Hagel also sought to sideline war opponents, insisting that inaction wasn’t an option, meaning the only question up for debate was how big of a war the US was launching, and how soon.
That’s a noteworthy omission in the list of options, particularly since the administration has admitted to not having any actual strategy that they believe will lead to an accomplishment of their war goals.
At the very least Hagel seems to be a voice against the most precipitous escalation of the disastrous war, but at the end of the day, officials still seem to believe that doing “something,” even if it’s a profoundly bad idea, is the only option.
Hagel: US Must Weigh Results of Broader Iraq Fight
Lolita C. Baldor / Associated Press
ANKARA, Turkey (September 8, 2014) — As the US considers how to expand operations against the Islamic State militants in Iraq, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday that President Barack Obama needs to weigh all the consequences of what could be a lengthy campaign, and what could go wrong.
Speaking to reporters in Turkey Monday, Hagel said the advice he gives the president has to include not just the start of any operation, but how it will end.
“Once you start an airstrike, or once you start any military action, it doesn’t end there. It ends up somewhere down the road,” said Hagel. “That’s not an excuse for inaction, because, as we know, there are consequences to inaction as well.”
Hagel has been meeting with allies over the past several days, including at the NATO summit in Wales late last week and in visits to Turkey and Georgia, as part of a broad effort to pull together a coalition to fight the Islamic State militants who have seized parts of Syria and a large swath of western and northern Iraq in months of brutal fighting.
As another part of the effort, Hagel has been talking to members of Congress by phone during this trip about Obama’s remarks scheduled for Wednesday. He said that in those conversations there has been broad agreement that the Islamic State militants must be destroyed. The president is expected to outline US plans to expand the campaign against the insurgent group.
According to Hagel, some lawmakers don’t believe Obama needs any more legal authorization from Congress to broaden the fight, but other members aren’t so sure. That legal question, he said, is still open and government lawyers are looking into it.
While Hagel said he did not want to get ahead of the president’s announcement, he added, “one of the things I know he intends to do is clearly define the challenge, the threat, what he intends to do about this . . . I’m sure he will mention the Congress in that speech. He wants the Congress as a partner.”
The US has been conducting limited airstrikes in Iraq, mainly to protect US personnel and interests, critical infrastructure, and refugees fleeing the insurgents.
As officials look at broadening that campaign to target the Islamic State militants across Iraq and across the border into Syria, there are nagging questions about whether this would drag the US into a messy, drawn-out conflict in Syria.
A number of countries, including the United Kingdom, were reluctant a year ago to launch military strikes into Syria, where there were worries about President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his people.
Hagel said Monday that he thinks the world is in a different place today because of the growing threat of the Islamic insurgents.
Congress Returns to Work; Try to Hold Your Applause
Dave Ross / The CBS Radio Network
(September 8, 2014) â€“ Congress is the institution that’s supposed to protect us from dictatorship, and yet we hate it. Its latest approval rating was 13 percent. A larger percentage of Americans sympathize with the Palestinians than approve of Congress.
I know a few members of Congress, and they are really bright people. But lately, you put too many of them too close and the radioactivity pretty much kills any compromise within a ten-mile radius.
So, Congress will meet for less than three weeks, just long enough to keep the government going until December, and then go back home to try to get re-elected.
During the campaign, you’ll hear a lot about various crises which may require us to bomb countries for their own good.
But issues like immigration reform won’t be touched.
Which I find pretty weird because you look at those crises — Ukraine vs Russia, Israel vs. Gaza, the Islamic State versus everybody else — and what they boil down to is various religious and ethnic groups that have been shut out of the political systems that controls their lives.
While at the same time, right here in America, we have 11 million immigrants who work and go to school here and pay taxes here but can’t vote; and then on top of that you have huge numbers of citizens who can vote, but don’t, so that government “by the people” is turning into government by the angriest people, because they’re the only ones ticked off enough to pick up a pencil.
You only have to look around to see where that kind of system leads. So I hope we fix this soon. Because I would really hate to see the day when some superpower decides it has to bomb us for our own good.
Why Not Do Stupid Stuff?
(September 5, 2014) — The most popular item on the New Yorker website was a piece of satire by Andy Borowitz.
It’s about President Obama’s much-ridiculed foreign policy motto, “Don’t do stupid stuff”.
Which, Borowitz says, has critics like Senator John McCain “pressuring him to do something stupid without further delay.”
Borowitz makes up a quote for Senator John McCain, “The President has chosen to waste valuable time thinking.”
Then he makes up a quote for Senator Lindsey Graham, “The American people are waiting for President Obama to do something stupid, but their patience is wearing thin.”
I decided to double-check – to make sure Borowitz was just joking and that the quotes were in fact, made up, because these days you never know.
Well, it turns out McCain & Graham said nothing of the kind. What they said was ISIS is after us.
“Do they have the capability to hit the homeland?” asked Graham. “I would say, yes.”
ISIS is rich.
“It’s the largest, richest, terrorist organization on Earth,” said McCain.
We can’t afford pay attention to national borders.
“We cannot give them sanctuary just because of the boundary,” said McCain.
You have to eradicate ISIS wherever it is.
“You can’t just contain it, you have to defeat it,” said McCain.
So what they’re saying is, instead of listening to a president who says don’t do stupid stuff, we need to launch a third war in the Middle East.
Presumably, because the last two worked so well.
Like I say, sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s joking.
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