Congress Must Vote Before We Expand The Attacks On ISIS

As talk begins of expanding the war against ISIS into Syria, it is becoming long past time for Congress to exercise its Constitutional function.

Iraq US Flag

I haven’t written much about the latest developments regarding Islamic State/ISIS, the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, and the seemingly steady increase in American airstrikes against IS/ISIS targets in northern Iraq, mostly because I can’t honestly say that I feel like I have any better handle on what we should do or what we can achieve than anyone else. On the surface, it seems fairly clear that IS/ISIS is the kind of potential threat that could be a serious problem for the United States and the rest of the world in the future if it is allowed to consolidate its hold on vast stretches of Syria and Iraq, essentially writing those nations out of existence as we know them today. Nations from the Arabian Peninsula to Jordan would be potential targets, and Iran would have yet another reason to reject the idea of slowing down its military buildup and nuclear program. Additionally, we shouldn’t dismiss out of hand the threats from IS/ISIS to strike the United States even if they can’t hit us right now. On the other hand, though, it’s hard to see what the United States can actually do about the situation at this point. Airstrikes alone will not dislodge IS/ISIS from the territory it now holds and nobody, not the Kurds, not the Iraqis, and not the Syrians, seems to be strong enough to dislodge them on the ground. That raises the possibility that American “boots on the ground” would be needed, but that seems to be a taboo political issue on either side of the political aisle.

While we debate what, if anything to do about IS/ISIS, though, it seems to be well beyond time for Washington to debate the question of what legal authority the President has to do what he has done so far, and to expand American airstrikes into Syria as some have suggested. Most recently, the White House asserted that the airstrikes in Syria that have occurred so far fall under the Presidents inherent authority as Commander in Chief. Indeed, the Administration has apparently already begun surveillance flights over Syria, a precursor to such attacks, and is saying that it has no intention of seeking Congressional approval before any strikes in Syria. As Molly O’Toole notes at National Journal, this raises the prospect of a war powers fight with Congress as we head into the midterm elections:

As the United States military’s intervention in Iraq intensifies, so does the debate between legislative- and executive-branch officials about President Obama’s muscular use of war powers.

In the past 10 weeks, Obama has authorized the first U.S. combat operations in Iraq since the war ended in 2011, and sent in roughly 1,000 U.S. troops.

The U.S. operation in Iraq is likely to extend beyond the 60-day limit under the War Powers Resolution that triggers congressional approval, meaning Obama may need a different authority to continue the fight. The president has used the sweeping 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force, or AUMF, to fight terrorist groups across the globe, but many argue it was primarily intended to authorize combat operations in Afghanistan, which officially end in December. The latest Iraq intervention represents what may be Congress’s last, best opportunity to rein in the dramatic expansion of the commander in chief’s authority to wage war that has occurred in the last 13 years.

The irony is that Obama just one year ago declared he would cut back the very authority his aides are now reconsidering. He pledged to chart a new path forward when he laid out his vision for a new comprehensive national security strategy to guide U.S. foreign policy.

“The AUMF is now nearly 12 years old,” Obama said at National Defense University in May 2013. “Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states. So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate.”

Today, gone is the talk of curbing unbound presidential powers to wage war. As the clock ticks, and Obama extends air attacks on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, administration officials argue that the commander in chief is operating within his authority.

“We comply with the War Powers Act and informed Congress on how many people we have,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday. “This is not about mission creep.”

But Obama’s team quietly is considering whether they can use the original AUMF to shore up the president’s authority to conduct the growing U.S. military operation in Iraq.

“The president has the authority to take these actions,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told Defense One on Aug. 15. Obama has kept Congress informed, she said. If the Iraq operation continues past Oct. 7, however, Hayden demurred, “It would be speculative to discuss how the 60-day provision in the War Powers Resolution would apply to these two specific and limited U.S. military operations.”

But, Hayden said, “We are reviewing the applicability of the 2001 AUMF to this situation, which would be in addition to the president’s constitutional authority as noted in the War Powers Resolution report.”

