November 28, 2016

Don't you see that the new war in Somalia is the same old war Congress authorized 15 years ago?

In 2001, Congress authorized the President "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."

Although a separate authorization was acquired in 2002 to go to war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, it is the 2001 authorization that President Obama has relied on whenever he's felt a need to say that Congress has authorized the war with ISIS, and Congress hasn't pushed back.

Now, we learn that President Obama is interpreting the 2001 authorization to support a war against he Shabab in Somalia! The NYT reports:
The executive branch’s stretching of the 2001 war authorization against the original Al Qaeda to cover other Islamist groups in countries far from Afghanistan — even ones, like the Shabab, that did not exist at the time — has prompted recurring objections from some legal and foreign policy experts....

“It’s crazy that a piece of legislation that was grounded specifically in the experience of 9/11 is now being repurposed for close air support for regional security forces in Somalia,” said Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations....

In Somalia, the United States had long taken the position that a handful of Shabab leaders, as individuals, had sufficient ties to Al Qaeda to make them wartime targets. But it has debated internally for years whether the Shabab as a whole, including their thousands of foot soldiers, can or should be declared part of the enemy....

But as American partners have been going after the Shabab in general more often without any particular focus on individuals linked to Al Qaeda, it has been harder to point to any congressional authorization for such airstrikes that would satisfy the War Powers Resolution.

As the election neared, the administration decided it would be irresponsible to hand off Somali counterterrorism operations to Mr. Obama’s successor with that growing tension unresolved. Now, as Mr. Zenko pointed out, “this administration leaves the Trump administration with tremendously expanded capabilities and authorities.”
If the GOP Congress didn't stand up to Obama and balance his exercise of war power, it's hard to see how it will interfere with President Trump. Any Democrats (and other nonTrumpists) who cry out about an overpowerful President acting without express support from Congress will have to answer for why they did not make this argument when Obama was building the power of the presidency.

IN THE COMMENTS: MadisonMan takes issue with my last sentence: "Answer to whom? The non-questioning press who will only harp on Trump?"

29 comments:

Brando said...

Obviously despite repeated bleating, everyone seems to love the idea of mucking around in foreign messes regardless of any chances of success. Apparently we have endless funds for this.

David said...

"If the GOP Congress didn't stand up to Obama and balance his exercise of war power, it's hard to see how it will interfere with President Trump."

This won't stop the press and the Democrats and all of a sudden the college campuses will wake up to this. If the "war" isn't going well, public opinion may follow and Republicans read the newspapers too.

damikesc said...

Obviously despite repeated bleating, everyone seems to love the idea of mucking around in foreign messes regardless of any chances of success. Apparently we have endless funds for this.

Apparently. I don't get how a Somalian civil war situation is, in any way, our concern. Ditto the shithole in Libya.

We cannot save the world and I'm tired of killing our troops and bankrupting my kids to try.

MadisonMan said...

Any Democrats (and other nonTrumpists) who cry out about an overpowerful President acting without express support from Congress will have to answer for why they did not make this argument when Obama was building the power of the presidency.

Answer to whom? The non-questioning press who will only harp on Trump?

Bob Ellison said...

MadisonMan's point. I don't like just saying "what he said!", but this one is important. In six months, nobody will remember much of how crappy Obama has been.

Bill Harshaw said...

Tim Kaine tried to get a new resolution. The Republicans who control Congress weren't interested in taking a stand. (Not that the Dems were very interested either.) Much better to carp without taking responsibility.)

Sebastian said...

"Any Democrats (and other nonTrumpists) who cry out about an overpowerful President acting without express support from Congress will have to answer for why they did not make this argument when Obama was building the power of the presidency." Nah. What MM said. Foolish consistency and intellectual honesty are the hobgoblins of little nonliberal minds. Witness the recount shenanigans: a month ago not accepting election results was a political sin, now it is a political duty. Progs will say anything and get away with anything.

AllenS said...

Mr Harshaw, I could only find this, concerning what you said at 7:58 am --

LINK


I tried, but couldn't find anything about Republicans stopping the resolution.

Unknown said...

This is deliciously civilized. Democrats do not answer to anyone except the voters every two years. Any hypocrisy will be swished away by their propaganda apparatus.

Trump however may be a different story. He will just flat out call them hypocrites.

Mark said...

One of the few areas that the Obama Administration is right (even if they themselves believe it to be BS justification).

