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President Obama, after announcing last September his intention to launch airstrikes against the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) – a terrorist organization that has recently come into the crosshairs of the United States for beheading American aid workers and journalists in the Middle East – has submitted a draft resolution on February 11 to Congress seeking a three-year Authorization of Use of Military force (AUMF) against ISIS.
The President, an opponent of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, stated in a letter to Congress that his Administration’s draft AUMF would not call for the long-term ground deployment of U.S. military forces similar to those in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said that it should be up to local forces to directly engage ISIS in such a manner. This quest for new war powers, however, was met with dissent from both sides of the aisle. Win Without War, a progressive organization against the U.S.’s purported overuse of military force in their foreign policy, condemned Obama’s seeking an AUMF in a statement emphasizing the need for a non-militaristic solution.
We strongly urge Congress to reject the pursuit of a military solution to a conflict that does not have one […] American bombs have been falling on the Middle East for decades and they have only served to destabilize the region and prolong conflicts. We must recognize that no Congressional action will suddenly end the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. (qt. in Taintor)
Also against the AUMF, Rick Santorum, a former Senator from Pennsylvania, criticized President Obama’s proposal as being too limited in scope, stating that the U.S. could not effectively engage ISIS with the restrictions the president was placing on the military in his proposal (Taintor).
This new push for U.S. involvement came after the news that Kayla Mueller, an American aid worker who had been taken hostage by ISIS in August of 2013, had been killed in a coalition airstrike in Syria. Mueller, who had previously done humanitarian work in India, Israel, Palestine, and Turkey, was captured leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria. President Obama, who had previously stated that the U.S. was utilizing all available to rescue Mueller, offered his condolences to her family, promising retribution. “No matter how long it takes, the United States will find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible for Kayla’s captivity and death,” (qt. in Vinograd). Kayla was believed to be the last American hostage held by ISIS after the terrorist group had beheaded three others not too long after a failed rescue attempt carried out by U.S. Army Delta Force soldiers. Official reports stated that several ISIS combatants were killed in the operation, but the hostages were never found (Vinograd).
A month later, the U.S. was leading a coalition of the willing in the fight against ISIS in Iraq alongside Iraqi and Iranian troops. Officials stated that after receiving a formal request for American military support from the Iraqi government, U.S. airstrikes began almost immediately. The Iraqi military had wanted to engage the ISIS forces in Tikrit, the hometown of former leader Saddam Hussein, and take back the city from ISIS control without informing the U.S.; but they, unfortunately, fell short in their objective. Iraqi President Fouad Massoum stated, “The Iraqi government along with residents of the area wanted an active contribution from the international coalition,” in their quest to defeat and demoralize the terrorist group, (qt. in Youssef). After a long-standing policy that the U.S. would not collaborate with the Iranian military, though now it seems the two have a common enemy. As of March 15, 2015, the U.S. had conducted 5,314 airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq, though local militias in Iraq have begun to protest the expansion of U.S. involvement in the fight (Youssef).
Taintor, David. “Obama Asks for New War Powers: ISIS Is ‘going to Lose'” Msnbc.com. NBC News Digital, 11 Feb. 2015. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.
Vinograd, Cassandra. “American ISIS Hostage Kayla Mueller Is Dead, Family Says.” MSNBC. 2 Feb. 2015. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.
Youssef, Nancy. “U.S. Backs Iran With Airstrikes Against ISIS.” The Daily Beast. 25 Mar. 2015. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.