It’s a notable shift from the administration’s position that Obama would work with Congress to ultimately sunset the AUMF altogether. The administration continues to support the repeal of the 2002 AUMF that authorized the Iraq War of 2003-2011.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen this issue come up during the Obama Administration, of course. Three years ago, the President authorized American involvement in the war against the Gaddaffi regime based solely on resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council and, notwithstanding complaints to the contrary, ignored calls to seek Congressional authorization for the action. Last year, as the President inched closer and closer to attacking Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons, members of Congress from both parties called on the Administration to seek Congressional approval for any such action. Initially, the President resisted those calls but, eventually, he relented and announced he would ask Congress to authorize an attack, although no such vote was taken and no attack occurred. In no small part, one suspects that this was because it was becoming clear that neither the House nor the Senate were going to approve a resolution.

This time around, the President at least initially seems inclined to go with his initial instincts to keep this out of Congress’s hands, even though that is pretty inconsistent with the position he took as a candidate for President. In response to a Boston Globe Q & A session in December 2007, for example, the President had this to say:

2. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

As for the specific question about bombing suspected nuclear sites, I recently introduced S.J. Res. 23, which states in part that “any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress.” The recent NIE tells us that Iran in 2003 halted its effort to design a nuclear weapon. While this does not mean that Iran is no longer a threat to the United States or its allies, it does give us time to conduct aggressive and principled personal diplomacy aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Similarly, in an August 2007 speech before the AFL-CIO, the then-Senator said that the American people had the right to know before military action is taken in their name, and the man who would become his Vice-President said that a President who took non-defensive military action without Congressional authorization would be a candidate for impeachment. As Conor Friedersdorf argues, the President would be wise to listen to his former self before expanding military action against IS/ISIS:

Absent a declaration of war or a statutory authorization from Congress, the president can’t introduce the U.S. Armed Forces into hostilities save in “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States.” If the president lawfully begins hostilities abroad due to such an attack, then he has 60 days to engage in hostilities without congressional approval. A 30-day extension can be obtained, but only if “the President determines and certifies to Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces.” The War Powers Resolution is not a 90-day blank check for war! It’s the same statute the Obama administration violated when it attacked Libya.

Obama should seek congressional approval before ordering any strikes on Syria because the law compels him to do so, but that isn’t the only argument for a legislative vote

  • The legislature is in a better position than the executive branch to carry out the will of the American people, which ought to dictate United States foreign policy.
  • A congressional debate can help to test the arguments for intervention, which may well be wanting given the dearth of public scrutiny they’ve gotten.
  • Every two years, Americans decide whether to keep or oust their representatives in the House. Knowing where they stand on hugely consequential matters of national policy is integral to the American system functioning.
  • A war to defeat ISIS would be a huge undertaking. Embarking without the support of the citizenry casts doubt on whether the country would see the effort through.
  • It is dangerous to give a single man the power to take a nation to war without anyone being able to do a thing to stop him. It is, in fact, anti-Madisonian.

Perhaps the most important reason that Congress needs to be consulted and to authorize any future action, though, is the fact that we seem at the moment to be headed down a very slippery slope. Everyone in the Administration and at the Pentagon that has spoken about the attacks on IS/ISIS and the threat that the organization poses has emphasized the fact that any effort to dislodge and defeat them is likely to be long and complicated. Inevitably, if we keep this up, we will be required to face the question of whether or not to commit combat troops to the effort even in some limited numbers. If we wait until that point to get the representatives of the people involved in this process, it may well end up being too late in the sense that we will have already committed ourselves to the war against IS/ISIS to such an extent that escalation becomes inevitable no matter what Congress or the American people may want. Before we get to that point, the President has a responsibility to take the matter before Congress, and Congress has a duty to consider the matter and vote on it.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Iraq War, Law and the Courts, Military Affairs, National Security, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. C. Clavin says:

    Yes…make all the chicken-hawks take a stand so we can hold them accountable later. Ryan, Cruz, Paul…let ’em all vote so we know where they stood in 2016 when we are bogged down in another quagmire.

    There are others in the International community that have more to lose from the current situation. Like Israel. Netanyahoo claims ISIS and Hamas are the same. Fine. Then fight ISIS…our greatest ally ever. Or is that only when it comes to taking our money?
    How about Iran? Russia? They have a bigger strategic interest in Iraq than we do.

    I will say that Bush and Cheney caused this mess…so we have some responsibility to clean up after them. But we should not be doing it alone.

  2. Mu says:

    If Obama is clever he asks for another AUMF and lets the Republicans in the house turn it down. Then all he needs is to put a life feed of ISIS youtube videos on the white house page and wait for the pitchforks clearing out the house.

