Conflicts

The fight against ISIS: There is no half-way in war

Reaction from Gayle Lemmon, senior fellow at The Council on Foreign Relations

 

Programming Alert: Author Benjamin Collins will appear on "Watters World" on November 21 and 22 at 8 pm ET on Fox News Channel.

The United States has not been in a war since 1941.

Since the Korean War, every military action the U.S. has participated in has been conducted through congressional authorization in an “Authorization for Use of Military Force” (AUMF) as opposed to a formal declaration. Legal gymnastics aside, the last time Congress voted on the use of military force was the Iraq Resolution on October 11, 2002.

Although having declared an end to combat operations in Iraq five years ago and in Afghanistan almost a year ago, President Obama and by virtue of precedent, Congress, has justified military action in Iraq and Syria under the previous AUMF passed fourteen years ago on September 14, 2001 in response to the terrorist attack of 9/11.

However, that AUMF was explicitly intended to “use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001”.

There is no halfway in war, yet President Obama seeks to maintain a political narrative over a clear elucidation of the battlefield realities.

While certainly nuanced and debatable to include the current military action under this premise, the most concerning consequence by failing to have the debate in Congress is that they have muted the voice of the American people.

As the events in Paris have brought forth a cacophony of calls from both elected officials and candidates for President Obama to reinvigorate the fight against ISIS, it is important now, more than ever, for Congress to put aside the usual political gamesmanship and debate the passing of a new AUMF.

The administration’s recent deployment of fifty Special Forces soldiers while repeating the proclamation that there are no “boots on the ground” and that they are not there in combat roles does a disservice to the soldiers that will undoubtedly be in harm’s way.

There is no halfway in war, yet this president seeks to maintain a political narrative over a clear elucidation of the battlefield realities.

Air power alone will not accomplish the president’s stated strategy of “degrade and destroy” and ground troops will be necessary in some capacity in order to defeat the conventional army that ISIS has on the battlefield. However, we have yet to hear of any coherent cohesive strategy that can defeat ISIS in both Iraq and Syria as well as reduce its capability to export terrorism beyond its proclaimed "Caliphate."

If we have learned anything by our experiences in both Iraq and Afghanistan, any military action undertaken should have a clear and concise understanding what the desired goals and end-state are. 

While the American people are indeed war-weary, and we as a nation are still counting the cost of the last fourteen years of war in both blood and coin, understand this -- there are no people who understand the nature of the threat we face and the need to destroy it more than American fighting men and women.

They understand and will willingly undertake any mission that the American people ask of them.

We owe it to them to know, without question, that they have our support in the increasing probability that they will face danger yet again. 

It is time for the American people to be heard through their Constitutional representatives in the “People’s House.” This is a debate that needs to happen. Not simply to reaffirm to our fighting men and women that this nation recognizes their continued sacrifice but if our country is allowed to wage war without the people’s consent we will become a nation whose citizens are allowed to ignore the realities of war.

Benjamin Collins is a decorated U.S. Army Special Forces veteran (Green Beret) who completed multiple combat rotations in support of the Global War on Terrorism. As an expert on national security and foreign policy matters Collins is a regular guest on Fox News as well as a frequent radio show expert on US radio stations from Arizona to NYC and the BBC World Service.