On Iraq Airstrikes, Liberty Movement Says Obama Must Obey Constitution

Slate’s Dave Weigel recently noted that the GOP response to President Obama’s decision to launch airstrikes in Iraq has been “muted.” The liberty movement in Congress, on the other hand, has already spoken up and has a record of past statements that offer a recommendation for dealing with the current crisis.

While many in the U.S. today say that the Iraq war was a mistake, there is also a feeling that the current round of airstrikes is necessary to correct that initial mistake. Yet President Obama is making war for the second time in three years without going to Congress. His suggestion that the strikes could become a “long-term project” raises many questions.

Columnist Tim Carney captured the ambiguity of the operation, writing:

“Will we bomb until ISIS is eliminated? Or does ISIS simply need to be contained? Are we simply protecting Kurdistan, the semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq? What if American intervention becomes a rallying cry for other terrorist groups in the region? Will we bomb them, too?”

With these questions in mind, Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R), generally the most hawkish of anyone associated with the liberty movement, did not explicitly say how he might vote. However, he did say:

“I believe initiating new military hostilities in a sustained basis in Iraq obligates the president to go back to Congress and to make the case and to seek congressional authorization.”

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) gave perhaps the most defiant dissent to the president’s recent actions in a radio interview:

“Article 1, Section 8 . . . gives Congress — not the president — the power to declare war. These air strikes require congressional authorization, and the American people deserve open debate by their elected officials.”

Massie concluded that, “because the president has not articulated a long-term strategy, I would vote against authorizing the use of military force in Iraq.”

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been one of the more skeptical members of Congress concerning foreign interventions. An admitted critic of the 2003 Iraq war, Paul notably declined to blame the Obama administration for the current violence in Iraq, but pointed to an administration of his own party for instigating instability 11 years ago.

Paul has said he has not ruled out airstrikes, but believes “Congress should vote on it because that’s what the Constitution says.” Along with his Republican colleague Mike Lee (R-UT), Paul also participated in a bipartisan effort to repeal the Authorization for Use of Force in Iraq in January.

Successful repeal would have presumably precluded President Obama from his latest actions.

The reintroduction of American military force to Iraq could take any of several turns that might eventually include ground troops. The liberty movement, while still offering up its prescriptions for the current crisis, has provided one recommendation: let the American people decide through their elected representatives.

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