  3. @C. Clavin:

    How is Paul a chicken hawk?

  4. C. Clavin says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    You are right.
    But let’s wait and see how he votes…do you really think a Republican Presidential candidate is going to vote against fighting?
    He’s already tempered his anti-isolationism in anticipation of his run.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    I agree we need Congress in on this, whatever “this” is.

    My own view is that we should be practicing containment – something we are very well-positioned to do. The IS is surrounded by enemies. They can’t take Jordan, they can’t take Damascus, they can’t take Kurdistan, they can’t even take Baghdad. The only thing that really worries me is Saudi Arabia. That’s where I’d head if I was IS.

    Containment is a whole lot easier than rolling them back. We can do containment with airpower, weapons to friendlies and some special forces. A roll-back? That’s tougher. That’s city fighting.

  6. Tyrell says:

    @michael reynolds: Well, they could try heading into Turkey, and I think Turkey would certainly hit them hard. There are some mountains that they would have to get through. It was reported that ISIS has seized an air field and now has missiles, drones, and who knows what else. It is making people pretty edgy considering that a lot of their members have passports and could get into the US. They caught some guy up in NY the other day who has been communicating with ISIS. And what is the latest about all those people on top of that mountain? What has happened to them?
    The good thing is that ISIS is not large enough to hold a large area. They also have no air power, at least not yet. The bad news is that they are growing and are getting people with tech skills.
    At any rate, it is imperative that the thug who killed Foley be killed or captured – sooner the better before it happens again.
    SS chief Heinrich Himmler would certainly approve of this group.

  7. socraticsilence says:


    If they headed into Turkey it would, arguably remove the need for congressional action as they would (if treated as the state the claim to be) be attacking a NATO member and treaty obligations would necessitate a US response if requested by Turkey.

  8. JWH says:

    I say … go to Congress to obtain a declaration of war.

  9. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:

    He’s already tempered his anti-isolationism in anticipation of his run.

    His isolationism.
    My bad.

  10. Ron Beasley says:

    The problem is the gutless wonders that make up the current congress have no desire to commit themselves to an up or down vote. I can hear Boehner now – “the president can handle it.”

  11. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Once again President Obama is in stark disagreement with Senator Obama. And in this case, I think that President Obama is technically right — he could use the AUMF to send troops after ISIS, and I think that is, generally, a good idea.

    However, I think that it would be better to get Congressional approval. Especially if he wants to take the fight against ISIS into Syria and other places outside of Iraq.

  12. Guarneri says:

    You know, if you took the money from Obama’s auto worker buddies and their. Delphi inversion, his buddy Buffet and his inversion and all those Goldman Sachs campaign donations you could pay for that war making. He’ll, you could even throw in a new pen and phone for those executive end runs.

    Problem solved! Hey! Wait, math doesn’t quite work. Michelle can just tax those sodas and boiggas. You want onions on your boigga?

    Fixed it.

  13. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Yeah, this is largely the same group that refused to vote in support of the Libyan airstrikes, but also refused to stop them via funding. As far as I’m concerned every single congress critter who voted that way should be automatically disqualified from office (if not flat out shot as wastes of genetic material), but they’ll do the same thing again.

    The most gutless wonders indeed–far easier to let the President make a decision and then call it wrong (no matter what decision he makes).

    Everyone has their issue that sets them off, this is mine. Do your bleeping job you worthless a****. Support the troops and the commander in chief, or prevent them from being put into danger by standing up to him and cut the funding for the activity, but you can’t have it both ways.

    Sorry for my language.

  14. Gustopher says:

    Given that there are no good options, and anything the President does will be subject to second guessing and political exploitation, I don’t see why the Republicans would ever want to be involved in the decision.

    So, the President should ask congress for authorization, just to be mean.

  15. michael reynolds says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    You’re suggesting Congress actually take on responsibility instead of sniping from the cheap seats? That’s crazy talk.

  16. michael reynolds says:


  17. humanoid.panda says:

    @Guarneri: If you just copy and paste “I am stupid” 50 times, you’d create the same mental effect for your readers as you did with this tirade, while spending none of your precious, and very limited, mental capacity.

  18. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    I know it’s crazy talk. I don’t really expect it (especially from this Congress of the last few years)–except in issues of life and death for all those soldiers they purport to support. As far as Constitutional powers go, it’s the most important by far (in my opinion). More than spending or law enforcement, or anything else, Congress is responsible for whether we go to war or not. It’s been nothing but cowardice on that issue for at least 50 years.

