Kaine: Obama has to get authorization from Congress for any Iraq action

posted at 2:01 pm on June 25, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

A notable protest, because Tim Kaine is not just any Senator. He’s also a Democrat — and, in fact, a former chair of the Democratic National Committee — and has been around for a couple of previous attempts at intervention by Barack Obama. In today’s Washington Post, Kaine warns the White House that neither the 2001 AUMF on al-Qaeda nor the 2002 AUMF on Iraq covers the current situation against ISIS:

Last week, both the Obama administration and certain members of Congress said that no congressional authorization is needed for U.S. military action in Iraq. I deeply disagree. …

In the current Iraq crisis, neither authorization applies. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not an al-Qaeda affiliate — in fact, it is openly battling with al-Qaeda in Syria — and administration officials have said that the 2002 AUMF is obsolete and should be repealed.

No one can deny that threats from ISIS, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups across the region are metastasizing. An Iraq that becomes a haven for jihadists poses a threat to the United States. I’m open to hearing the case for military action in Iraq, but first we need a new playbook.

The “ISIS is not AQ” argument has to be heavily, heavily qualified. The two are not at open war with each other, as Kaine suggests, although units in their respective networks may have clashed in Syria occasionally. ISIS declares its loyalty to Osama bin Laden’s vision, and was an early offshoot of the main AQ network run by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as “al-Qaeda in Iraq.” AQ designated Zarqawi as the network’s “emir” during the insurgency. We certainly considered AQI as a legitimate target under one or both AUMFs during that period, and it’s not clear why a name change would make a difference now.

It’s also not clear when Kaine changed his mind to be a stickler on interventions. In last year’s abortive attempt by the Obama administration to intervene in Syria, Kaine did insist on a Congressional authorization before any action took place. In 2011, though, Kaine gave Obama the latitude to continue the war with Moammar Qaddafi that Obama started without consulting Capitol Hill, although suggesting that it might be better politically for Obama to work with Congress:

“I do think in things like this, err on the side of caution and go to Congress,” Kaine said in an interview after a campaign stop in Charlottesville.

When asked whether the War Powers Act legally requires the White House to get congressional approval for Libya, Kaine was noncommittal.

“I’m not the lawyer on that,” Kaine said, adding that the president had a “good rationale” for going in, given that sanctions had failed and the United Nations and the Arab League signed off on intervention.

Perhaps Kaine learned a lesson from the disastrous Libyan intervention. The Obama White House didn’t.

This question is probably academic, as Obama’s demands for political reform before engaging militarily are probably going to go unanswered.  Nouri al-Maliki rejected the demand of a national unity government in the face of the threat to the capital:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Wednesday ruled out forming a national emergency government to confront a Sunni militant offensive that has overrun large parts of the country.

“The call to form a national emergency government is a coup against the constitution and the political process,” Maliki said in a televised address.

“The dangerous goals of forming a national emergency government are not hidden.

“It is an attempt by those who are against the constitution to eliminate the young democratic process and steal the votes of the voters,” said the Iraqi leader.

Translation: We’re going to keep the spoils to ourselves … until ISIS shows up and takes them away from us. That will put a big dent in US plans to get Sunnis re-engaged against ISIS, which involve an attempt to produce another Anbar Awakening, only this time without American protection:

They were known as the Sahwa, or the Awakening Councils — Sunni militiamen who took extraordinary risks to side with U.S. troops in the fight against al-Qaida during the Iraq War. Once heralded as a pivotal step in the defeat of the bloody insurgency, the Sahwa later were pushed aside by Iraq’s Shiite-led government, starved of political support and money needed to remain a viable security force.

Now, the Obama administration is looking at the Sahwa, which still exist in smaller form, as a model for how to unite Sunni fighters against the rampant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant that has swept across most of the nation’s north. Also known as the Sons of Iraq — “sahwa” is Arabic for “awakening” — U.S. officials say they hope Sunnis will be similarly stirred to fight back against the new insurgency.

