For months, members of Congress demanded that the White House write a proposal authorizing military force against ISIS. The demands never really made much sense, in part because the military offensive already started six months ago, and also because the legislative branch was perfectly capable of writing its own legislation. It just didn’t want to.
President Obama nevertheless agreed to Congress’ demands, presenting lawmakers with a proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force. Right on cue, many of the Republicans who demanded the draft language condemned the White House, insisting it didn’t go nearly far enough in expanding the powers of the executive.
Yesterday, however, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) went just a little further, suggesting on Hugh Hewitt’s conservative radio show that he’s open to an even more expansive AUMF.
HEWITT: Now Chairman Royce, I am not an expert witness, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn recently, and I did work for Richard Nixon way back in the day on the Real War. And any AUMF that comes out of the Congress ought to be broad and cover every explosion of Islamist extremism, including if Iran goes nuclear. So I want to focus back on that. Do you, personally, I don’t know what the committee will do, but would you support giving the President the explicit authority to strike at the Iranian nuclear capacity if they do not abandon it themselves?ROYCE: I think it is a good idea, and I will tell you, Hugh, that there are two jihads going on. One of them is the ISIS jihad, which you and I are familiar with. The other is something that’s not being talked about that much, but that is the jihad that’s coming out of Iran… Point to a region, or an area in the Middle East or North Africa, where Iran is not engaged in exporting revolution and terror. And so we shouldn’t take our eye off of that reality.
Hewitt called the response “an enormous relief.” I had a different reaction.
Consider the broader context. One of the principal Republican talking points of late is the assertion that President Obama is a lawless, out-of-control tyrant, hell-bent on grabbing as much power as possible.
It’s against this backdrop that Republicans are complaining that Obama doesn’t have enough unilateral power over matters of life and death. And it’s against this backdrop that the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee thinks it’s a good idea to authorize Obama to launch an entirely different war the president hasn’t asked to fight.
That Royce likes the idea of endorsing a military offensive against one foe (ISIS) and the foe’s nearby enemy (Iran) is an irony the congressman fails to appreciate.