Obama Presses for New Authority To Attack ISIS in State of the Union

President Obama

President Obama last night called on Congress to pass a resolution approving a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) aimed at ISIS to back the ongoing military campaign against the militant group in Iraq and Syria.

In his State of the Union address, Obama said a new AUMF resolution would "show the world that we are united in this mission" to defeat the group that now controls large areas in Syria and Iraq.

Earlier this month, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he expected the Obama administration to push for a new AUMF to cover the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants that has included airstrikes since Aug. 8.

Until now, the Obama administration has relied on the AUMF approved by Congress and signed by former President George W. Bush after the 9/11 terror attacks to justify military action against ISIS.

Obama has maintained that he had sufficient authority to act against ISIS under the old resolution aimed at al Qaeda and the Taliban, but would welcome a new AUMF.

The original AUMF gave the president the authority "to use all necessary and appropriate force" against nations, organizations or persons who he had determined were involved in the 9/11 attacks, with the overall purpose of preventing future terror attacks against the U.S.

In his first State of the Union address to a Congress controlled by Republicans in both houses, Obama urged patience in the fight against ISIS.

"This effort will take time," he said. "It will require focus but we will succeed."

Obama's remarks were largely devoted to the improving economy and his proposals to close tax loopholes and tax the wealthy to benefit the middle class.

On foreign policy and the military, Obama argued that U.S. leadership must blend diplomacy with the judicious use of military power.

"We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy, when we leverage our power with coalition building, when we don't let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents," Obama said.

Along those lines, Obama called for leveraging the opportunity to reach a deal with Iran to prevent that country's development of a nuclear weapon. He said he would oppose legislation to impose new sanctions on Iran until the negotiations on a nuclear deal were completed.

In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, "we've learned some costly lessons over the last 13 years," Obama said.

The lessons learned have led to a new strategy, Obama said.

"Instead of Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan, we've trained their security forces, who've now taken the lead, and we've honored our troops' sacrifice by supporting that country's first democratic transition," he said.

Obama also claimed that his policy to counter Russian aggression against Ukraine was also having success.

"Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, some suggested that Mr. Putin's aggression was a masterful display of strategy and strength," Obama said.

"Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters," Obama said.

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