Obama Asks Congress To Declare War On Islamic State — Or DID He?

Did President Barack Obama ask Congress to declare to declare war on the terrorist-driven Islamic State?

Well, it depends on one’s interpretation of the word “ask”.

According to reports, President Obama sent Congress an Authorization for the Use of Military Force request.

However, there’s a catch: The request sent to Congress is, in fact, retroactive.

Obama asked for permission to use military force several months after the United States began to bomb ISIS.

In actuality, President Barack Obama has the right to go after the Islamic State thanks in large part to the sweeping legislation put together by Congress in 2001.

It was the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force that allowed for the controversial (and costly) invasion of Iraq.

But the retroactively proposed AUMF is an apparent attempt by Obama to undo the reactive and outdated measures that occurred under the Bush Administration.

The new AUMF would limit the president’s military powers, a decision actively questioned by Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona. McCain thinks it’s “bizarre” that the president would allow Congress to limit his role as Commander-In-Chief.

Obama, who will be speaking about the move to formally request a declaration of war later today, has apparently taken this step in an effort to ensure any further military response against ISIS will have the full bipartisan support of Congress.

The new measures will also narrow the manner in which the US Military acts. Instead of much of the attack being concentrated on the ground, it’s believed that Obama will approve the use of mainly airstrikes against the Islamic State. Ground support would be somewhat limited.

The move strongly reflects the sentiment of a number of Americans polled about how best to attack the Islamic State.

A January/February AP-GfK poll found that the majority (58 percent) of those polled strongly supported air strikes against ISIS by the United States. Only 31 percent approved of the use of ground forces by the Obama administration.

Barack Obama is hoping for both parties to support his new measures. However, in an unusual turn of events, the president may find most of his support for this formal declaration comes from the Republicans.

The Democrats, recalling the negative effect of the Iraq war on the US economy and world standing, are hesitant to follow Obama into what they worry could be another military mistake.

Senate Minority Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois is but one of a number Democratic leaders questioning the language of Obama’s proposal.

“What does it mean? How long, how big, is ‘enduring’? ‘Offensive,’ what’s ‘offensive’?’ That, to me, is the crux of our debate.”

“We have some legitimate questions as to whether we open this up with a loophole that could lead to another major war.”

Should Obama have asked Congress to declare war on ISIS? Do you think a serious military investment in fighting the Islamic State and its allies will prove a costly error?

[Image Credit: Pool/Getty Images]