The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in the lead up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq became a huge political issue in the years to come, with Congressmen and Senators defined to a great extent by whether they voted for the war or against it. They’re not making that mistake again.
Not the mistake of starting a big war in Iraq, that’s totally happening. Rather, Congress is eager to avoid a vote that could come back to haunt them when the new war inevitably turns sour and stops being the trendy thing for officials to support.
It was less than a month ago, incredibly, that the House passed a resolution saying they opposed any troops being sent to Iraq without Congressional authorization. That came in the wake of polls showing overwhelming opposition for a new Iraq War, but weeks before President Obama unveiled his “humanitarian intervention.”
Congressmen have, virtually without exception, been cheering the escalation of the new Iraq War ever since, and the primary dividing line is between the pro-war and really pro-war sides, with the usual suspects pushing for a dramatic escalation above and beyond what’s already been announced.
President Obama has long made clear his preference not to seek Congressional authorizations, arguing he can unilaterally launch such wars as he sees fit and will “keep Congress informed” of his plans, more or less.
Congress pushed back a bit on Libya, though a vote never took place, and the US invasion of Syria, announced by Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, was actually stopped by Congressional opposition. This time, they’d just as soon not be asked.
It’s not that a no vote is even a serious possibility, of course. Anything more than a handful of no votes in the House would be shocking. Instead, Congress wants to avoid messy conversations with constituents about what they did when the new Iraq War was launched, preferring to leave the whole thing up to the administration.
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