Monday, February 23, 2015

Reject Obama's Proposed Joint Resolution

President Obama’s proposed Joint Resolution to deal with ISIL is a fraud. What it does is:

- Give prestige and recognizes unacceptable aspirations to the terrorists,
- Limit where and how we will use force,
- Expires quickly,
- Repeals the AUMF.  

What it says it will do is to authorize limited military force against the terrorist organization that calls itself ISIL.

In intellectual isolation, that sounds like a noble cause. To believe it, is to ignore the fact that the US military has been conducting limited force actions against various terrorists organizations for more than thirteen years. Along the way, there have been ups and downs.

After the infamous suicide terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the 107th Congress passed the Joint Resolution known as Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

The AUMF is a piece of political genius, a work of art. In the past, congressional use of force and declarations of war were targeted against the governments deemed responsible for aggression; however, the terrorist attacks of 09/11/2001 were not attributed to a state actor. Confusion existed at many levels as to who to focus our revenge upon and as the best way to prevent future attacks. As public debate raged, Congress acted.

The AUMF authorized the President to put the hurt on nations, organizations, or persons to avenge the terrorist attacks and to prevent future attacks. Adding weight to the Presidents empowerment under the AUMF, it did not specify the states and non-state actors.

President Bush called it the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) and the war was waged with political, economic, and military power. From its beginning, President Bush expressed his highest regards for Islam. For the terrorists, he promised to a global dragnet to bring the terrorists to justice and to help prevent future terrorist acts.

With no geographical restraints, due to wording of the AUMF, force was applied in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Georgia, Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, and Somalia. With no named terrorist groups, the US was free to pursue them around the world and on the high seas. Terrorists could not hide in any country, under any name, and expect to have a safe refuge.

After President Obama had taken power, some changes were made. In 2009, the military was banned from using the term GWOT; instead, the term Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) was to be used. The media and an occasional government official uses it today, maybe to patronize the citizens who believe GWOT objectives still are in play.

Today, many people are complaining about what words Obama’s administration will or will not use to refer to the enemy. Some of his supporters have suggested naming the enemy is a distraction. Maybe it is.

Under AUMF, the enemy had many names, but it did not matter. We were acting as required to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons. Under OCO, we have lost that vision. The rules of engagement became blurred. The success of terrorist attacks, fueled by a common ideology, are becoming more frequent, and it should alarm us.

Oh yes, we got Bin Laden, we heard the briefing, but somehow we lost Iraq. In the quagmire of Obama’s wars, the leaders of Libya and Egypt were sucked into the chaos of whatever we are allowed to call those organizations that follow a common extreme ideology. Somehow Obama got away with using NATO as a cover to apply US airpower, which destroyed the Libyan air force, leaving the dictator vulnerable. After the insurgents mauled, humiliated, sodomized, and killed him, the situation devolved. Egypt recovered before it was too late by killing their way back to power, but in Libya we lost an ambassador, and our government still has not told us the truth about why that happened.

Obama’s joint resolution to Congress seeks authorization to do a small portion of what the AUMF already authorizes. Additionally, it calls the growing terrorist organization that is infamous for raping women and children, cutting off heads, and burning captives, by the name they once wish to be called:  Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Ironically, Obama declared ISIL to be neither a state nor Islamic. The irreconcilable declarations assail anyone capable of thinking. Giving formal recognition of the insurgent group through legislation makes no sense. Making the logic more ridiculous, the organization dropped “Levant” from its name this summer.

Maybe this suggests they have greater ambitions than just the Levant, the countries bordering on the Eastern Mediterranean. Using the term ISIL in his joint resolution, Obama limits US actions to that organization and in that region. Currently, there are groups in Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Afghanistan with ideological ties and allegiance to the group in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Additionally, it is public knowledge they are recruiting people from Europe and the United States. Neglecting to identify this global ideological threat is folly.

Zeba Khan, in a Boston Globe editorial recommended using the insulting term Daesh for the bad guys. The French government is using the Arabic term because it is apparently appropriate and insulting. Two fine reasons to use it. If the word is too offensive for Obama, them maybe we could piggy-back on something he said about the Daesh using a twisted interpretation of Islam. We could call them the TWisted Interpretation Terrorists, or Twits for short. Any name that denies them respect and prestige would be fine.

