Obama’s exquisite political predicament in Iraq

posted at 1:21 pm on August 8, 2014 by Noah Rothman

The times, they are a’changing. With American air assets executing strikes on ISIS targets in Iraq, it seems like only yesterday that the administration was taking credit for ending the Iraq War and trying to erase any memory of that painful period. That is probably because it essentially was only yesterday.

For example, the administration has regularly insisted that it supports the repeal of the 2002 congressional resolution which authorized the use of force in Iraq. As recently as July 25, the White House insisted that Congress should repeal that resolution which provided the president with the legal authority to execute military strikes inside Iraq.

“We believe a more appropriate and timely action for Congress to take is the repeal of the outdated 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq,” read a July 25 letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) from White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

The pursuit of the repeal of the AUMF in Iraq was an exercise in service to a political goal, of course, and not a strategic one. That AUMF, which remains in place now, is providing this administration with the legal authority to not only execute strikes inside Iraq in defense of American assets and personnel, but to possibly carry out strikes on ISIS targets which do not immediately threaten American interests.

Of course, the Obama administration cannot say that. On Thursday night, immediately following President Obama’s address in which he revealed he was authorizing airstrikes in Iraq, reporters probed an administration SAO about what legal authority the White House believes justifies these operations. The responses were somewhat contradictory.

The official told reporters that the President of the United States enjoys the authority under the Constitution to execute strikes in Iraq. At another point, when asked if counterinsurgency operations inside Syria were on the table, the official said that American military authorization was restricted only to Iraq.

Of course, there is irony here for Congress as well. Those primarily Republican members of the House who supported contingency operations inside and over Syria in 2013 backed unilateral action by the president. They and the president knew that, if authorizing force in Syria came to a vote in either chamber of Congress, it would likely fail.

In spite of the fact that the administration lobbied heavily in favor of a resolution to use force, which did pass a Senate committee, the resolution was shelved when it appeared unlikely to pass in the Senate. Obama, for his part, had already essentially consented to allowing a Russian-brokered deal suffice as a resolution to the crisis in Syria.

Would a new authorization to use force in Iraq against ISIS militants meet the same fate? It’s possible, but Congress is certainly thrilled that they do not have to cast a contentious vote to reauthorize military action in Iraq. Obama, too, is surely grateful that he has the 2002 AUMF should he be required to justify future strikes against ISIS targets. It is, however, the height of absurdity that this resolution – opposition to which almost singlehandedly elevated Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries – is now making life easier for a lot of elected officials.


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Must love Drudge

OBAMA DROPS BOMBS
BACK TO IRAQ

Schadenfreude on August 8, 2014 at 1:23 PM

NobelObama….so much drama!

can_con on August 8, 2014 at 1:27 PM

It’s surprising how the war doesn’t seem to end just by saying its over.

tommer74 on August 8, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Give me a break.

I keep hearing Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry saying the solution needs to be political and once we have a new government in Baghdad this will resolve itself.

If there’s ever been a more naive and foolish statement, right now I can’t remember it.

ISIL has a “vote” in this. I doubt they will pack it up once there is a new government in Baghdad. They’ve made that clear.

This strategy, combined with the dropping of two bombs on two artillery pieces (report are there are about 35 on the outskirts of Erbil alone) and the standoff military approach is bound to fail.

The effect is this enemy is being given time to regroup and dig in. It will make it harder to dislodge them and cost more lives.

Absolute buffoonish, amateur foolishness.

Marcus Traianus on August 8, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Gee, I wonder if we’ll see Senator McCain speak in
the Senate today stating “This War is lost”

ToddPA on August 8, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Is al Qaeda still on the run?

I’d really like to kick Obama in the groin.

BuckeyeSam on August 8, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Hold on here!

butch on August 8, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Explain Libya then.

No resolution or authorization from Congress. No compliance with the War Powers Act by the Administration. All they did was claim that a UN Security Council resolution gave them all the authorization needed for the US military actions.

The official told reporters that the President of the United States enjoys the authority under the Constitution to execute strikes in Iraq. At another point, when asked if counterinsurgency operations inside Syria were on the table, the official said that American military authorization was restricted only to Iraq.

This is all little more than spin, done in the name of political expediency. This President will do what he wants to do.

I do not believe that this President really wants to engage ISIS. He doesn’t want to have to explain that ‘one of the great accomplishment’s’ of his Administration, as named by his VP, was the politically motivated failure that it obviously is. I also don’t think that he, or his National Security team, sees ISIS as a threat to the US, and is only reluctantly acting on humanitarian grounds.

As Ambassador Crocker correctly notes, this Administration in particular, can’t see or define evil. It’s a willful blindness.

Athos on August 8, 2014 at 1:30 PM

AUMOOOF!

Pqlyur1 on August 8, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Obomba could have kept a small residual force in Iraq and had stability and relative peace there, but instead now this. Hopefully the genius learns that lesson before he kneecaps are forces in Afghanistan as well.

anotherJoe on August 8, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Don’t the ISIS guerillas know he is THE ONE, the Affirmative Action sorry a*s excuse for a president?

