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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Columns: Bread and Butter

Should Congress authorize Obama’s use of force against the Islamic State?

President Barack Obama’s proposed legislation against the Islamic State is filled with vague generalities. Most importantly, the bill prohibits “enduring offensive combat operations.”

What does that mean? Almost anything, which is its biggest problem. It could tie the hands of the executive branch. Or, it could lead to a Lyndon-Johnson-esque escalation of conflict — and we all saw how that ended.

Whether American foreign policy is inhibited or allowed to run rampant, it’s unlikely Congress will be able to do anything about it. Those in Congress would first have to agree on what the bill actually means, at least enough to force the executive branch into complying.

(Congress agreeing? Doubtful. Agreeing to use their power to constrain the executive’s war-making powers? Even more doubtful.)

The trouble is, the bill is set to last three years. Obama’s successor will also be affected. With an issue as broad and murky as combating the Islamic State, specifics are paramount. Until Obama comes up with a bill acknowledging this, Congress shouldn’t be willing to pass it.


Maddie Pickens is an economics freshman. Follow her on Twitter.

After Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. should be hard-pressed before sending troops back into combat.

Sen. John McCain told Meet the Press, “I think we should not restrain the president of the United States.”

But Congress’ job is to check the president’s power, and defunding the military through the power of the purse is not the right method. Though sending troops into harm’s way may not be the best choice for the U.S., once there, U.S. soldiers should have full support. President Barack Obama did the right thing in asking Congress to authorize the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State.

The use of U.S. forces against the Islamic State is questionable, and Congress should be asking: What are our goals? What are our tactics?  What will success look like?

This debate in Congress should take place before any American boot touches Iraqi soil once again.


Maddy Bynes is a junior studying political science and history. Follow her on Twitter.

The U.S. military spent 10 years in Iraq, and all we got out of the deal was the Islamic State. Naturally, many are skeptical of the push to re-engage in military conflict in Iraq and its surrounding areas.

But there are some key differences this time around: no functioning (albeit oppressive) government that is being overthrown, no “boots on the ground,” a clear and timely expiration of executive authority to engage, and a genuine regional coalition that is dedicated to the cause.

There’s something to be said of learning from the legacy of the Iraq War, but there’s also a worry that our recent history will cloud our judgment. We should be skeptical of every military entanglement, but that doesn’t mean every military entanglement is a Vietnam or Iraq. Every once in a while, a Rwanda happens, and we live with the collective regret of having done nothing.

I don’t know if the Islamic State is a Rwanda or an Iraq, but I do think the hysteria is overblown and that the president’s Authorization for Use of Military Force is much less dangerous than, say, Congress’ open-ended check to President George W. Bush in 2001.

It’s time for an honest debate about our contemporary military priorities; it’s a new era and a new war.


Jacquelyn Oesterblad is opinions editor. Follow her on Twitter.

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