Obama: I Need No Congressional Approval To Go Back To War In Iraq

President_Barack_Obama220px-B-2_spirit_bombingWe have been discussing the growing concerns over President Barack Obama’s series of unilateral actions in ordering agencies not to enforce law, effectively rewriting laws, and moving hundreds of millions of dollars from appropriated purposes to areas of his choosing. One of the greatest concerns has been his unchecked authority asserted in the national security area. I previously represented members of Congress in challenging Obama’s intervention in the Libyan civil war without a declaration from Congress. In the case, President Obama insisted that he alone determines what is a war and therefore when he needs a declaration. Since the court would not recognize standing to challenge the war, it left Obama free to engage in war operations in any country of his choosing. As with his approach in Libya, Syria and other combat operations, President Obama declared this week that he does not need any approval or even consultation with Congress if he decides to commit us again to war again in Iraq.

As in the past, Democrats are not just silent but actually applauding the circumvention of Congress — a precedent that will likely come back to haunt them if the next president is a Republican. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said that the President does not need congressional approval to do go back into combat and then matter-of-factly that in their brief conversation, the President “did not give us an array of actions he was planning to take.”

While we do not expect combat troops on the ground, the White House appears to be exploring an intervention with air power and possible special forces. The White House simply told Congress and the public to trust their uber president: “Any action that he might contemplate when it comes to … the use of military force will be to deal with the immediate and medium-term threat posed by ISIL.”

I recently testified (here and here and here) and wrote a column on President Obama’s increasing circumvention of Congress in negating or suspending U.S. laws. Obama has repeatedly suspended provisions of the health care law and made unilateral changes that were previously rejected by Congress. He has also moved hundreds of millions from one part of the Act to other parts without congressional approval. Now, his administration is reportedly changing key provisions of the ACA to potentially make billions of dollars available to the insurance industry in a move that was never debated, let alone approved, by the legislative branch. I just ran another column this month listing such incidents of executive over-reach that ideally would have included this potentially huge commitment under Obama’s claimed discretionary authority.

This week I debated the head of the Brennan Center at New York University on Obama’s unilateral actions and the dangers that they pose on the PBS program Newshour. While my co-guest repeatedly insisted that he is “not troubled” by the concentration of authority in the presidency, I again believe that Democrats will long regret that they support the rise of this uber presidency:

357 thoughts on “Obama: I Need No Congressional Approval To Go Back To War In Iraq”

  1. What leejcaroll and RTC said about Krauthamer’s independence. He makes his money by singing the corporate and party tune.

  2. leejcaroll: “In quickly scanning the document it appears the President retains the authority.”

    Thanks for posting the last US-Iraq SOFA. It expired per Article 30, so Article 27 is dead, too. It answers my question about whether the older UNSC resolutions for securing Iraq are still live. They’re not.

    As far as I know, PL 102-1 and PL 107-243 are still live, so if the UNSC passes a new resolution on Iraq, Obama could enforce it. Otherwise, there’s no bilateral security agreement and no UNSC resolutions to enforce. PL 107-243 also covers threat “by” Iraq, but I don’t think the current crisis qualifies as “by” Iraq. If ISIS is linked to al Qaeda, that might be enough for PL 107-40. Obama could react to an attack by ISIS against the US, territory, possession, or armed forces or a threat by ISIS against the US.

  3. Schulte: Krauthammer is a complete and total idiot, given to pushing any untruth that he paid to ladle out. He’s in charge of serving the kool-aid. He specializes in making the most idiotic claim sound intelligent.

    After his performance of deception in the leadup to the Iraq war, he has utterly no credibility.

  4. Jim22: I have my doubts about your claims of being an engineer; I thinkl it’s your Costanza dream degree.

    At any rate, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that there is little if anything safe about fracking.

    It consumes massive amounts of water, draining rivers and lakes and lowering water tables, and pollutes the water supplies for drinking and agricultural uses. The chemicals used for fracking are so highly toxic that an emergency room nurse in California nearly died from merely handling the clothes of an injured worker. The attending ER physician was refused any information about the chemicals in use at the facility even as his nurse lay dieing because they were considered proprietary trade secrets.

    It also causes environmental degradation caused by mining operations to satisfy the increasing demand for sand.

    It’s now also becoming apparent that fracking causes in movements in the geological structure that result in earthquakes. This was first noticed in Britain and has been experienced here in the Midwest.

