First was his declaration that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (he calls them ISIL but I won't) is not Islamic. His rationale? "No religion condones the killing of innocents." Really, Mr. President? Have you been watching radical Islam for the last say... 20 years? Are you trying to tell the world that all of the terrorists who kill innocent people throughout the world in the name of Allah are not Muslims? I guess "Allahu akbar" isn't the Islamic phrase for "God is greater" or "God is the greatest"?
Second - President Obama said ISIS is not a state. I guess that could be true except that the President himself addresses them as ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant. So if it's not a state, Mr. President - why do you keep referring to them as a state?
President Obama says he has the authority to attack ISIS on his own, without Congressional approval, using the provisions of the 2001 Authorization For Use Of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), signed into law by President George W. Bush immediately following the 9/11 attacks. As recently as last year President Obama was calling for the law to be repealed. On Wednesday he said he could unilaterally attack ISIS in accordance with that law he wanted repealed - before it became convenient for him.
To his credit he did say he would like Congressional approval for the action. I'm sure that's only because he wants to be able to blame them if something goes wrong.
The real problem with using AUMF authority is that the law doesn't really authorize the President to use force against ISIL. The beginning of the law reads as follows:
"The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."
ISIS didn't exist in 2001. ISIS did not plan, authorize, commit or aid the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. So President Obama really does not have the authority to escalate the offensive against ISIS as he says.
Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry both refuse to say we are going to war with ISIS. Instead they say this is a "very significant counter terrorism operation." To boost President Obama's idea that he (Obama) can act unilaterally against ISIS if Congress won't approve such action, Kerry said “This group is and has been al Qaeda,” Kerry said. “By trying to change its name, it doesn’t change who it is, what it does.”
Really? I thought Al Qaeda was dead?
“The war in Afghanistan is winding down. Al Qaeda has been decimated,” President Obama said during a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, November 1, 2012. “Osama bin Laden is dead. So we've made real progress these past four years.”
So which is it? Is ISIS now Al Qaeda or did the President
lie... uh, exaggerate just a bit during his 2012 campaign? I'll let you decide.
One thing is certain. Whatever Obama and Kerry choose to call it, dropping bombs on another country is normally considered an act of war - even if it's not declared.
Finally, President Obama has a way of telling our enemies what we are and are not going to do. It's a bad habit he has. He broadcast to the world (and the terrorists) when we would be completely out of Iraq and then, against the advice of all (or most) of his military leaders, he did just that. He pulled all of our troops out of Iraq without leaving a residual force in place. The experts say that's one of the reasons ISIS was able to grow so quickly - because they had no opposition, thanks to Obama.
Obama has told ISIS he is going to escalate the air campaign against them and that he will not be putting American boots on the ground to fight them. I'm pretty sure ISIS is not deterred much by the threat of more air strikes - but I'm pretty sure they're quite surprised to learn they're not Muslims.
Some people say we should stay out of this and let Islam sort it out. I disagree. So far the Muslim community as a whole has not lifted a finger to combat ISIS. Only the Kurds in Northern Iraq are challenging them and that's because ISIS is trying to conquer the Kurds. The other Islamic nations are sitting back and waiting until they are threatened directly.
The other reason we have to be a major part of the solution is because we were a major part of the creation of the problem. ISIS grew from the Al Qaeda backed rebels in Syria that President Obama, against the protests of Republicans, decided to arm against Bashar Assad. ISIS took advantage of the arms given them and not only decided to take part of Syria as its own but half of Iraq as well. We gave them arms, we funded them and we helped them grow. Obama called them the Junior Varsity team a few months ago - words he's had to eat in the last couple of weeks. (Of course, Press Secretary Josh Henry denied Obama was talking about ISIS in that statement - even though the question he was answering was directly concerning ISIS. It was one of those "Never mind what he said - that's not what he said" moments.)
ISIS is estimated to be 30,000 strong today. That's three times the original estimate of 10,000. They have captured banks in their occupied territories and have emptied them of their funds. They now control oil production plants as well. It is estimated ISIS brings in about $1 million a day. They don't need US funding anymore, obviously. But since we helped create the monster we should take the lead in destroying it.
Congress needs to step up and authorize the President to declare war on ISIS. The President needs to stop telling the enemy what he's going to do (or is not going to do.) And he needs to be prepared to put boots on the ground if necessary after the air campaign. You cannot destroy an enemy with bombs when they are spread out across two countries. No, I don't want another war. But ISIS is making it necessary. As has been said numerous times by those who are not blinded by liberal ideology: "We may not be at war with Islamic terrorists but they are at war with us."