The fact of the matter is that the U.S. has ONE enemy. ONE. Al Qaeda, ISIS, and whatever they might want to next metastasize into or otherwise call themselves, they are one and the same enemy. Radical Islam. The same enemy that has been at war with the West for 1400 years.

There is one enemy and it is a September 10 mentality that says we need to get name-specific war authorization every time they change the label that they go by.

J. Farmer said...

The Al Qaeda that planned and carried out the 9/11 attacks was pretty much decimated over a decade ago. Whats we are fighting now is the franchisees that have taken up the Al Qaeda name to give cache to their local jihadi movements that have long existed in places like the Arabian peninsula, Northern Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. The notion that we have to "destroy" these movements to protect ourselves from another 9/11 is just another one of the many delusions that have infected our foreign policy since that tragic day.

Jupiter said...

Mark said...

"The fact of the matter is that the U.S. has ONE enemy. ONE. Al Qaeda, ISIS, and whatever they might want to next metastasize into or otherwise call themselves, they are one and the same enemy. Radical Islam. The same enemy that has been at war with the West for 1400 years."

Mark, the enemy that has been at war with the West for 1400 years is called "Islam". The supposed distinction between "radical" and "moderate" Muslims is a lie intended to keep us quiet while our enemies, foreign and domestic, continue their invasion of our territory with Muslim troops who live on welfare while they plan assaults against us.

eric said...

I'm sure you're a victim of auto correct, however, it's not he Shabaab.

It's Al Shabaab.

JAORE said...

Late to the party, but....

"Any Democrats (and other nonTrumpists) who cry out about an overpowerful President acting without express support from Congress will have to answer for ...." nothing, nothing at all.

I could cite a half a dozen total flip flops of the D party between in power/out of power off the top of my head. If (IF) the press even notes the inconsistencies it is in passing, buried somewhere around the tenth paragraph and with a lead in that explains away the hypocrisy.

Marc Puckett said...

Perhaps when Mr Trump wants to go to war, he will have the guts to use the word itself, thereby forcing the Congress to do its duty. Perhaps not.

Off point, but did everyone know that we have a national emergency on-going because of 'the situation in Burundi'? Mr Obama just renewed it for another year (on the other hand, the one in re Ivory Coast is now terminated). I guess 'national emergency' is a bureaucratic term of art in DC.

DavidD said...

Re: JAORE:

Dissent has gotten patriotic again, that's for sure.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

He definitely set a new standard for Nobel Peace Prize winners--I'll give President Obama that much.

Crickets from the usual Code Pink-type crowd, I note...

Unknown said...

I complained plenty when the Congress refused to vote on authorizing Obama's war powers.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/11/politics/isis-aumf-white-house-congress/

"Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, outlined the parameters of the request he delivered to Congress earlier that day. He said the bill reflects "our core objective to destroy ISIL," and includes authority for a "systemic and sustained campaign of airstrikes," support and training for forces on the ground and humanitarian assistance.

House Republican leaders were quick to dismiss the White House draft authorization as too limited, insisting that the President should have fewer limitations.
"If we are going to defeat this enemy, we need a comprehensive military strategy and a robust authorization, not one that limits our options," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement Tuesday. "Any authorization for the use of military force must give our military commanders the flexibility and authorities they need to succeed and protect our people...I have concerns that the president's request does not meet this standard.""



clint said...

I was going to ask: How common is it for a lame duck President to start a new war?

Then I realized, the last time it happened was President George H. W. Bush -- who sent troops abroad in December, 1992... also to Somalia.

How weird is that?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Mark, you aren't recognizing the major feuds that go on between/among/within your "one enemy." If Al Qaeda and ISIS were the same thing, we'd find it a lot easier to attack it. Throw in Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram &c. and it gets harder still. These groups all have things in common, principally that they'd like to see all of us hacked to death or burned alive, but they do still bicker amongst themselves.

Qwerty Smith said...

A quick guide to progressivism:

Shall we take sexual harassment allegations seriously?
Thomas hearings: yes.
Clinton scandals: no.
Trump scandals: yes.

Shall we rein in executive authority?
Reagan years: yes.
Clinton years: no.
Bush years: yes.
Obama years: no.
Trump years: yes.

Shall we engage in racial profiling and crude racial generalizations?
Traffic stops, airport security: no.
College admissions, explaining Republican victories: yes.

Shall we heed empirical evidence or contrary anecdotes?
Global warming: empirical evidence.
Police shootings: contrary anecdotes.

There is never any accounting.

n.n said...

Somalia, huh. Another refugee crisis caused by Obama's progressive wars... I mean, peace-mongering.