  5. David: “I’m not excusing Republicans on this, but Democrats have indeed voted against bills passed by the House that would have stopped oil subsidies.”

    It’s not that you’re explicitly excusing Republicans, you’re placing blame completely on Democrats (see our earlier comments).

  6. Davidm

    I stand corrected.

    Solar panel systems use batteries at night.

    How do they work under clouds?

    More to the point, do they completely sever their connection to the grid or do they, ultimately, rely on it and absolutely require that it be constantly available and on call for immediate “on demand” service at any time 24/7/365?

    1. John – some systems for solar are stand alone, some continue to hook to the grid where they sell back extra power and draw power as needed. Arizona is now charging a monthly meter fee to these customers.

  7. Fix: … as the terrorists resurged in the degenationdegeneration of the Arab Spring.

  8. TheSaucyMugwump,

    Sure enough there’s plenty of growling around Iraq.

    It wasn’t the US troops whose SOP was to assassinate, mass-murder, and torture Iraqis. The US troops were the ones doing their best to defend Iraq and protect the Iraqi people from the terrorist onslaught.

    How bad were the terrorists? Saddam set the bar repressing the Iraqi people. Don’t forget that the provocative, invasive, destructive, and expensive no-fly zone wasn’t enforcing weapons obligations. One of the triggers for OIF was Saddam’s noncompliance with UNSC Res 688. That the terrorists could compete with Saddam’s tyranny, let alone arguably even surpass Saddam’s abuse of the Iraqi people, is Exhibit A for why our troops were necessary to secure Iraq from future terrorist invasion, especially as the terrorists resurged in the degenation of the Arab Spring. I mean, these are people who view the Taliban as heroes and role models.

    When choosing what’s better for the Iraqi people between the terrorists and Saddam, the correct answer is neither. The correct answer is the Iraq where “we see the promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy. The Iraqi people have rejected the perils of political violence in favor of a democratic process” (Obama).

    The Iraq that is a “sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq that can act as a force for moderation” (State Dept), “poised to play a key role in the region” (Obama) can someday be the key to curing a region that is forced to choose between autocratic tyrants and terrorists. But until the day comes that Iraq is strong enough to compete, Iraq must be protected from those same malignant forces that would kill that Iraq in its infancy.

    Besides responsibility, honor, and decency, it was for the humanity-course-changing possibility of that Iraq that President Bush invested all of that American blood and treasure in the post-war peace operations in Iraq.

    “Research how many troops we had in Europe after WWI.”

    WW1 wasn’t our show. In elementary school, we learn that when it was our show in WW2, we managed things differently.

  9. Eric wrote “Iraq was stabilized at the point we left”

    If that’s your definition of stable, then you and I speak different languages.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/9941309/Iraq-war-anniversary-Iraqis-would-be-better-off-under-Saddam-says-Andrew-Gilligan.html

    “Post-war peace operations normally take a long time, longer than 8 years anyway”

    Nonsense. If the Soviet bear had not started growling, we would have brought home almost all U.S. troops in Europe after WWII. Research how many troops we had in Europe after WWI.

  10. TheSaucyMugwump: “Sure, the world’s only example of a stable country racked by regular bombngs.”

    Iraq was stabilized at the point we left, and before the terrorists resurged in Libya and Syria. Unfortunately, Iraq happens to be very important to the terrorists’ plans. The central geopolitical and cultural position of Iraq makes it very important to us, too. Iraq is a prize that makes a difference beyond its borders.

    As Obama said in 2011, “Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress”. As stated on the US embassy in Baghdad website, “we now have the opportunity to see Iraq emerge as a strategic partner in a tumultuous region. A sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq that can act as a force for moderation is profoundly in the national security interests of the United States”.

    “If we won the war, then we would not need 20,000 troops there. We have troops in South Korea because no peace treaty was ever signed and the DPRK kills a few ROK and U.S. soldiers from time to time.”

    Well yeah, Iraq is surrounded by danger, too. Part of winning a war is securing the peace. Whether it’s Korea or the erstwhile Confederate States of America, we’ve traditionally retained enough troops in the post-war to guard against both ‘insurgent’ and surrounding dangers while facilitating the host nation’s post-war development. Post-war peace operations normally take a long time, longer than 8 years anyway. We still have troops in Germany and Japan as well as Korea.

  11. Paul Krauthammers commentary is good because he is an archconservative but Juan Williams is not because you say he is a liberal and it was an “opinion piece” so doesn’t carry weight. Funny how if it agrees with you it is legit, Krauthammer, and if not it is not legit. And btw, Williams is right. The insurance companies knew they were writing policies that were not CA compliant.