  19. michael reynolds says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    It’s been cowardice for almost exactly 50 years. Tonkin Gulf Resolution, August 7, 1964.

  20. Guarneri says:

    Strong words, humanoid.

  21. PD Shaw says:

    Obama can attack ISIS under the AUMF Against Iraq:

    —The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to—

    (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
    (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

    The President was given a blank check to pursue national security threats concerning Iraq that has not been repealed. End of story.

  22. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    I’m not aware that Iraq–the nation we invaded led by a brutal dictator–currently poses a threat, and no possible reading of the intent of the AUMF would say it was meant to apply to a terrorist group that didn’t even exist at the time. I know WHY backers of intervention resort to such contortions (the same reason I’m so disgusted by Congress on this issue in the first place–they won’t do the most basic element of their damn job), but please, don’t insult our intelligence by pretending the AUMF ever envisioned this situation in the slightest.

    The English language is far too flexible for it’s own speaker’s good.

  23. humanoid.panda says:

    @Guarneri: If you don’t want people to insult you, don’t insult them by being either stupidly inane or inanely stupid.

  24. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @PD Shaw: I’d look more at the “Whereas” statements for backing of that position. There are quite a few that are still relevant. (I did this before, and I think it’s worth repeating.)

    Whereas in 1990 in response to Iraq’s war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq;

    Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;

    Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;

    Whereas Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998;

    Whereas in Public Law 105-235 (August 14, 1998), Congress concluded that Iraq’s continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in `material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations’ and urged the President `to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations’;

    Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;

    Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolution of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;

    Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;

    Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council;

    Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

    Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of United States citizens;

    Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;

    Whereas Iraq’s demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself;

    Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 (1990) and subsequent relevant resolutions and to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and refusal or obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), repression of its civilian population in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 (1991), and threatening its neighbors or United Nations operations in Iraq in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 949 (1994);

    Whereas in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1), Congress has authorized the President `to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) in order to achieve implementation of Security Council Resolution 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677′;

    Whereas in December 1991, Congress expressed its sense that it `supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 as being consistent with the Authorization of Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1),’ that Iraq’s repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and `constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region,’ and that Congress, `supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688′;

    Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;

    Whereas on September 12, 2002, President Bush committed the United States to `work with the United Nations Security Council to meet our common challenge’ posed by Iraq and to `work for the necessary resolutions,’ while also making clear that `the Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable’;

    Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq’s ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;

    Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

    Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

    Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40); and

    Whereas it is in the national security interests of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region:

    There was that brief scare when ISIS took control of a chemical weapons plant, so that brings the WMDs factor into play. Plus, the references to terrorist groups says “including” Al Qaeda, so it isn’t limited to just them.

    But yeah, a fresh Congressional resolution would be better.

  25. @michael reynolds:

    The only thing that really worries me is Saudi Arabia. That’s where I’d head if I was IS.

    Why would they attack the country bankrolling them?

  26. Guarneri says:


    Sir, yes sir!

    But seein’s how I’m in the presence of such titanic mental capacity I was wondering if you had pulled yourself from MSNBC today to watch the CBO presentation of their call down in 2014 growth to 1.5% ( sorry Michael, but it’s true) your reaction to their change of 3/4 a point in LTIRs and it’s causes, as well as their observations on business activity, LFPR, demographics and the change in potential output on incomes. You know, being perhaps the single most important domestic policy issue we have. You DO have a view, right? Right?!

    BTW – it’s called sarcasm and irony, crap for brains.

  27. Stonetools says:

    This Congress is good at stamping its feet and telling Obama “No!” It’s not so good at governance and making policy. It’s not surprising that the President is abandoning even the pretense of consulting with them on serious foreign policy issues. Does anyone really think that they have anything meaningful to contribute ?
    My guess is that even if Obama asked them to come in, they would lob it back into the Presidents lap like a hot potato. These moronic, gutless wonders need to be voted out, not consulted. It’s a shame that it looks like they won’t be.

  28. Eric Florack says:

    Well, look… the problem here was when Barry went off on his own, abandoning the plan, and the Iraqi people with essentially, a unilateral declaration that the war was over…. just in time for the election.

    That said, more of our people have been made casualties under Obama, than under Bush.

