President Obama has requested that Congress authorize the use of military force against ISIS. There’s a lot of argument going on right now about the specific language of the AUMF. It’s an irrelevant side show. Congress shouldn’t pass it, no matter the language.
Both the left and the right in American politics fundamentally misunderstand ISIS but for completely different reasons. The left believes that ISIS poses us no threat. They are blinded by ideology that simply doesn’t match up with the real world. ISIS most definitely poses a threat to the western world. The right understands that ISIS is a threat but wants to face it with the same “strategies” – or lack thereof – that have already failed us in the middle east.
First and foremost, we have no defined objective in our fight against ISIS. What are we actually trying to accomplish with military strikes? “Stop ISIS” is all I ever hear. OK, fine. But what does that actually mean? How are we going to do stop them? What does “stopping ISIS” even mean? Containment? Eliminate their fledgling empire?
Forget trying to figure out how – we don’t even know what we want to accomplish.
And that leads to the second point. Are we prepared to invade the middle east again, spend another decade or more with boots on the ground, and completely overthrow what looks to be a de facto empire forming (whether we admit it or not)? No, the American people aren’t ready to commit to this.
The closest thing to a strategy that I’ve heard is “fight them over there so that we don’t have to fight them here.” This is wrong for two reasons. First, it’s a tactic – not a strategy. I say again – how are we going to actually stop them? Second, it’s not what will actually happen in reality. Without a defined objective and a plan to accomplish it, we will get sucked into a war of attrition that will only benefit ISIS and its recruiting while depleting our own capability to fight them when we’re actually ready to fight.
Preserve our energy, preserve our resources and most importantly, preserve the lives of the young men who always pay the ultimate price. Let ISIS exhaust itself, let it show itself for the true threat that it is, and we’ll face it with allies behind us – and, more importantly, with the American people fully behind it.
Don’t pass the AUMF.
[And don’t for a minute pretend that this post changes anything. We all know that it will pass anyway.]
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