President Obama’s Letter to Congress Proposes AUMF
By: Roger Hoke – News Editor
President Barack Obama asked for bipartisan congressional support for his proposed draft Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the terrorist group ISIS Wednesday, Jim Acosta and Jerry Diamond wrote for CNN Feb. 12.
According to political science professor Jaro Bilocerkowycz, even though U.S. forces have been combating ISIS for half a year, Obama needed to try and gain congressional approval to start an offensive against the extremist group.
“We’ve been fighting ISIS for six months or so; I think [the president’s] view is we do need a debate and he’s hoping for bipartisan support,” Bilocerkowycz said. “Public opinion suggests the people are behind it but it’s a political and legal process, and the president feels this will strengthen the U.S. and the administration as it pursues it’s course of action.”
Bilocerkowycz said he believes Obama had to try and gain the support of both sides of Congress, even if the AUMF that was passed in 2001 still justified U.S. military action against terrorists.
“The 9/11 authorization is 13 or 14 years old so it’s getting on a little bit,” Bilocerkowycz said. “I think it’s a situation where all presidents are concerned to go to Congress for authorization of military action, but they feel they have a certain privy to take action and gain support as needed.”
The proposed draft has taken some heat from both sides of Congress, but House Speaker John Boehner R-Ohio, was quick to voice his opinion.
“If we are going to defeat this enemy, we need a comprehensive military strategy and a robust authorization, not one that limits our options,” Boehner said Tuesday.
Bilocerkowycz claims this type of skepticism is natural and it will be tricky for Obama to make it perfect for all members of Congress.
“The president indicated that he doesn’t want a long-term war effort in Syria or Iraq,” Bilocerkowycz said. “So I think the president is trying to delimit it so he’s not dragged in, nor does he want the country to be dragged in, but on the other hand he wants enough flexibility to do what he wants to do as commander in chief.”
With the struggle of creating a plan to appease all members of Congress already on his plate, Obama must also keep in mind the impact airstrikes may have on the citizens of Syria and Iraq. Bilocerkowycz said he believes this foreign policy may be dangerous to the rights of humans in those countries, but with how brutal ISIS is, and how hard it is to fight a ground battle in Syria, it may be necessary.
“The situation with ISIS is unique because they’ve been so brutal and barbaric and a lot of people in the Middle East are offended,” Bilocerkowycz said. “Anytime we take military action you’re going to alienate people, raise issues and inflict damage; there are always these issues that come up and I think the president is trying to walk that fine line.”
Junior Mike Brill, political science major the president of UD college democrats, believes Obama did well to tell Congress about his plans, but he does not believe he needs congressional consent.
“I think it’s a good gesture,” Brill said. “I don’t think he needs congressional approval, but I do think it’s good to get Congress’ backing.”
As for the human rights aspect of this foreign policy, Brill said he believes the attacks are for the best.
“I think it’s important to realize we’re sending humanitarian aid to that region during these [attacks],” Brill said.
Junior Elaine Laux, political science major and the president UD college republicans, said she believes that Obama’s proposition is too restrictive, and stated that in order to defeat ISIS, there needs to be U.S. ground troops in the Middle East.
“I believe that President Obama’s proposed legislation is more of a PR effort than anything,” Laux said. “He wants to give the appearance that we are going to be fighting ISIS, when in reality, the measure is far too limited. It does not include everything the United States needs to defeat the terrorist group, and shows a deep lack of commitment by the president. If we want to get rid of ISIS once and for all, we need boots on the ground.”
The proposed AUMF to Congress can be read at www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/aumf_02112015.pdf. Follow @FlyerNews for updates.