By JUSTIN LEGG
WASHINGTON — Having been asked to comment on President Obama’s Draft AUMF Proposal, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that I was a military officer for over 10 years. I served in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, tasked with finding and capturing likely the same type of individual in the ranks of the Islamic State today. Now, on to the subject at hand.
Current military operations in Iraq and Syria are already being justified under an expansion of the 2001 AUMF (enacted during the Bush administration in response to 9/11) and presidential powers as Commander-in-Chief. For me to argue the legal points would be somewhat outside my lane, but many legal scholars concur that current actions will continue on this basis should the draft proposal stall or fail. This renders the new AUMF proposal unnecessary. President Obama is a legal scholar and must know this. I can then only conclude that it is all a political stunt. Without belaboring the point, my guess is that the phrases regarding limitations on “enduring offensive ground operations” and a three-year duration limit is all meant to appease public distaste for sending our troops off to fight yet another long war.
At the same time it may stir up some type of stalling debate which the President hopes will shake out in his favor. I don’t want to speculate further on the reasons for doing this, as there are so many ways to twist it and it is sufficient merely to identify that this is not a serious proposal. It’s a ploy. Why? It’s anyone’s guess at this point. However, an AUMF genuinely directed at properly addressing the threat the Islamic State poses would first stop identifying them as ISIL and treat them as I have, by the name they call themselves. It’s an important distinction. The document not only would refrain from a self-imposed limitation on “enduring offensive ground combat,” but would acknowledge the high likelihood of it becoming necessary to effect a lasting peace, and that Congress should prepare to make budgetary adjustments to accommodate for such action.
Lastly, it would leave the duration open-ended, matching the timeframe thrust upon us by those who have already stated their intentions to attack. Anything less is just political maneuvering or Ivy League law school banter and should be dismissed as such. But that is only an opinion from a man who has plenty of friends resting in Arlington and is fully aware of the horrible cost of escalating this engagement.