I was not a big Menendez fan. I still think that on the whole Steve Lonegan was a much better choice, particularly on domestic issues.
However, Senator Menendez has demonstrated a good grasp of the threats to our country from Iran and from elsewhere in the Middle East. His comments yesterday about Obama’s speech taking pages from the Iranian playbook were very revealing. This is an opportunity for the Republicans to reach across the aisle (I hate that term but it fits in this case) to work with Menendez to craft a sanctions bill that is veto proof yet doesn’t destroy the current negotiations. They should be able to do it.
In addition, the request for an Authorization for Use of Force Resolution is long overdue. Obama is working from a 2001 resolution that doesn’t really work. They need something that closely resembles a declaration of war. The argument will be made that you can only declare war on a state. That is probably true, which makes an AUOF all the more important. For starters, it will satisfy the —– law. Secondly, it will identify our enemy for everyone, including the President, to see. Thirdly, it should satisfy the War Powers Act. Congress needs to expand (and limit) the war to all Islamic terrorist groups. That should include ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Taliban, and all other groups, foreign and domestic, that follow the Islamist doctrine.
The resolution should authorize the use of any military force. That should include kinetic, cyber, and intelligence. It should also include economic warfare.
Such a resolution might alienate countries like Saudi Arabia, but if the shoe fits it’s about time they wore it. They can change their behavior or suffer the consequences. Just because Arabia might be included in the context of the resolution doesn’t mean that we would attack her. In my mind, it would mean that at least we don’t help her by buying her oil.
Middle Eastern stability is important. While we don’t want to support the Saudi regime, neither do we want to enable groups like ISIS to grab their oil fields. As long as the Saudi’s don’t attack us, nor support those who do, they should be left alone. However, if they do give material, military, economic, or other support to those who attack or pose danger to us then all bets are off. The President should use all appropriate means to defend ourselves.
The resolution should include those who present a potential for harm. Thus Boko Haram would be included. So far they have not attacked us. However, the danger is clearly there, particularly if they cause the Nigerian government to fall and the oil field fall into enemy hands.
Congress should also pass a budget that dramatically increases our ability to fight the Islamists. This should include appropriations for the troops, ships, aircraft, and support operations that are appropriate. This budget should ensure that we have the forces ready to strike at a moments notice. We can’t afford to wait when the situation is urgent.
The resolution should also make clear that operations not involving Jihadis would need separate legislation. It would not be intended to support actions against Russia, China, or other states/organizations. However, our defense budget should also anticipate that we might need forces to counter them without endangering our anti-islamist operations. What would happen, for instance, if Russia decided to annex parts of Lithuania in order to access the Russian enclaves there and in Poland? These are both NATO states and we can’t support them merely by Obama waggling his finger. At a minimum we need to be able to get forces there quickly and decisively. If they are not pre-positioned they should at least be quickly available from troops based in the US. We could certainly preposition equipment in order to accelerate our ability to take action.
The bottom line is that Menendez and his Democrat allies can help. I believe that if done right we would have a veto proof majority in both houses of Congress.
I think the Authorization for Use of Forces should be sunsetted. This would avoid potential for abuse and would continue to put decisions for war and peace in the hands of the people.
Then the question is…. what happens if Obama does nothing? Time for impeachment. And time for a modern crusade using private forces.