Even as the White House legal counsel briefed Democratic senators on President Barack Obama’s draft for new war powers against the Islamic State last week, Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the committee charged with authorizing war, was hesitant to reveal its details to a reporter. He had given the White House his word he would keep the president’s proposal confidential until the authorization for the use of military force, or AUMF, was sent over to Congress formally.
“They’ve trusted me with that material,” the Tennessee Republican explained. He later wrapped his interview with Defense One with an apology, saying he was late to a call with the White House.
This is Corker – a careful and thoughtful counterweight to the jump-to-action style of the more hawkish members of his party. You won’t often see him on the Sunday shows, but quietly, behind closed doors, he’s the GOP senator with a direct line to the president.
The soft-spoken businessman who was once seen as too moderate and independent is now one of the most important figures in Washington for the war against the Islamic State as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. From this perch, Corker will preside over the first full debate on war powers and U.S. military intervention in more than a decade. It’s a policy fight that could shape U.S. national security strategy beyond Obama’s last two years in office, for years to come.
While Corker rejects the “moderate” label, he’ll gladly take pragmatist. “I don’t view myself as a moderate in any way,” Corker told Defense One. “I do view myself as someone who tries to solve problems. In a body where votes matter, you have to have a majority, and certainly bringing the two parties together is important, especially on big issues.”
Read More:Bob Corker’s War – Defense One.