ACTION ALERT: Say No to Obama's Request for New War Powers
February 12, 2015 Jon Rainwater / Peace Action West & Conn Carroll / TownHall.com & Guy Benson / TownHall
At last. We have an opportunity to weigh in for peace. After six months of US bombing in Iraq and Syria, Congress will finally debate the new war. This is a huge opportunity for pro-peace folks to shape the debate. President Obama's proposed "war powers act" is so riddled with loopholes and lacking in strategic sense that opponents on the left and right have united it condemning it as a "power grab" and a "blank check" for more, unwinnable foreign wars.
ACTION ALERT: Say No to Obama's Request for New War Powers Jon Rainwater / Peace Action West
(February 11, 2015) -- At last. You have an opportunity to weigh in for peace. After six months of US bombing in Iraq and Syria, Congress will finally debate the new war. This is a huge opportunity for pro-peace folks to shape the debate.
The bombing isn't working, as we've seen in conflict after conflict. According to the government's own reports the number of new foreign recruits joining ISIS is roughly the same as those the coalition claims to have killed. 
There is a better way. Smart diplomatic, political and humanitarian initiatives that get at root causes can do more to stabilize Iraq and Syria than US bombs. Barbara Lee has legislation promoting political and diplomatic alternatives that we can support. For a list of solutions that don't involve dropping bombs see our blog post on alternatvies to war.
I'm not surprised, and I doubt you are either, by the lack of progress six months in. When the US drops bombs in villages and towns, there are almost always civilian casualties. And when civilians get killed, a powerful incentive to join the ranks of ISIS is created. Bombing also reinforces the sectarian tensions that are one of the root causes of the conflict.
It's like pouring gasoline on a fire.
In fact, this six-month-old war is tragically part of a wider 14-year-old war that includes the war in Afghanistan, the previous war in Iraq, and drone attacks in Yemen and Pakistan. This ad hoc, borderless war isn't making Americans safer or the world more stable.
We don't think any war declaration should pass. But if it moves forward, members of Congress should push restrictions to make sure it's not a blank check [by imposing]:
• A one-year sunset clause • Geographic limitations • Definitively no combat troops on the ground • Repealing the open-ended war on terror authorization • Robust reporting requirements including civilian deaths
Bombing fuels extremism. It can't end it.
Can you write Congress and say “no blank check for an endless, unwinnable war”?
Jon Rainwater is the Executive Director of Peace Action West
Speak Out Against An Authorization for Endless War
Oppose Open-Ended ISIS War Declaration (AUMF)
It is time for Congress to fully debate the current military strategy against ISIS. The President's submission of a proposed war declaration provides that opportunity.
The military strategy against ISIS continues to fail. I agree with the president and other experts that there is no military solution to the challenges in the Middle East. As a supporter of Peace Action, I ask that you vote against any war bill (AUMF) and support political solutions and other actions that weaken ISIS and get at the root causes of extremism.
I also urge you to support legislation that promotes alternative solutions such as diplomatic, humanitarian and political approaches such as Rep. Barbara Lee's H. J. Res. 30.
Though I oppose any AUMF and urge you to vote no, if an AUMF moves forward I would encourage you support limiting restrictions on an AUMF that would include:
• A one-year sunset clause
• Restricting targeted combatants to ISIS
• Geographic limitations
• Definitively no combat troops on the ground
• Repealing both the 2002 and 2003 AUMFs not just one
• Robust reporting requirements including reporting on civilian deaths
Over the long-term there are only political solutions and actions to prevent extremism that will resolve the issues in Syria and Iraq and ultimately weaken ISIS.
Please let me know how you plan to act on this extremely important matter.
(February 11, 2015) -- President Obama officially asked Congress to rubber-stamp his six-month-old war against the Islamic State Wednesday, dubbing the proposed Joint Resolution an "Authorization for Use of Military Force."
"The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) poses a threat to the people and stability of Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East, and to US national security," Obama wrote in a letter addressed to Congress. "Although existing statutes provide me with the authority I need to take these actions," Obama continued, "I have repeatedly expressed my commitment to working with the Congress to pass a bipartisan authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIL."
The letter does not explain why Obama is seeking a new AUMF if his existing war in Iraq is already authorized by "existing statutes." But in the past White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has explained why Obama is seeking a new resolution from Congress.
"The fact is that the president does believe that the military course that he has already ordered was already authorized by the United States Congress under the 2001 AUMF," Earnest told White House reporters on February 5th.
"So this is not a matter of legal necessity," Earnest continued. "It is a matter however, of the president's desire to send a very clear signal to the people of this country, to our allies, and to our enemies that the United States of America and our political system is united behind the strategy to degrade and destroy ISIL that the president has laid out."
This would be news to the vast majority of Americans, since 68% of them say Obama has no strategy when it comes to ISIS.
Obama's new AUMF submitted today does repeal the 2002 AUMF that President Bush secured from Congress before his war in Iraq, but it leaves the 2001 AUMF that Obama is using for his war in Iraq in place.