    Then, too, and to the point of the piece, there’s a LOT of things Obama has done that should have been run through Congress first. Since he’s been ignoring those requirements at will, why does anyone consider that this situation will be different on any level?

  29. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack


    Let’s say you meet Obama next week. Would you have the guts to call him that to his face? No? That’s what I thought.

    The President, President Obama, or simply “Obama” will all work just fine.

    Or, you could admit that you are simply pretty low form of troll.

  30. michael reynolds says:


    Those are excellent questions for another thread. We were talking foreign policy.

  31. humanoid.panda says:

    @Guarneri: For the record, I had not watched a single minute of MSNBC or any other cable news show in five years.
    Also for the record, if you were discussing these issues in the first hand, it would have been weird since they are so much off topic, but I wouldn’t be calling you an idiot. I was calling you an idiot because you were reciting a litany of talking points that are transparently stupid and have nothing to do with the issue at hand. I mean, there is a thread on corporate inversions and if you were trolling it, you’d be making sense, at least a little…

  32. michael reynolds says:

    What I’m not getting here is why we think ISIS is a unique threat to the US. It’s absolutely a threat to the nations that surround it, but they should be able to contain it if they can manage even minimal co-operation. Again, eliminating it is a very different proposition. But in the region are the Jordanian, Syrian, Iraqi and Saudi air forces, and on the ground the Peshmerga, the Shiite militias, the sad little Iraqi army, Assad’s thugs, and the Saudis’ maids and pool boys. If that’s not enough there are the Turks and the Iranians.

    I see that we needed some quick action to save the Kurds, but seriously, why are we selling weapons to Jordan, the KSA and Turkey if they never actually use them? Sooner or later we need to cut the umbilical cord.

    Now, if it looks like containment is failing, sure, send in the B1s and the F16s and the Predators. But in the meantime, given a choice between a terrorist organization that is stateless and dispersed, and a terrorist organization that’s trying to pump oil and hold land, the latter is easier to deal with. Ask Hamas how much fun it is to be terrorists and try to maintain a government.

  33. humanoid.panda says:

    And as for your posting about GDP and estimates and so forth, why is that surprising? The US is rapidly cutting deficits at a time when the economy is running under capacity, and like all Keynsian models predict, this is stopping the economy from reaching escape velocity. What this has to do with Obama, except in the generalized sense that the President is responsible for any and all economic news, a view that many Americans holds, but people with some knowledge of the economy such as yourself should reject, is a mystery.

  34. humanoid.panda says:

    Also, I am sorry, but what you posted is called non-sequitur, not sarcasm and irony. If you argued that Obama is to busy playing golf to request Congress authorization to attack ISIS, that would be a feeble attempt at those things. Since no one had ever implied that what’s stopping him from requesting authorization are fiscal concerns, joking about tax inversions is the very definition of non-sequitur.

  35. humanoid.panda says:

    @michael reynolds: My guess would be that given that the Sunni powers are not eager to fight ISIS, and the Kurds are too weak to defeat it (or so it seems), the administration wants to avoid a situation where Iran and the Shia militias are the only power left standing when ISIS is defeated.

  36. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @michael reynolds: What I’m not getting here is why we think ISIS is a unique threat to the US. It’s absolutely a threat to the nations that surround it, but they should be able to contain it if they can manage even minimal co-operation.

    Well, they’re interested in threatening us, and have made a point of killing at least one American to get our attention.

    I’m a big believer in dealing with little threats before they can become big threats.

  37. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: what I would call him involves one less letter.
    I’ll call that fool whatever I damn well please.
    Particularly after watching the left in action.
    Respect is earned.
    He doesn’t even come close.

  38. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    Yes, yes… we all know what a brave guy you are when you are hiding behind a computer.

  39. Tyrell says:

    @michael reynolds: Lyndon Johnson later said that Congress gave him unlimited authority in Vietnam: ” the sky’s the limit”. After about a year he was told by advisers that it would be easier to withdraw 30,000 soldiers than 300, 000 down the road. Johnson always felt bound by treaties the US had signed to defend SE Asian countries from communism, the “domino” theory. This was supported by both parties, and a majority of the people. Johnson and his people were frustrated that they could not fight that war like WWII. Johnson was one of the most skilled politicians in history. He did a lot of good for the country. There is little doubt that he would have been re-elected in ’68, and in ’72 also if he had ran.
    Watch Johnson’s interview with Conkrite about the Vietnam decision.

