In the summer of 2014, a group known as ISIS was reported to have acquired, either by force or payment, roughly forty Western journalists & aid workers.
ISIS (Daash, Dulat al-Islam fi al-Iraq wal-Sham) was also reported to be threatening genocide against a group known as the Yazidi. Daash believed the Yazidi to be devil worshippers, and were forcing them to convert or die. Tens of thousands of Yazidi fled atop Mount Sinjar, and were dying from lack of sustenance.
And whom emerged from the sky to answer the prayers of the Yazidi? Good ole Uncle Sam, that’s who. Uncle Sam came to air-drop aid for a dying people. Unfortunately, food and water didn’t change their being trapped on a mountain, with certain death lurking below. So, President Obama announced that the US would begin air attacks on the Daash fighters at the foot of the mountain, so that the Yazidi could flee to safety in neighboring Syria.
And that, folks, is what it means to be a superpower. This is what superiority is supposed to look like.
Alas, Obama thwarted any goodwill earned by helping the Yazidi, by using their plight as cover for his broader mission. In the very same speech Obama said ‘America is coming to help’ the Yazidi, he also announced that the US would be launching additional strikes against Daash apart from the mission to save the Yazidi.
We attacked them. Not just to save the Yazidi, we attacked them under the guise of helping the Yazidi. They were but a pawn.
In response, American journalist James Foley was executed. Daash wanted a $132 million ransom for Foley. The US does not negotiate with terrorists*, and the Foley family was advised that paying ransom equates to funding terrorism. So he was beheaded, and the US was warned that there would be further beheadings should the US continue air strikes against them. Which we did. And they did. Steven Sotloff was beheaded next.
At which point, the US media went into a state of hysteria from which they‘ve yet to escape.
Fear sells. War sells. War equals ratings. Ratings equal ad revenue. US media, from television networks and newspapers, from movie studios to books and magazines – it’s all owned by six mega-media conglomerates. And they’re hungry. They get fed when we get scared. And boy are we good at being scared. (We have an entire political party in this country that is based upon a perpetual state of fear.)
So, on September 10th, 2014, Obama gave address which had the distinct look and feel of a war declaration. We would be launching attacks against Daash, in an effort to ‘degrade and destroy’ them. However, he also assured us that Daash posed no imminent threat, and that there would be no boots-on-the-ground.
Why the obfuscation? (Obamafuscation?) As a constitutional scholar, Obama was well aware that an official declaration of war would put him on the clock. The War Powers Act authorizes the executive to deploy military force on an emergency basis, but demands the Congress formally & affirmatively approve and deployment beyond 60 days. Sixty days from September 10th is roughly a week after the midterm elections.
Obama doesn’t want to be on that clock. He was turned down last time he asked Congress for permission to go into Syria. Not all Congressfolk are nincompoops, some of them remember that Hillary lost to Obama because of how she voted on Iraq.
Speaker Boehner has said that the House doesn’t plan to vote until next year. In fact, Boehner called upon Obama to call upon Boehner to call for a vote. Leader Reid neither seems to have any inclination to hold a vote any time soon. Those 60 days will be long-passed come 2015.
What’s a president to do? Lie and obfuscate.
There’s no immediate threat, and there won’t be ground troops. We’re going to war, but not call it war.
For two days. Day-and-a-half. On September 12, White House surrogates were sat in front of cameras and microphones to drone on the brand new talking point: We’re at war with ISIL, in the same way that we are at war with al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda? The president said ISIL. Apparently, Obama and his legal team have determined that the 2001,3 Authorization(s) for Use of Military Force in Iraq and Afghanistan respectively, were broad enough to authorize force in Syria over a decade later. Oh by the way, the same AUMF this same President said just last year should be repealed. Funny that.
And more importantly, since when do underlings get to declare war? Especially against a group that the president himself poses no immediate threat to the homeland?
Oh, don’t worry your pretty little head about the Constitution. There was yet another twist: Khorasan. Dun-dun-dun.
A group which no one had ever heard of. A group which no one in Syria had ever heard of. Khorasan was the new worst of the worst. Even more worse that the other worst of the worst: ISIS. Which was even worse than the previous worst of the worst: Al-Qaeda.
Khorasan was supposedly an elite offshoot whom were plotting an imminent attack on the homeland.
Of course they were. Hindquarters legally covered.
Then miraculously, the leader of Khorasan was killed seemingly the next day. Threat averted. Phew, that was a close one. Thanks Obama!
In the weeks following, we learned that Khorasan is an ancient term, which US intelligence used generically. We also heard that if there was an actual Khorasan group, their threat was simply aspirational, they had no imminent plans on the homeland. Other reports told of a rogue French agent, whose name was found on a list of 13 individuals, under the heading of Khorasan. Regardless, either the bad, bad boogeymen simply didn’t like us, or a single rogue agent was on the loose, hence legal basis for war in Syria. See how that works?
Maybe Obama doesn’t care about traveling to Switzerland, but he needs to be concerned about his job security.
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) lost his primary. He won’t be returning to Congress in 2015. He can finally afford to tell the truth.
“A lot of people would like to stay on the sideline and say, ‘Just bomb the place and tell us about it later.’ It’s an election year. A lot of Democrats don’t know how it would play in their party, and Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.”
Hear that Obama?
Those 60 days will pass. The election will pass. More specifically, those 60 days will be up a week after the mid-term elections. Those in the know expect Mitch McConnell will be Majority Leader come January. Sending us to war on shaky legal grounds, with the prospect of the GOP controlling both the Upper and Lower Chambers in a few months? The moment anything goes awry in Syria, the Republicans will pounce. Democrats will want Hillary to come fund-raise for them on the campaign trail, and Hillary will be running against Obama nearly as much as against the republican nominee. The democrats won’t save him.
Obama is playing a dangerous game.