They should just let him vote present and go play golf, rather have to maker a hard decision.

Being president is soooo hard. BoofreakingHoo

txdoc on August 8, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Code Pink to hold protests at 1600 in 3…2…1…

Oh wait, they won’t?

22044 on August 8, 2014 at 1:31 PM

“Gotta disrupt, dismantle, and defeat those tea partiers in Iraq.”

22044 on August 8, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Josh Earnest may have some trouble with this one.

butch on August 8, 2014 at 1:36 PM

This is Bush’s fault! – Libtard’s

Patriot Vet on August 8, 2014 at 1:38 PM

This blog post is not fair to the Obama administration. If ISIS waited until a new government was installed in Baghdad, Obama wouldn’t have had to authorize these strikes.

//

Walter L. Newton on August 8, 2014 at 1:39 PM

“Mission Accomplished”…

JohnGalt23 on August 8, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Kind of like Bush with the whole “Mission Accomplished” thingy. Obama ran away from Iraq and said we won the war, peace in our time, etc. He and he alone owns the consequences.

Johnnyreb on August 8, 2014 at 1:40 PM

The Saudis are going to take a hit on insurance for the Toyota truck fleet leases.

BL@KBIRD on August 8, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Someone in Iraq is racist. Who?

faraway on August 8, 2014 at 1:49 PM

Is al Qaeda still on the run?

I’d really like to kick Obama in the groin.

BuckeyeSam on August 8, 2014 at 1:28 PM

…..he doesn’t have one…..

mjs28c on August 8, 2014 at 1:50 PM

Josh Earnest may have some trouble with this one.

butch on August 8, 2014 at 1:36 PM

Oh, Hell no, butch. He was chosen as press sec for his ability to spin subjects as if there were no gravity. He’ll spin this so hard it will drill down into the floor of the press room.

partsnlabor on August 8, 2014 at 1:54 PM

Jay Carney Jr. was tying himself in knots trying to drive home the point that his boss doesn’t believe there is a military solution in Iraq.

The current situation there must be giving Barry one massive migraine, not that deciding between being a leader and playing to his base is a difficult choice for him.

Conservatives are always whining that the Republican Party doesn’t respect its base. Obama’s only concern IS his base–politics not policy–and it makes him a terrible president.

Contrary to what the complainers here believe, catering to your base is ultimately bad political strategy. The respective bases are extreme, and most voters are rational. The Republicans understand this, Obama in his ideological zeal does not. It will be interesting to watch him deal with his Iraq “predicament.”

Meredith on August 8, 2014 at 1:57 PM

Cindy Sheehan is at Martha’s Vineyard already.

Schadenfreude on August 8, 2014 at 2:02 PM

The respective bases are extreme, and most voters are rational.

Meredith on August 8, 2014 at 1:57 PM

Yeppers, they brung obama, twice. You’re fun to watch.

Schadenfreude on August 8, 2014 at 2:04 PM

President Cut’n’Run has to admit that George W. Bush was right.

Steve Z on August 8, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Obama is now confronted with harsh realities that cannot be denied. His presstool can proclaim there is no military solution in Iraq, but against the backdrop of ISIS terrorists in the process of enforcing a military solution its falsity could not be more apparent. Even a useful idiot media can’t support Obama’s fantasy narrative with the ME in flames, Christians running for their lives, and a genocide in progress.

Obama totally pulled out of Iraq. Since then he has undermined our former allies in the Middle East and encouraged the Muslim Brotherhood, in the process strengthening a myriad of Islamist terrorist groups, and not just in the ME. It’s obvious he would have been happy for the Muslim Brotherhood to establish a region-wide caliphate, but it’s not working out for him. He’s getting the caliphate, but in the hands of Islamists so evil and murderous even Obama must find it difficult to deny what they are.

By re-engaging militarily in Iraq, Obama is forced to confront his failures. He must admit that not all evil in the world is the result of American influence or American power. I’m sure it’s an uncomfortable and extraordinarily difficult task for him to rationalize sufficiently to generate the levels of denial required to protect his ego in these circumstances.

I have great faith in his capacity to ultimately deny his responsibility for a Middle East awash in blood, but take some small comfort in the knowledge it has to be costing him at some level. Perhaps that’s petty of me.

novaculus on August 8, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Code Pink to hold protests at 1600 in 3…2…1…

Oh wait, they won’t?

22044 on August 8, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Maybe next week, their giant v@gina outfits are still at the cleaners.

HumpBot Salvation on August 8, 2014 at 2:14 PM

The MSM also failed to notice that the NATO Missile Defense system…which was cancelled by Obama…likely would have prevented the Russian threat to Ukraine.

“Cut ‘N Run” also has a cost!!!

landlines on August 8, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Actually proud of Obama for the first time in a very long time. Iraq’s problem are its own. Leave us out.

libfreeordie on June 13, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Chuck Schick on August 8, 2014 at 2:19 PM

No Joke: White House Says Obama Didn’t Bomb Syria Because Assad Didn’t Ask Him To…

Which begs the obvious follow-up question: Why would Assad ask the United States to bomb him?