  40. Rafer Janders says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Well, look… the problem here was when Barry went off on his own, abandoning the plan, and the Iraqi people with essentially, a unilateral declaration that the war was over…. just in time for the election.

    “Thank you. Thank you all very much. Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” — George W. Bush, “Mission Accomplished” speech, May 1, 2003.

  41. CB says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Because they despise Riyadh almost as much as they despise Washington

  42. Wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: you mean you’re a big believer in having other people deal with little threats. You constantly push for military action, but never sign up and don’t even think you should pay for your desired action with higher taxes.

  43. bill says:

    so the “jv” team has gone varsity and the other group formerly known as “on the run” are wreaking havoc in the sand kingdoms again? if it’s our battle then we should drone them to death- or let them all kill each other so they can”t blame us or the jews- although they will anyways. that obama treats them like they’re just a bunker on the back 9 is the strangest part- i don’t think his heart is in this anymore, dreams of book deals and the lecture circuit are way more lucrative/ appealing.
    weakness is not rewarded in the non-western world, something to chew on next term.

  44. michael reynolds says:


    weakness is not rewarded in the non-western world, something to chew on next term.

    Careful what you wish for, Bill. There’s no one on the red team as tough as Hillary.

  45. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Guarneri: Unfortunately, Poe’s Law works against you in this case. We just can’t tell when you’re being ironic and when you’re being a wingnut.

  46. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    Respect is earned.

    I’ve asked you this like six times now, and you keep ducking. Do you own any stocks or real estate? If the answer is yes, are they doing better halfway through Obama’s second term then they were the day before he took office?

    Personally, my net worth has nearly doubled under Obama, even though my income is down from where it was two years ago. That gets some respect from me, considering the economy was poised on the brink of the abyss when he took office.

    Are you going to man up and answer this simple question. or are you going to keep running?

  47. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: six times?
    hmm. Id not noticed. Guess that should give you an indication how seriously I take you.

    My stocks are about keeping up with inflation. almost. Of course, the new taxes Obama has imposed with his congressional minions, wipes that out and then some. so, on the whole, far worse. My expectation is that wont change till the direction of the government does.

    theres a great deal more involved with earning my respect, of course but I note with you its the first thing. I find that fascinating, and not unexpected.

  48. Eric Florack says:

    @Rafer Janders: The battle was over. the war was not. But apparently, you dont understand the difference between the two.

  49. Eric Florack says:

    @Stormy Dragon: which raises the idea that theyre not in fact bankrolling them.

  50. Stan says:

    @Eric Florack: “My stocks are about keeping up with inflation, almost.”

    My stocks, like anjin-san’s, have almost doubled since Obama’s inauguration. If your portfolio is doing as bad as you say, you need help.

  51. Stan says:

    This is somewhat off topic, but it’s worth mentioning. According to today’s NYTimes, ISIS is headed in large part by former officers in Saddam’s army who were fired after the invasion.

    Here’s a paradox to chew on. In my youth the Truman administration, headed by a provincial politician with no higher education extended vast amounts of aid to our foreign competitors, including our former enemies, to rebuild their economies. The result was sixty years of prosperity, for ourselves as well as the rest of the industrialized world. In my old age the Bush administration, headed by a patrician with degrees from three of our most famous educational institutions fired most of the upper echelon of the Iraqi army, while being careful to leave the munitions depots unguarded. This was breathtaking. Historians will puzzle over this for the next hundred years.

    Sorry for venting.

  52. gVOR08 says:

    @Stan: Eric doesn’t mean the official inflation rate, he means the inflation rate in his head, the one driven by Obama’s spending spree and ballooning deficit. 😉

  53. stonetools says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker:

    We just can’t tell when you’re being ironic and when you’re being a wingnut.

    Guarneri isn’t been ironic. He’s just too stupid and trollish to post his hot-off-the press right wing talking points to the right thread. I think he has won the “Dumbest Right Wing Troll on the Site” award against stiff competition.

  54. stonetools says:

    One reason why the Administration might not want Congress getting involved is that I can easily see Congress doing what it did with the border “crisis”: Refusing to vote the President funding requested while simultaneously insisting that he take action. That would truly eff things up, but I could see Congress doing this. I just don’t see any bottom to crazy Congressional ODS action.
    Now, you would think that if they did this kind of crazy, people would rise up in wrath and throw the bums out come November, but again, considering the depth of Obama hatred in the Republican base plus gerrymandering, I don’t think Republicans are worried about that.