Section 6 of Obama’s resolution repeals the AUMF. Destroying the terrorist organization can not be the intent, because section 2 (c) prevents the use of enduring offensive ground combat operations. We heard various experts declare, “You can’t do this with airpower alone. You need boots on the ground.” By boots on the ground, they are talking about enduring offensive ground combat operations.

As a noted airpower doctrine authority, I agree that you can’t do everything with airpower, just as you can’t do anything without it. Modern wars are fought and won using the best mix of well-funded, well-trained, doctrinally-compliant joint forces. Using anything less is an open invitation to failure.

Recent experience clearly demonstrates that quickly winning a war, where nation-states are secondary players, especially when restraint is used, can't be done. Section 3 in Obama's proposed resolution terminates the use of force after three years, three years. That is never going to work. If passed, the only thing for certain would be the termination of the AUMF, which is something the bad guys would appreciate.

Because it makes no sense, Obama’s joint resolution needs to be placed in file 13. Because it summons terrible consequences, it should be vocally rejected by anyone who rejects the vision of the Twits, or whatever you want to call them.

 Daesh? Or a few other names that come to mind are trolls, ogres, finks, pucks, anything you like, just don't be nice about it.

The Chronicles of Susah

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  1. my previous attempts to post a comment seems to have failed, so here I go again. Sometime in my education, my attention was drawn to the language used by soldiers in World War 2, on both sides, to dehumanize each other by calling each other by animal names and other reference that the enemy was not really human. I am all for denying the enemy dignity and respect in public discourse and national rhetoric, but I wonder if that is a slippery slope to two-edged sword of demonizing the enemy. Is it more difficult to fight and win a war if soldiers are encouraged to think of the enemy has human? Is a shift in perspective, no matter how detached from reality it may be, necessary to fight effectively and secure the most direct victory?

  2. Throughout time, warring societies have denigrated their opposition. Determining whether the methodology is profitable would require some analysis of past denigration and the subsequent outcomes.

    During WWII, Walter Cronkite referred to the Japanese military as “yellow bastards” and the Japanese government often reference Americans and Europeans as “albino, hairless apes,” both references are uncomplimentary. The war ended approximately 4-years later. The Allies were battered but victorious. The Japanese lost everything. The peace that followed was stern, but eventually produced a nation of Japan which is not only wealthy and powerful but also considered a worthy friend of America and Europe.

    How much the name calling influenced the outcome is not clear. It might be interesting for someone to conduct a study on how the quasi-demonization of the each side complicated the peace and the nation-building process during the late 1940s and through the 1950s. I know of no such study.

    The Geneva conventions of the 19th and 20th centuries were attempts to bring about some civility in warfare, mankind’s most uncivil behavior. Civility is possible, even during such violent times, as war is a violent clash between societies. When one society excels at barbaric behavior, such as public beheadings, sanctioned rape, destruction of irreplaceable antiquities and landmarks, burning people to death, drowning them in cages, and video tapping many of the atrocities, it becomes increasingly difficult to treat them or to think of them as humans.

    They behave more like anti-humans.

    Additionally, when such an anti-human enemy uses their behavior to recruit people from out of the civilized society they are attacking, it becomes the duty of the civilized governments to demonize the anti-human behavior appropriately. As GOP candidate, Ted Cruz said in a recent debate, “If you join ISIS, you are signing your death warrant.” Or at least, if he were President such would be the case. That's not the case today.

    People need to know there will be consequences for their choices, preferably before they act on those choices.

    Modern soldiers are not mindless killers. The Nuremberg trials proved that “following orders” is not a sufficient excuse for avoiding punishment for war crimes. Modern soldiers make value judgments, or at least, they make decisions based on the possible consequences they may earn.

    Naming the enemy is essential to making the soldiers' job possible. Understanding, why the enemy needs to die, makes the job acceptable. Knowing when to stop killing makes us civilized.

    War is a terrible thing. It would be better for society to avoid war through tailored deterrence. All wars are the result of failed deterrence.