Resist We Much on August 8, 2014 at 2:20 PM

This is so hard to understand. Haven’t we been told that the greatest danger we face is global warming? Since ISIS would take civilization back to the 700′s when mankind had a much lower carbon foot-print, and global warming we are told is due to carbon and will destroy the entire earth in fire while ISIS will only destroy the non-Sunni world in fire, are they not heroes to the environmental movement? These Yezidis with their eternal flame fetish clearly were net carbon contributers; so are they not pariahs of the progressive left? Clearly some people just do not have their priorities straight.

Where are the progressives chanting “All we are saying is give hunter gatherer barbarianism” a chance.” /s

KW64 on August 8, 2014 at 2:20 PM

The MSM also failed to notice that the NATO Missile Defense system…which was cancelled by Obama…likely would have prevented the Russian threat to Ukraine.

“Cut ‘N Run” also has a cost!!!

landlines on August 8, 2014 at 2:17 PM

NATO missile defense system would have stopped russian tanks and infantry? Wow. That’s a great system!

Tlaloc on August 8, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Headline I’d like to see:

“Netanyahu calls Obama: Urges restraint; Calls for U.S. to minimize casualties”

bigdubs on August 8, 2014 at 2:26 PM

If there’s ever been a more naive and foolish statement, right now I can’t remember it. Marcus Traianus on August 8, 2014 at 1:27 PM

“This is the day that the oceans stopped rising”?

Akzed on August 8, 2014 at 2:31 PM

“Cut ‘N Run” also has a cost!!!

landlines on August 8, 2014 at 2:17 PM

NATO missile defense system would have stopped russian tanks and infantry? Wow. That’s a great system!

Tlaloc on August 8, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Not the missles themselves. It’s the “Cut ‘N Run” part that encouraged the bully Putin.

wifarmboy on August 8, 2014 at 2:43 PM

obama says the only solution is political because that’s all he knows. He cannot conceive of any other option therefore it is off the table for him not realizing that it is not off the table for everyone else. What a putz and a waste of an alleged higher education.

warmairfan on August 8, 2014 at 2:52 PM

NATO missile defense system would have stopped russian tanks and infantry? Wow. That’s a great system!

Tlaloc on August 8, 2014 at 2:24 PM

The fact that the Russians couldn’t retaliate with their missiles when NATO missiles took out the Russian troops and tanks would have been a considerable deterrent. Not much on military strategy are you?

de rigueur on August 8, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Obama will be airdropping in community organizers from the Muslim Brotherhood to solve all problems.

albill on August 8, 2014 at 3:17 PM

obama says the only solution is political because that’s all he knows. He cannot conceive of any other option therefore it is off the table for him not realizing that it is not off the table for everyone else. What a putz and a waste of an alleged higher education.

warmairfan on August 8, 2014 at 2:52 PM

What’s worse is that our feckless, petulant, naive narcissistic sociopath-in-chief sees only a political solution that is based on one thing – appeasement.

The problem with that is, with these fanatical islamofascists, they can’t be negotiated with or appeased. They want what they want and can not settle for anything less than the caliphate they envision.

Obama’s ‘only’ option is one of failure from the getgo – which is ironic since he’s trying it while trying to avoid exposing his unilateral surrender in Iraq as being the failure it was.

Athos on August 8, 2014 at 4:14 PM

I love the smell of schaudenfreude in the afternoon.

formwiz on August 8, 2014 at 4:41 PM

Didn’t Obama refer to the ISIS as the JV? Obama and all of those surrounding him are a bunch of Dudes. Makes me want to puke.

mobydutch on August 8, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Now, let’s hear it from the liberal, oba-MAO, apologists… How safe do you feel now, libs, with that clown in OUR WH? I don’t. At all.

ultracon on August 8, 2014 at 5:42 PM

Well, Obama meant what he said when he said it; but he didn’t mean it because his fingers were crossed and it was a Tuesday. And besides, that was THEN, this is NOW, and it was a long time ago anyway. Oh, and he lost the emails about it, so we’ll never be sure seeing as his hard drive crashed. Again.

GarandFan on August 8, 2014 at 6:12 PM

… it seems like only yesterday that the administration was taking credit for ending the Iraq War …

Mission Accomplished?

Oxymoron on August 8, 2014 at 6:28 PM

Well, Obama meant what he said when he said it; but he didn’t mean it because his fingers were crossed and it was a Tuesday. And besides, that was THEN, this is NOW, and it was a long time ago anyway. Oh, and he lost the emails about it, so we’ll never be sure seeing as his hard drive crashed. Again.

GarandFan on August 8, 2014 at 6:12 PM

Dude, that was like five years ago or something.

Nutstuyu on August 8, 2014 at 8:03 PM

The Democrat party is going to spend the next 100 years trying to live down the fact that they tried to peddle socialism to the American-people. The Obamacare system is a total failure. Now we find out that we have voted a rank amateur into the White House. If he had kept 10,000 troops inside Iraq with close air-support NONE of this current nightmare would have taken place. Barack Obama will be remembered for two things on his “Foreign-Policy,” Retreat and Appeasement.

Bugdust172 on August 10, 2014 at 11:03 AM