When Obama gave his speech on September 10, promising to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, it was interesting for what it said and didn’t say. Obama laid out a four part strategy for defeating ISIS. The most notable thing it didn’t say was that Obama intended to ask Congress for authority to wage a war against ISIS that would, at a minimum, encompass two countries, one of which, Syria, doesn’t want us operating on their territory.
My administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home. I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL, but I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together. So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.
Later in the speech he does recognize the need for limited congressional action:
Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition. Tonight, I call on Congress again to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters.
Before the speech, Obama told congressional leaders much the same thing:
Ahead of the speech, Obama met for nearly two hours with the top four congressional leaders on the threat posed by the group also known as ISIS and ISIL. The lawmakers left the meeting without speaking to the media.
However, a White House statement released after the session made it clear the president would not be asking for a congressional vote to authorize military force. “The president told the leaders that he has the authority he needs to take action against ISIL in accordance with the mission he will lay out in his address tomorrow night,” the statement said in part. It added that he would “welcome” congressional support.
In last year’s run-up to what once seemed like inevitable war against Syria, the president made what can be interpreted as an incoherent claim: that he had enough legal cover to start bombing Syria, but that he would nonetheless seek congressional approval. When that approval was not forthcoming, the president decided on a diplomatic solution instead. But note how he treated the congressional-authorization question one year ago today:
[E]ven …read more