Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Fearful Congress Sits Out the War Against ISIS

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, NYT
DEC. 26, 2015

The omnibus spending bill Congress passed this month includes several explicit mentions of the military campaign against the Islamic State and a $58.7 billion budget line that will allow the Pentagon to continue fighting the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria with bombs and, increasingly, troops on the ground.

That may be as close as Congress comes to authorizing war against the Islamic State for the foreseeable future. After a couple of halfhearted attempts, the White House and leaders in the House and Senate appear to have given up on drafting a new authorization for the use of military force that would set clear parameters for the escalating conflict.

That may be politically expedient for lawmakers who see no political gain, and plenty of risk, in casting a vote that could come back to haunt them. But by abdicating one of their most important responsibilities under the Constitution, which gives Congress the exclusive right to declare war, lawmakers are unwisely emboldening the executive branch to overstep its powers.

“Not just President Obama, but other presidents have become very liberal in interpreting their power as commander in chief,” Douglas Lovelace Jr., the director of the Strategic Studies Institute at the United States Army War College, said in an interview. “The president can take the nation to war, and once U.S. forces are in harm’s way, what congressional leader will say, ‘Let’s cut off their funding’?”

(More here.)

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