  55. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    My stocks are about keeping up with inflation. almost

    Wow. You must be the worst investor in history. Congratulations, I guess.

  56. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:

    My stocks are about keeping up with inflation.

    You must get your stock advice from the same place that tells you what to think about politics…apparently they don’t know anything about stocks either.
    We are in the midst of a 5 year bull run…one of the strongest ever…and given the slow economic recovery that Republicans have engineered there is no reason to expect it to slow down much anytime soon.
    The S&P just cleared 2000 for the first time ever. The Dow has been around 17,000 consistently all summer. The market has more than doubled since March ’09…just after Obama took office and the stimulus stopped the Bush Economic Death Spiral (BEDS).
    And your stocks are keeping up with inflation…which is 2% as of July 2014?
    Are you lying…or stupid?

    Of course, the new taxes Obama has imposed with his congressional minions, wipes that out and then some.

    What new taxes are those?

  57. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I’m a big believer in dealing with little threats before they can become big threats.

    So you are getting the professional mental health attention you need?
    That’s good to hear.
    Obamacare? Or Medicaid expansion?

  58. Slugger says:

    Back to Congress and making war. In my lifetime, the US has been in plenty of conflicts sometimes just dropping a few bombs and sometimes big time invasions. There have no declarations of war; I suppose that the AUMF was in effect a declaration of war. A declaration of war debate would be clarifying for the American people. It would force politicians to take a stance which is something they seem to avoid in order to have it both ways on issues. As things stand now, no matter what decision Obama takes, he will be opposed by Monday morning quarterbacks.
    Alternatively, the US could just declare war on the whole world and eliminate the institutional barriers to the policies the last eight presidents have been following.

  59. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:

    My stocks are about keeping up with inflation. almost.

    Seriously….it’s one thing to be clueless about politics…it’s something else to be clueless about your money.
    Please…be smart and take the advice of Warren Buffett:

    I have good news for these non-professionals: The typical investor doesn’t need this skill. In aggregate, American business has done wonderfully over time and will continue to do so (though, most assuredly, in unpredictable fits and starts). In the 20th Century, the Dow Jones Industrials index advanced from 66 to 11,497, paying a rising stream of dividends to boot. The 21st Century will witness further gains, almost certain to be substantial. The goal of the non-professional should not be to pick winners – neither he nor his “helpers” can do
    that – but should rather be to own a cross-section of businesses that in aggregate are bound to do well. A low-cost S&P 500 index fund will achieve this goal.

    What I advise here is essentially identical to certain instructions I’ve laid out in my will. One bequest provides that cash will be delivered to a trustee for my wife’s benefit. (I have to use cash for individual bequests, because all of my Berkshire shares will be fully distributed to
    certain philanthropic organizations over the ten years following the closing of my estate.) My advice to the trustee could not be more simple: Put 10% of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low-cost S&P 500 index fund. (I suggest Vanguard’s.) I believe the trust’s long-term results from this policy will be superior to those attained by most investors – whether pension funds, institutions or individuals – who employ high-fee managers.

  60. Joel says:

    I tentatively supported the earlier air strikes, but going to Syria seems like a really bad idea.

    Have we forgotten what happened in Cambodia, when Nixon bombed North Vietnamese bases there? We did little to help with the war effort in Vietnam, killed lots of civilians, and helped facilitate Pol Pot’s rise by increasing the population’s resentment against the west. The situation here isn’t exactly the same, but there are enough parallels to be disturbing.

  61. pylon says:

    The AUMF was an incredibly blank cheque at the time, and was misused by Bush (I am of the opinion that it did not actually authorize the invasion – a huge condition was placed on it which wasn’t met). It remains as blank today.

    In fact, I’d say the AUMF probably authorizes actions against ISIS way more than against Saddam Hussein.

  62. Eric Florack says:

    @C. Clavin: His advi=e, or what he does?
    and why is it that you guys are off on this meme already? Is it because you have nothing else to go on?
    wasnt it the usual lefists who complained that the markets ups and down had no connection to main street?

    um. yeah.

  63. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Look, man…I’m trying to help you.
    You’re the one complaining about your complete failure at personal economics. 2% stock growth in a 5 year bear market? Pathetic.

