How the Use of Force Against ISIS Represents Congressional Politics at Its Worst

In the most recent Brookings Cafeteria Podcast, John Hudak looks at President Obama’s decision to engage in air strikes in Iraq and Syria to combat ISIS (also known as the Islamic State or ISIL) and how it reveals some of the worst aspects of our politics domestically.  

Hudak argues that Congress is currently more concerned about the midterm election than they are with exercising their constitutional authority. Despite the congressional leadership’s bemoaning Obama’s use of executive action, here they are ceding to the president by opting not to take a vote on the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), and instead are allowing the president to execute the war as he sees fit. Hudak argues it’s possible that Congress will come back and vote on the use of force after the election, but this is unlikely.

However, the Congress is not the only branch of government being disingenuous on this issue. In order to carry out attacks against ISIS, the President is relying on the 2003 AUMF. This is ironic because a main part of Obama’s 2008 primary and general campaign centered on his opposition to the AUMF and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This dynamic is another example that illustrates why Americans increasingly don’t trust their government or elected officials.