Progressivism, or rather progressive liberalism, is defined by the Pro-Choice quasi-religion. It's selective and opportunistic, unprincipled and unpredictable. Fundamental corruption.

Big Mike said...

If the GOP Congress didn't stand up to Obama and balance his exercise of war power, it's hard to see how it will interfere with President Trump

Not hard to see at all. No one will accuse the members of Congress of racism if they stand up to Trump.

tim in vermont said...

Sigh...

At least the press will suddenly become skeptical again, and the anti war protests will begin anew.

J. Farmer said...

The global threats the US faces are, in my opinion, are routinely overstated and overhyped. This is mostly in service to an activist, interventionist foreign policy and to an entrenched military bureaucracy that, like all bureaucracies, constantly demands more money, more resources, more power.

The majority of what the US has done in response to the 9/11 attacks has been largely useless and counterproductive. Efforts to call this conflict World War 3 or a generational war or in any way whatsoever comparable to the World Wars of the first half of the 20th century or the Cold War of the second half of the 20th century are an absurdist overreaction. Paramilitary and covert operations targeting the group in southern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan with some limited drone support in places like Yemen would have been a justified, proportional response to the attack.

A global military campaign aimed at destroying jihadist separatist writ large was an unrealistic goal that was unnecessary for our security. Many of these movements, while sharing a similar radical salafist view as Al Qaeda, were not involved with the organization and had not participated in any attacks on the US. Even worse, the US foolishly pursued a regime change policy against the Taliban in Afghanistan. The US could easily have punished the Taliban for harboring bin Laden while the leaving the basic government in tact. A regime change strategy puts the US on the hook for leaving behind a stable government and opens itself up insurgent guerrilla warfare. Suddenly, the target is no longer the small band of Al Qaeda figures who carried out 9/11 but local Taliban fighters. That war continues to this day.

And as if the Afghanistan operation was not already enough of a headache, the US catastrophically and unforgivably hobbled itself even further with the insane Iraq project. Just as Dick Cheney had presciently predicted a decade earlier when faced with criticism over not carrying the Kuwait War to Baghdad and taking Hussein out of power, such a move would predictably leave a power vacuum in which competing groups (e.g. Kurd, Shia Arab, and Sunni Arab) would vye, likely violently. The US military was brilliant in its swift, overwhelming destruction of the Iraqi state. And while the army of nation builders who flooded into post-war Iraq had plenty of technocratic expertise in their respective fields, they really had no clue how to create a coherent nation out of the competing group alliances that made up the country we call Iraq. The consequences live with us today.

The violent civil war the engulfed Iraq wound down after the mixed areas of central Iraq were ethnically cleansed and the Sunnis of western Iraq became disenchanted with and turned against the foreign Sunni jihadists who were largely fueling the insurgency against US troops and various Shia targets. The newly formed Iraqi government was eager to push out US forces who may act as a check on their ambitions.

J. Farmer said...

The incoming Obama administration made good on its promise to remove troops from Iraq while carrying out a cosmetic, pandering, face saving "surge" in Afghanistan. The administration was determined not to get dragged into anymore quagmires. They took Bush's "kill-or-capture" program and whited out the capture. Instead of kidnapping suspected jihadists, rendering them, and then torturing them for information, the Obama administration would just assassinate them. With few boots on the ground, Obama would carry out the war in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

When the administration got caught up with Arab Spring fever, it thought it continue this minimal boots on the ground, limited commitment, regime change on the cheap policy. Revolutionary movements in places like Libya and Syria would be used as a pretext to take out those respective regimes. When the Bahrain monarchy, an official friend of the US, violently put down in its own smaller revolutionary threat, the US was much more forgiving.

Since 9/11, the US has directly or through proxy participated in the toppling of at least six regimes in Northern Africa and the Middle East. In every instance, the outcome has been a situation worse than what preceded it. Remember the definition of insanity? The one about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome?

Robert Cook said...

"We cannot save the world...."

We've never been trying to save the world. We're exerting American military force to gain or maintain dominance in those parts of the world where we want dominance, (for geopolitical and/or economic reasons.)

Robert Cook said...

J.Farmer's two posts @ 10:32 PM are excellently cogent.

Bill Harshaw said...

Allen S.

Okay, a bit unfair. But with Rep control of Congress, if they had wanted a new use of force resolution, like Kaine's, they could have passed it easily. Instead they wasted their time with pointless repeal of Obamacare resolutions, which pleased their base but did nothing for good policy or to assert Congress' role.