Secretary of State John Kerry may have made the worst argument yet in support of the administration’s increasingly floundering efforts to oppose of a new congressional authorization for the use of military force in Iraq and Syria.
“Let me be crystal clear: We didn’t start this,” Kerry told Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) in hearings on the state of the war against ISIS on Tuesday. “We’re not about to start a third war.”
“Osama bin Laden started this in 9/11/2001, and he has continued it in abstentia, obviously, though what al-Qaeda does,” he continued. “ISIL — Daesh – is an extension of al-Qaeda. It’s part of the same thing.”
Aside from the attempt to claim that the war on ISIS is an extension of a war against a man who has been dead for three and a half years, and that the operations currently underway in Iraq are being conducted by an administration which backs the repeal of the 2002 AUMF that authorizes the use of force in that country, this makes perfect sense.
Despite its unconvincing nature, this statement was far more adept than Kerry’s earlier attempt to make this same case in September:
“I appreciate your ability as a former prosecutor and a gifted attorney to try to make the case,” outgoing Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Bob Menendez politely told Kerry after his unpersuasive monologue. “I will tell you that at least from the chair’s perspective, you’re going to need a new AUMF.”
“We know you are thinking about retooling the AUMF,” Kerry replied. “And we welcome — we would like Congress — please do this.”
Well, the administration will most certainly get their wish when Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) becomes chairman of the FRC in 2015. At the very least, the incoming chairman is unlikely to find the invocation of bin Laden’s ghost a compelling argument upon which to base the concession that the administration’s execution of strikes on ISIS targets in both Iraq and Syria are legally authorized.