This was beginning to sound too familiar. A president is calling for a new war based on his inherent authority while members of Congress warn that it is war or death for America. However, former NSA director (and my neighbor) Michael Hayden added a new element: explaining that air power is like “casual sex” and that we need greater commitment than the military equivalent to a one night stand. Of course, this one night stand is expected to last months and cost billions. President Obama has already asked for $500 million to just arm Syrian rebels despite the fact that we are now facing our own weaponry in the hands of ISIS (captured from our past supply of rebels and the Iraqi military). Sort of like Warren Zevon’s song to send “Lawyers, Guns, and Money” except we are leaving the lawyers behind on this one.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told the American people that the choice is simple in going to war:
“[T]hey’re intending to come here. So, I will not let this president suggest to the American people we can outsource our security and this is not about our safety. There is no way in hell you can form an army on the ground to go into Syria, to destroy ISIL without a substantial American component. And to destroy ISIL, you have to kill or capture their leaders, take the territory they hold back, cut off their financing and destroy their capability to regenerate. . . . This is a war we’re fighting, it is not a counterterrorism operation! This is not Somalia; this is not Yemen; this is a turning point in the war on terror. Our strategy will fail yet again. This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.”
Graham was heavily ridiculed for his drumbeat to war in Iraq over the non-exist WMDs and previously called for war against Iran.
Graham however at least portrayed the war in relatively platonic terms. Former NSA Director Michael Hayden who was tied to both the unlawful torture and surveillance programs under the Bush Administration compared the U.S. air strikes as nothing more than enjoyable but meaningless “casual sex”:
“The reliance on air power has all of the attraction of casual sex: It seems to offer gratification but with little commitment. We need to be wary of a strategy that puts emphasis on air power and air power alone.”
No first base for Hayden on this date. Of course, given our continuing and perpetual military engagements, we are under Hayden’s terms something of a promiscuous power. Hayden clearly wants more of a commitment and long-term relationship. Something like . . . well . . . Iraq.
In the meantime, dating on Hayden’s term is not cheap. We are about to commit an initial half a billion dollars to just arming Syrian rebels — the same area where ISIS emerged with U.S. weapons to become the current menace. This is a collateral cost and does not include our direct military costs.
However, Obama insists that he does not need anyone’s approval to launch such a war as previously discussed. In a bizarre twist however the Administration is arguing that the President can always rely on Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which authorized attacks against Al Qaeda and those who “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups. The problem is that that authorization occurred 13 years ago and the Islamic State happens to be the moral enemy of Al Qaeda at this point. Thus, Obama is claiming that he is fighting Al Qaeda by waging war on its enemy (while of course claiming that he needs for such authorization).
Perhaps Hayden is right. War, like dating, is just too confusing, too expensive, and just a bit dangerous.