As many as 3,000 core ISIL fighters, many of them foreign, are believed to be in Iraq. But U.S. intelligence officials fear twice that many Iraqi Sunnis are vulnerable to being lured into the violence — pushing the country into an outright civil war. That has prompted the White House, State Department and CIA to look for incentives to keep as many disgruntled Sunnis as possible from joining the fight.

The success of the original Anbar Awakening came from convincing the local Sunni tribal leaders that Zarqawi’s terrorists were simply intolerable even for fellow Sunnis, giving them boatloads of cash, and promising that the Americans would guarantee their access to political power in the new Iraqi republic with our outsized influence due to our security efforts. Pulling out of Iraq has entirely negated our ability to deliver on the final point, which makes this sales job impossible.

What are we offering in its place? Nothing. Literally:

The Obama administration has no immediate plans to arm or fund the Sunni security militias, and there are too few American personnel in Iraq now to try to duplicate the original joint force.

It’s thought likely that Iraq’s Sunni neighbors — notably Jordan and Saudi Arabia — will use their cross-border tribal networks to bolster the security militias with financing or weapons, but it’s not clear whether Washington would even support that privately. The U.S. probably would want to vet the tribes before they received any money or arms, even from other nations, to ensure that the aid does not get passed along to ISIL or other extremist groups.

Good luck with that. The Sunnis trusted us once, and we left them in the lurch in regard to both Maliki and ISIS. If we’re not willing to get back on the ground with them — even for all of the legitimate and persuasive reasons why we shouldn’t — why would these Sunni tribal leaders switch sides now?

Update: Good luck convincing these Sunni tribal leaders once ISIS acquires an air force:

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham is threatening to take control of Balad Airbase, Iraq’s largest airfield and one of America’s most important military outposts during its occupation of the country.

Today, Balad still has plenty of vehicles and aircraft on the base that any terrorist group would covet, including Russian-made transport helicopters, surveillance planes, and a fleet of pickup trucks fitted with heavy machine guns.

Now, that airbase is coming under fire—and is in danger of falling into the hands of ISIS, according to U.S. intelligence officers, internal reports from Balad, and outside analysts. Reuters reported Wednesday that the base was now surrounded on three sides by insurgents and taking heavy mortar fire.  …

Of course, even if ISIS were to gain control of Balad, there is no guarantee its fighters would know how to operate or maintain the aircraft that are stored there. But an ISIS takeover of Balad would be significant nonetheless. As NBC News reported Tuesday, Iraqi officers say without air support they are on an equal footing with ISIS fighters.

Jessica Lewis—the research director for the Institute for the Study of War and a former U.S. Army intelligence officer who served in Iraq—told The Daily Beast, “It would mean that ISIS can beat the best that the Iraqi Army can muster, not just the northern units that have been ignored. It would mean strategic defeat for the Iraqi Army.”


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HA HA HA

ebrown2 on June 25, 2014 at 2:02 PM

Presidents have to go to Congress for authorization to go to war.

god-kings do not.

Especially (half) black ones.

ConstantineXI on June 25, 2014 at 2:04 PM

No one can deny that threats from ISIS, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups across the region are metastasizing.

Oh well, at least GM is still alive. Sort of.

Can’t say about all those people suffering ignition failures while speeding down the interstate.

Bishop on June 25, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Our Idi Amin in the hhhhWhite House and his JustUS beyotch Holder disagree….

viking01 on June 25, 2014 at 2:05 PM

A notable protest, because Tim Kaine is not just any Senator. He’s also a Democrat — and, in fact, a former chair of the Democratic National Committee

Most important is that he’s a FOB, friend of billary.

RickB on June 25, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Oh well, at least GM is still alive. Sort of.

Can’t say about all those people suffering ignition failures while speeding down the interstate.

Bishop on June 25, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Or 1,000 military veterans killed by dithering in the VA.

ConstantineXI on June 25, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Kaine is dumb enough to be a Democrat!

Obama does as he pleases and the Republicans do nothing

Obamatrix on June 25, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Obama’s ego can’t take 2014. Something is going to snap.

