Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says he will oppose President Obama’s war powers measure against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) calling the proposal “fatally flawed.”
Graham on Thursday said the proposed authorization for the use of military force provides no means of protecting the 5,000 vetted Syrian rebels the U.S. hopes to train in the anti-ISIS fight from the regime of Bashar Assad.
“Any authorization to use force that will not allow us to neutralize the air threats that any group going into Syria would face from Assad is not only militarily unsound, it is immoral,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, during a Capitol Hill event hosted by the Foreign Policy Initiative.
“And it shows that the president doesn’t have the will to destroy ISIL,” he added, using another name for the terror group. “This is the most illogical strategy I have ever witnessed. It makes no military sense. You cannot win and destroy ISIL if you do not have a strategy regarding Syria.”
Graham said the defect in the resolution became “crystal clear” on Wednesday when Defense Department leaders testified they did not know how the U.S. would protect the rebels in battle against Syrian government forces.
“I don’t believe that the legal aspect of that has been determined,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The proposed resolution would only allow U.S. forces to protect Iraqis, not Syrian rebels, on the battlefield, added Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who appeared alongside Carter.
The president is asking lawmakers to sign off on a new authorization specifically against ISIS and its associated groups. The measure which would ban “enduring” ground combat operations already faced a tough sell on Capitol Hill.
Republicans oppose that language because they worry it will handcuff military commanders, but Democrats fear it is too broad and could lead to more U.S. involvement.