    By the way…still waiting for an explanation of the tax increases affecting you due to Obama.

  64. Eric Florack says:

    sure, you are, C. Clavin By the way, with all the debt and printing money, how do you propose to deal with the inflation?

    By the way, still waiting for you to explain your apparent turnaround on the social value of Wall St.

  65. rudderpedals says:

    A message for Eric

    There is noooo inflationary

  66. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:

    how do you propose to deal with the inflation?

    What inflation? 2%? I’m more concerned about de-inflation…although that threat is waining. You wing-nuts have been screaming about inflation for years. Where is it? The same place as the growth due to tax cuts and shrinking government…NON-EXISTENT.
    As for the “social value” of Wall Street…you complained about your stock value. I responded that your stock picking acumen is the equivalent of your political knowledge…NON-EXISTENT. I will say that a very healthy 401K today makes me feel much better than it did at the end of the Bush Administration when it was in a death spiral like the rest of the economy.

  67. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I was right. @gVOR08: It is the inflation in his head.@Eric Florack: The inflation his Conservative Common Sense ™ says must be there.

  68. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    with all the debt

    You mean the debt that has been plummeting for years?

  69. Tyrell says:

    @C. Clavin: inflation nonexistent ? Maybe on electonics, fishing rods, or golf carts. But every time a certain family member comes back from the grocery store, I get an earful. I hear this from a lot of people. Even the grocery store manager is bewildered by the rising food prices. I did some figuring. A weeks worth of groceries of groceries two years ago: $180, Last week: $260. Some specifics: Doritos large bag: $3.88 large bag, was $1.88 in 2012. 2 liter soft drink: $1.79, was $1. Large candy bar: $1.75, was $1. How about building supplies? 2 delta faucet washers $2.89, three years ago $ 1 or less. The price of bacon and beef are going way up. Cup of coffee: $1 for a small cup – insane! Cupcakes: price has gone up, size has gone down. That ‘s what gets you : price goes up, and the container size goes down: pay more and get less. The middle class working people are getting it both ways, coming and going! We are getting gouged. Back in the 70’s inflation took off. I tried to research the causes: how and where did it all start? I got no where. Everyone blamed it on their suppliers. Someone had to be causing it.
    So don’t pull this no inflation stuff. I know some grocery shoppers who are mad as h….. and they are not going to take it any more!
    Movie theater prices – let’s not go there today. I am already so out of sorts just thinking about grocery prices I could roll in the floor and cry!! Everything is going up except our paychecks.
    Too much month and not enough pay check.

  70. wr says:

    @C. Clavin: I think when Florack refers to his “stocks,” he means the shed full of surivival rations he’s got out past the junked cars on his back lawn.

  71. wr says:

    @Tyrell: You know, Tyrrell, if you started buying fresh fruits and vegetables instead of Doritos, soft drinks and candy bars, not only would you feel better, you might start thinking more clearly.

    And just for the record, LBJ didn’t keep troops in Viet Nam because of any great moral concern for Asia. As MacNamara has admitted, the entire administration knew it was a lost cause, but they kept sending young men to die because they were afraid of being called soft on Communism. And while in your head he would have sailed to re-election, there was great doubt that he could even get his party’s nomination in 68 — which is a major reason he decided against running.

  72. Just Another Ex-Republican says:


    While I agree with you a lot more than your opponents (who I basically rarely even read anymore and never bother responding to because facts rarely seem to influence them), in this you’re wrong. The annual *deficit* has been dropping rapidly, the total *debt* is still rising. The inability of the American public to keep the difference straight is one of the reasons I’m an ex-Republican (thanks Bush Jr).

  73. Tyrell says:

    @wr: Okay, good points all around. Back then no president dare have the labels “soft on communism” or “lost a war”. The domino.theory wss in full effect and supported by most politicians and leaders, as was the war.
    I do like vegetables but I am not about to pay over 50¢ a pound for tomatoes. I remember many a time getting them 3 lb for a dollar.

  74. Pharoah Narim says:

    ISIS is nothing but an artificially created boogie man. They couldn’t even hold a strategic dam they took against Kurdish forces and minimal US air strikes. Seriously, how is a military force with no air power, no armor, and no navy an international threat? The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the powers that be feel the American public is so gullible that they can brazenly dress up a few shock videos and file footage to conjure up the next threat to line the pockets of defense contractors.