Oil Can on June 25, 2014 at 2:13 PM

This is simply Kaine creating an example of where he was ‘tough’ with Obama to point to later. That’s all. Except more of the ‘rats to do so as his popularity sinks and their ballot box prospects grow more precarious.

changer1701 on June 25, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Maybe Obama shouldn’t have bragged so much about the “ending the war”.

forest on June 25, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Nouri al-Maliki rejected the demand of a national unity government in the face of the threat to the capital

Kerry… a statesman for our time.

Walter L. Newton on June 25, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Obama’s ego can’t take 2014. Something is going to snap.

Oil Can on June 25, 2014 at 2:13 PM

He’s going to take out his pen and cell phone and declare that 2014 never existed. Not a smidgen of 2014.

Walter L. Newton on June 25, 2014 at 2:17 PM

On the one hand, Kaine is simply parroting what Ted Kennedy said in April of 1975, in effect telling then-President Gerald Ford, “Don’t even bother to ask us for aid to South Vietnam, because we want the Communists to win”.

On the other hand, Kaine probably knows he’s quite safe in making this statement, because The One wants a failure in Iraq as much as Ted and his “Revolution Lobby” wanted one in Vietnam.

He doesn’t care who dominates Iraq; Iran, ISIS, ISIL, some combination of the three, and/or a third-round draft pick yet to be named. Just as long as they are reliably “authentically Islamic”- meaning anti-American, anti-Western, primitivist, prone to magical thinking, and determined to erase Israel from the map.

So Kaine can rest easy. The request will never be made. Which makes this pure political theater. Or in other words, the usual BS from the progressive headshed.

clear ether

eon

eon on June 25, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Getting Congressional approval wasn’t necessary for all the other illegal moves by Obama. Why is this one different?

HotAirian on June 25, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Jessica Lewis—the research director for the Institute for the Study of War and a former U.S. Army intelligence officer who served in Iraq—told The Daily Beast, “It would mean that ISIS can beat the best that the Iraqi Army can muster, not just the northern units that have been ignored. It would mean strategic defeat for the Iraqi Army.”

Just a matter of time, now. As I understand it, Maliki purged all his good Sunni brass in favor of incompetent Shia cronies, and that can’t be reversed overnight, even if he wanted to.

butch on June 25, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Obama’s ego can’t take 2014. Something is going to snap.

Oil Can on June 25, 2014 at 2:13 PM

When this happens people won’t use the Hitler scene from Downfall anymore on YouTube. They’ll use Obama.

ConstantineXI on June 25, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Getting Congressional approval wasn’t necessary for all the other illegal moves by Obama. Why is this one different?

HotAirian on June 25, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Because there are mid-term elections in just five months. Kaine isn’t up for re-election but the reality is that you don’t go into an election cycle having to defend the fact that your rat-eared leader decided to deal with Iraq without bothering to consult with Congress, the UN, allies, etc.

Happy Nomad on June 25, 2014 at 2:32 PM

When this happens people won’t use the Hitler scene from Downfall anymore on YouTube. They’ll use Obama.

ConstantineXI on June 25, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Oh! I hope not. I’m sick of seeing that rat-eared bastard’s face.

Happy Nomad on June 25, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Because there are mid-term elections in just five months. Kaine isn’t up for re-election but the reality is that you don’t go into an election cycle having to defend the fact that your rat-eared leader decided to deal with Iraq without bothering to consult with Congress, the UN, allies, etc.

Happy Nomad on June 25, 2014 at 2:32 PM

The only way Obama goes to Congress is if he wants them to share in the blame.

But Congress might say NO, a word Obama is not accustomed to hearing. He hates that word. More than he hates conservatives. You don’t say NO to a god-king.

ConstantineXI on June 25, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Just a matter of time, now. As I understand it, Maliki purged all his good Sunni brass in favor of incompetent Shia cronies, and that can’t be reversed overnight, even if he wanted to.

butch on June 25, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Same reason why we can’t fix all that our filthy lazy stupid bastard of a leader broke overnight. He replaced good and decent people with Harvard grads, Chicago thugs, and other assorted cronies.

Happy Nomad on June 25, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Kaine: Obama has to get authorization from Congress for any Iraq action

Nuh uh. Obama do what he want! He’s preznit.

