President Trump was voted into office for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest was that voters trusted that he would take a more serious approach to destroying the Islamic State terrorist group than his challenger, Hillary Clinton. Under Barack Obama, the U.S. military did their best, but they were forced to abide by a series of restrictions that prevented them from unleashing the full power of American might against this misbegotten “caliphate.” Meanwhile, Obama spent the majority of his speeches focusing not on the destruction of the group but rather assuring Americans that there was really nothing to worry about when it came to Islamic terrorism.
Under Trump, the bombing raids have escalated and the military has been given more freedom to bring the fight to ISIS’s doorstep. However, the overall game plan has changed little from the Obama days. And part of the reason for that is that the executive branch only has so much legitimate power to wage war against hostile forces – even if those forces do not represent a country in any meaningful sense. And now some are urging President Trump to seek full war authorization from Congress, a move that would expand America’s ability to fight these terrorists while preserving the Constitution.
In a speech to the Heritage Foundation this week, Sen. Todd Young, a Republican from Indiana, said congressional authorization was past due.
“I believe it is long past time for Congress to pass and consider an AUMF for the fight against ISIS,” said Young. “The Founders, in my view, intended – and the Constitution demands – that Congress play a decisive role in the decision go to war, not acting as a rubber stamp or passive observer. This failure by Congress to fulfill its constitutional authorities isn’t good for our country.”
There is an AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force) in existence for the fight against terror groups who were involved in the 9/11 attacks and another one authorizing the Iraq War. Bush, Obama, and now Trump have used those AUMFs to wage war on ISIS, but the connection is growing more tenuous by the day. By putting this matter before Congress, Trump would go a long way towards restoring a sense of constitutionality to our military actions overseas. Furthermore, a vote for authorization would put ISIS back in the headlines and remind the entire country that we are still facing an enemy that has not been defeated – not by a long shot. Yes, we are winning by every conceivable measure, but we cannot begin to pretend that ISIS has been relegated to yesterday’s news.
A congressional vote to authorize the specific use of military force against ISIS wouldn’t necessarily have immediate on-the-ground consequences, but it would show the terrorists, our allies, and the American people that even in these divisive times, Republicans and Democrats can come together on matters of national security.
Or…it would show that even on that issue, they cannot.
Either way, it would be valuable information as the War on Terror continues under a third president.