Flanked by his vice president and the secretaries of state and defense, President Obama said he was asking Congress for authorization to launch a war against the so-called Islamic State.
Obama made clear that the draft authorization sent to the legislators does not signal a new ground war for the United States in the Middle East.
“I do not believe this nation is benefited … by being on a perpetual war footing,” Obama said.
As we’ve reported, the United States and an international coalition have already been striking Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq. Obama authorized those strikes relying on an Authorization for the Use of Force, or AUMF, passed in 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks, and another one passed in 2002, which began the war against Iraq.
Members of congress from both parties complained that the air strikes in Syria stretched the purpose of those resolutions. President Obama had previously voiced his support for repealing the 2001 AUMF, which he said could lead to a “a perpetual war” that “will prove self-defeating and alter our country in troubling ways.” Despite that, he used the 2001 AUMF to approve strikes back in September of 2014.
The draft resolution presented today calls for the repeal of the 2002 AUMF and the new authorization expires in three years.
Obama said that doesn’t mean the war would end there. It just means that Congress should reconsider the authorization as a new president takes office.
“Make no mistake, this is a difficult mission,” Obama said. “And it will remain difficult for some time.”
Obama said that an authorization passed by Congress would “show our troops and the world that Americans are united in this fight.”
Obama also added that the strikes undertaken so far have put the Islamic State on the defensive.
“Our coalition is strong, our cause is just and our mission will succeed,” Obama said.