/Cell phone lady

Key West Reader on June 25, 2014 at 2:38 PM

The Obama administration has no immediate plans to arm or fund the Sunni security militias,

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the friends of Husseins, the holders of tollybonn 5 , the home of aljizzira, the havala funders of muzzie bros, the one , the only, the Qataris :

http://shoebat.com/2014/06/24/secret-document-reveals-recruiting-isis-fight-iraq/
ofcourse, Hussein’s phone -pal the Turks are with them too

burrata on June 25, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Nuh uh. Obama do what he want! He’s preznit.

/Cell phone lady

Key West Reader on June 25, 2014 at 2:38 PM

How does he pay for it without Congress? From his stash?

ConstantineXI on June 25, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Will he mention the WMDs ISIS captured last week?

formwiz on June 25, 2014 at 3:07 PM

In the current Iraq crisis, neither authorization applies. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not an al-Qaeda affiliate

Too funny.

Obama has trapped himself by pretending that ISIS is not Al Qaeda.

Per the State Dept, ISIS was known as Al Qaeda in Iraq until last month.

It’s like saying the Church of England is not a Christian church.

Repeat after me… Obama gave Iraq to Al Qaeda.

faraway on June 25, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Nuh uh. Obama do what he want! He’s preznit.

/Cell phone lady

Key West Reader on June 25, 2014 at 2:38 PM

How does he pay for it without Congress? From his stash?

ConstantineXI on June 25, 2014 at 3:06 PM

That’s right!! From his stash! Mmmmm Hmmmm

/Headbobble

Key West Reader on June 25, 2014 at 3:16 PM

That’s right!! From his stash! Mmmmm Hmmmm

/Headbobble

Key West Reader on June 25, 2014 at 3:16 PM

and his brother’s stash,
his Kenyan brother who has a tax exempt iIslamic ” charity” in the US , remember him ?

burrata on June 25, 2014 at 3:42 PM

And the next question is: Does anybody believe Obama would know what to do with our military should he get permission to use it?

Socratease on June 25, 2014 at 3:57 PM

The “ISIS is not AQ” argument has to be heavily, heavily qualified. The two are not at open war with each other, as Kaine suggests, although units in their respective networks may have clashed in Syria occasionally.

It is a little bit more than just occasional clashes. Zawahiri told the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS by another name) to get in line and follow the lead of the al-Nusra Front in Syria and Iraq. ISIL rejected that command and said Zawahiri had lost his way. ISIL and al-Nusra fought several major battles and ISIL cut off and isolated some al-Nusra held towns.

Several groups called on both to stop fighting one another. Sawt al-Jihad Nusantrara (Voice of Jihad in Nusantara) declared for al-Nursa and said “we have witnessed that Jabhat al-Nusrah is wronged and defamed.” and told Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (leader of ISIL) to “order your soldiers to stop the hostilities in either the battlefields or the media. Stop fighting the mujahidin and cutting off their supply routes and order your followers and supporters to cease hostilities..and devote yourself to Iraq” This was in May of this year.

There is no love lost between ISIL and al-Nusra, the AQ designated lead. But, it’s like the emnity between Hitler and Stalin. They were both evil murderers without a dimes worth of difference between them.

SoonerMarine on June 25, 2014 at 4:36 PM

And Kaine is yet another creep from Virginia where the kudzu also grows.

I doubt his protest amounts to much: not even a …mutiny.

Sherman1864 on June 25, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Why aren’t we bombing all the critical weapons/assets BEFORE they fall into enemy hands???????

jeanneb on June 25, 2014 at 4:45 PM

King Barky the Liar don’t need no stinkin authorization for a kinetic action in Iraq. Sir Kerry of Ketchup has said it would be irresponsible to use air strikes no matter how infinitesimally small they would be. My guess the answer is to release more top shelf Tollybons from GITMO.

You could take any ten random third graders and get a more lucid, intelligent, and integrated foreign policy that the Obama regime has managed.

jukin3 on June 25, 2014 at 4:51 PM

The only reason The One would go to Congress for authorization is that He knows He’d be turned down, and when Iraq goes south, he can blame Congress (specifically, the House).

vnvet on June 25, 2014 at 7:43 PM