President Obama officially asked Congress to rubber-stamp his six-month-old war against the Islamic State Wednesday, dubbing the proposed Joint Resolution an "Authorization for Use of Military Force."
"The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) poses a threat to the people and stability of Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East, and to U.S. national security," Obama wrote in a letter addressed to Congress. "Although existing statutes provide me with the authority I need to take these actions," Obama continued, "I have repeatedly expressed my commitment to working with the Congress to pass a bipartisan authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIL."
The letter does not explain why Obama is seeking a new AUMF if his existing war in Iraq is already authorized by "existing statutes." But in the past White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has explained why Obama is seeking a new resolution from Congress.
"The fact is that the president does believe that the military course that he has already ordered was already authorized by the United States Congress under the 2001 AUMF," Earnest told White House reporters on February 5th.
"So this is not a matter of legal necessity," Earnest continued. "It is a matter however, of the president's desire to send a very clear signal to the people of this country, to our allies, and to our enemies that the United States of America and our political system is united behind the strategy to degrade and destroy ISIL that the president has laid out."
This would be news to the vast majority of Americans, since 68% of them say Obama has no strategy when it comes to ISIS.
Obama's new AUMF submitted today does repeal the 2002 AUMF that President Bush secured from Congress before his war in Iraq, but it leaves the 2001 AUMF that Obama is using for his war in Iraq in place.
"Although my proposed AUMF does not address the 2001 AUMF, I remain committed to working with the Congress and the American people to refine, and ultimately repeal, the 2001 AUMF," Obama's letter to Congress reads. But it does not explain why lawmakers should vote this new AUMF when it in no way impacts Obama's legal authority to conduct his current, or future wars, in Iraq and the rest of the world.