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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

This means war

Go kick butt, Mr. President, but not too hard, OK?

The White House will ask Congress to approve military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that bans “enduring offensive ground operations.”

Administration officials briefed lawmakers on Tuesday about the emerging language, which is intended to win over Republicans.

GOP lawmakers had balked at earlier language considered by a Senate panel in December that banned ground troops in combat operations with some exceptions, such as self-defense and rescue missions.

What is unclear is whether Democrats wary of voting for a new war will withhold their support for the updated language, which even some Republicans acknowledge is vague.

“It’d be interesting to know exactly what that ‘enduring’ means, but I have to see it,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has called for language that would allow ground troops in order to give the military maximum flexibility to go after ISIS.

[. . .]

The administration is expected to send its formal authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) to Capitol Hill as soon as Wednesday.

Congressional aides on Tuesday provided a few details.

They said it would last three years and impose no geographic restrictions on the fight, allowing the military to pursue the terror group wherever it goes.

It would not repeal the 2001 AUMF against al Qaeda and associated forces but would repeal a 2002 AUMF used for the Iraq War.

OK, compromise, I get it. Democrats want to say no ground troops, ever, and Republicans want to always have the option on the table, so they split the difference and come up with no "enduring ground operations." But enduring is open to interpretation, isn't it? Who decides if it's three weeks or six months or two years? When they named the war in Afghanistan Operation Enduring Freedom, I'm pretty sure they meant "enduring" to mean something like forever. So maybe that's it. We can usse ground force, but it can't last forever.

I also understand the need to specify no geographic limitations on the AUMF, since we have an enemy more defined by ideology than borders, escept for the pretend IS. But that allows for a lot of flexibility, too. I can see a smooth operator interpreting the language to mean we can pretty much go after anybody anywhere. But since terrorists can hit anybody anywhere, maybe it's foolish to long for the days when a declaration of war was very specific and limited and well-defined.