    1. leejcaroll – I took you to task on Juan William because you took his column to represent all of Fox News and did not mention it was an opinion piece. I prefaced the Krauthammer article by telling you who it was.

  12. Paul wrote “Krauthammer has an excellent commentary”

    K-man hates Obama and always has. He’s as neutral as Arianna Huffington on the other side.

    K-man wrote “A sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq”

    Sure, the world’s only example of a stable country racked by regular bombings.

    K-man wrote “David Petraeus had won the war … [Obama] offered to leave about 3,000 to 5,000 troops, a ridiculous number. U.S. commanders said they needed nearly 20,000. (We have 28,500 in South Korea and 38,000 in Japan to this day.)”

    If we won the war, then we would not need 20,000 troops there. We have troops in South Korea because no peace treaty was ever signed and the DPRK kills a few ROK and U.S. soldiers from time to time.

    1. saucy – an how many troops do we have in Germany? According to International Law you are required to stabilize a country before you leave it. I am not sure Iraq would have passed a ‘stress test’ the Obama administration was so fond of passing out.

  13. swarthmoremom wrote “Jim22, I don’t thinking I posted anything about fracking recently”

    Jimbo is confused between “swarthmoremom” and “TheSaucyMugwump.” The rest of us know you are the one and only true SWM.

  14. (so strange I have tried numerous times to post part of the SOFA that appears to give the president the authority to this date to act but it refuses to take it, and yet it is taking other things I post. Very weird.)

    1. leejcaroll – that was noted liberal Juan Williams writing at Fox News about Obamacare. That is an opinion piece not the opinion of Fox News. Please don’t tell me you think Juan Williams is conservative?

  15. Jim22 Have we had an accident here? is your question and rationale How many American lives have been lost due to nuclear power is a ridiculous question. How many women have lost their lives from being DES babies? There were no problems with it when it was being given. It was the next generation that developed fast growing fatal vaginal cancers. Hey DES is fine, no one has died from it so let’s continue to use it. Nuclear is fine. no accidents in the US so let’s ignore that we already have proof that accidents and horrendous ones at that can occur. We have not seen the havoc that the exposure will do to those in Japan.

  16. Bob, Esq. wrote “cites the release of five Taliban combatants in a trade for captive U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl”

    I think Obama is a pathetic president, but that is pure looney-tunes, un-American thinking. We do not leave soldiers behind. The U.S. military has held this policy since forever. Yes, Bergdahl deserted and appears to have the brains of an empty dunce cap, but we bring our POWs home and, whenever possible, our dead. Everyone comes home.

    “Obama’s statement that people could keep insurance companies, and recent EPA regulations on power plants”

    “The President … shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”? I think not.

    Now if they had cited Obama’s transfer of hundreds of billions of dollars to Wall Street banks, they would have a point. Of course, they’d have to indict ‘W’ too.

  17. Jim22 wrote “You never answered me, do you know what an LFTR reactor is?”

    You really should try reading someone’s entire comment before passing judgment. I wrote “the method of fueling,” which should have given you a hint that I understood the difference between a reactor which uses conventional fuel rods and one which uses thorium in a fluoride-based liquid, though “liquid” does not quite do it justice.

    And that has nothing at all to do with the problems of Fukushima Daiichi, which worsened because the backup power generation equipment was installed below the expected water surge level. That was my original point. I am not anti-nuclear; I am opposed to poor engineering practices.

    “When did I call you a liberal?”

    Okay, I’ll spell it out for you: J-A-N-E F-O-N-D-A.

    “I also have a geology degree … Can you point to one true case where fracking has caused a ground water problem?”

    Wow, you have a geology degree and yet you do not appreciate the fact that liquids take a very long time to percolate through sandstone?

    And have you seen the YouTube videos where people light the gas being emitted from their faucets?

    We won’t see contaminated aquifers for years, but then much of the country between the Missouri River and the Pacific Coast will be partially devoid of people because there will be no uncontaminated groundwater; only cities lying next to rivers will survive. And Nebraska, Kansas, and other areas grow a lot of our food.

    It’s a darn good thing that North Dakota, a/k/a fracking-central, does not lie over the Ogallala Aquifer.

    You really need to read John Wesley Powell’s “Report on the Lands of the Arid Regions of the United States.” It’s still relevant. He was the second director of the USGS.

Comments are closed.