"Although my proposed AUMF does not address the 2001 AUMF, I remain committed to working with the Congress and the American people to refine, and ultimately repeal, the 2001 AUMF," Obama's letter to Congress reads. But it does not explain why lawmakers should vote this new AUMF when it in no way impacts Obama's legal authority to conduct his current, or future wars, in Iraq and the rest of the world. Report: 20,000 Foreign Fighters
Descend on Middle East to Join ISIS Guy Benson / TownHall
(February 11, 2015) -- An exclusive, harrowing report from the Associated Press:
Foreign fighters are streaming into Syria and Iraq in unprecedented numbers to join the Islamic State or other extremist groups, including at least 3,400 from Western nations among 20,000 from around the world, US intelligence officials say in an updated estimate of a top terrorism concern.
Intelligence agencies now believe that as many as 150 Americans have tried and some have succeeded in reaching in the Syrian war zone, officials told the House Homeland Security Committee in testimony prepared for delivery on Wednesday. Some of those Americans were arrested en route, some died in the area and a small number are still fighting with extremists . . . .
Nick Rasmussen, chief of the National Counterterrorism Center, said the rate of foreign fighter travel to Syria is without precedent, far exceeding the rate of foreigners who went to wage jihad in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen or Somalia at any other point in the past 20 years. US officials fear that some of the foreign fighters will return undetected to their homes in Europe or the US to mount terrorist attacks.
We're witnessing an unprecedented influx of jihadists into Syria and Iraq, as ISIS acts as a magnet for the world's most violence-minded Islamists. Quite the JV squad. Thousands are arriving from Western countries, which isn't much of a surprise, given the biography of the terrorist army's most prominent spokesman.
We wrote about the intelligence community's fears in this vein last year, concerns that have been vindicated in horrifying fashion in recent months: The (not random) Paris attacks were carried out by radicals, at least one of whom was trained by Al Qaeda in Yemen.
Belgian authorities disrupted a killing spree planned by ex-ISIS fighters who'd returned to European soil. Sources told CNN that various intelligence agencies believe as many as 20 of these sleeper cells have sprouted up across western Europe.
Britain's M15 chief is sounding the alarm of "mass casualty attacks" in the works by Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists. This cancer is also metastasizing in Australia, which has been hit with a string of small-scale attacks and threats, including this latest foiled plot:
Two men were charged on Wednesday with planning to launch an imminent terrorist attack in Australia, after police seized a homemade flag associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, a machete and a hunting knife in a counterterrorism raid. The men, aged 24 and 25, would have carried out the attack on Tuesday if they had not been arrested that day in the raid in the Sydney suburb of Fairfield, New South Wales state Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn told reporters.
A video that was seized during the raid showed one of the men making threats, though Burn declined to detail exactly what was said. Australian Attorney General George Brandis later told the Senate that the video depicted one of the suspects kneeling in front of the Islamic State flag with the knife and machete while making a politically motivated statement and threatening to commit "violent acts" with those weapons.
Recent news reports suggest that while US-led airstrikes have helped make a dent in ISIS' leadership ranks and mitigate their progress in Iraq, the campaign hasn't halted the group's advance within Syria. The Obama administration's premature, politically-motivated full withdrawal from Iraq (contrary to his own stated position as a candidate) created the vacuum ISIS has filled with bloodshed and unimaginable horror.
The White House is now rethinking the timing of Obama's planned total withdrawal from Afghanistan, where Taliban extremists (who may soon welcome several of their Obama-released commanders back into the fold) could retake the country upon our departure, creating another dangerous failed state controlled by medieval savages.
Speaking of which, Yemen's government has been overthrown by Iran-backed Shiite radicals, forcing Western diplomats to flee. Yemen -- which President Obama touted as a beacon of his counter-terrorism policies' success just a few months ago -- is now officially a failed state:
The State Department confirmed late Tuesday that it has closed the US Embassy in Yemen and evacuated its staff because of the political crisis and security concerns following the takeover of much of the country by Shiite rebels. The department announced it had suspended operations at the embassy in Sanaa and relocated its remaining diplomatic personnel "due to the ongoing political instability and the uncertain security situation."
The embassy had been operating with only a skeleton staff for some weeks amid deteriorating conditions. Yemen has been in crisis for months, with Iran-linked Shiite Houthi rebels besieging the capital and then taking control. Earlier Tuesday, US officials said the embassy closure would not affect counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida's Yemen branch.
Oh, right: Yemen is also home to what US officials describe as the most dangerous active branch of Al Qaeda. The Obama administration recently released five Yemeni terrorists from Guantanamo Bay, sending them back to neighboring Oman.
Another nation has imploded, with anti-American, anti-modernity forces sowing chaos and destruction. And another American embassy has been evacuated, which could well lead to scenes in Sanaa reminiscent of the images we saw out of Tripoli, Libya, where jihadists swam in our embassy swimming pool:
Bob Woodward said this morning that it's clear to anyone who's paying attention that the Obama administration lacks any coherent strategy to handle ISIS in particular. Au contraire, mon frere. They just announced a new strategy: "Strategic patience."
How's that working out? I'll leave you with another fresh AP story entitled, "Former Guantanamo detainees are back in the Middle East and returning to terrorist organizations." Indeed they are.