The Obama Administration’s foreign policy has from the start been plagued by a near-fatal dose of mixed messaging regarding the actions of our enemies, our mission in the Middle East, and the place the American military should hold in the context of the global economy. Late last year, members of Congress lashed out against the Administration over the Executive’s inability to define exactly what we were doing in the Middle East, and what we should be doing to prepare for future missions.
Now, we may finally receive some answers.
In a meeting with Congressional leadership today, President Obama indicated that he’s ready to propose terms authorizing U.S. military force against Islamic State. He’s been having this conversation with the leadership since November, but this is the first time he’s even come close to showing his hand.
“A good starting place is for him to tell us what he wants,” McConnell of Kentucky told reporters after the meeting.
A debate over efforts to defeat Islamic State would reopen tension over the president’s authority to conduct military operations and uneasiness among some lawmakers — mostly Obama’s fellow Democrats — about being drawn into open-ended conflicts and ground combat.
Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, told reporters after today’s meeting at the White House that the president’s statement came as “a little bit of a surprise.”
“I think that’s helpful because we’ve been trying to get him to come up with the plan and show a little bit of what his strategy is going to be,” the senator said.
Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said he believes Obama “is going to make some proposal” on an authorization for use of military force.
Much of the White House’s messaging problem when it comes to international terrorism comes down to its insistence on forcing every issue though the politically correct sausage grinder. Republican leadership, however, has taken steps to combat that optic by introducing new legislation that would fund Homeland Security to the tune of $40 billion. They’re also calling out the Administration for its refusal to acknowledge the existence of a “war on terror” that has been raging for over a decade.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who is now the Senate Majority Whip, criticized President Obama for focusing on “political correctness” instead of talking tough against terrorism.
“We know that, for example, when Major Nidal Hasan made his attack at Fort Hood, they called that workplace violence,” Cornyn said, referring to the deadly 2009 shooting in Texas. “And they are calling the war on terror ‘overseas contingency operations.’ We need to call it what it is. Because that’s the first step to actually dealing with it on a realistic basis.”
Right now, the priority shouldn’t be to have a perfect policy out of the gate; if it’s coming from Obama, it’s not going to be amazing, and I doubt it will be realistic in the context of actual terrorists wanting to murder people. But once he opens the jar of worms, Republicans in Congress can work with what they’re given—even if that means ripping it up and starting over.
Senator McConnell is right—just tell us what you want, man! This is a non-starter unless Obama, Kerry, and other advisors give the Congress some idea of what it is they actually want the optic for this to be; because right now, the only signal the world is getting is that America is no longer to be taken seriously in the international theater.DONATE
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