President Barack Obama has asked Congress for authorization to declare war on Islamic State with a limit of three years but no limit on geographical boundaries.
It took him more than four months since the Islamic State executed American hostage James Foley to ask for an official declaration of war.
If Congress approves the request, it will be the first time the United States goes to war against an organization and not a country.
On Wednesday, President Obama made the case for Congress to formally authorize the use of military force in the war against ISIS, declaring that congressional passage of the measure makes the U.S. “strongest” in the fight, and that “ISIL is going to lose.”
“Now, make no mistake, this is a difficult mission and it will remain difficult for some time,” he said during an afternoon press conference. But, he added, “Our coalition is on the offensive, ISIL is on the defensive and ISIL is going to lose.”
Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, outlined the parameters of the request he delivered to Congress earlier that day. He said the bill reflects “our core objective to destroy ISIL,” and includes authority for a “systemic and sustained campaign of airstrikes,” support and training for forces on the ground and humanitarian assistance.
He made clear, however, that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF, does not call for the deployment of ground troops in Iraq or Syria.
“I am convinced that the U.S. should not get back into another ground war in the Middle East — it’s not in our national security interest and not necessary for us to defeat ISIL,” he said.
Obama detailed the ISIS threat in a letter to Congress accompanying the draft legislation.
“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 U.S. national security,” Obama writes. “It threatens American personnel and facilities located in the region and is responsible for the deaths of U.S. citizens”
As in the draft resolution, Obama goes on to name the Americans killed in ISIS captivity, “including James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller.”
There is broad support in Congress for a formal AUMF (Authorization for the Use of Military Force), though lawmakers disagree on the scope of the military powers that should be handed to the President.
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