There’s nothing that interests Congress more than self-preservation. That, for example, is what keeps the pork flowing back home. But the nation’s recent wars—messy, lengthy and inconclusive—have become radioactive. The public has turned on them, which has led lawmakers to go to great lengths to keep their fingerprints off of them.
The GOP-controlled Congress has refused to authorize the near-daily U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria that have been taking place since last August. Given that, it was jarring to hear Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken declare Wednesday that the campaign has killed “more than 10,000” ISIS militants in the name of the American people.
Republican presidential candidates, nearly all of them lawmakers, have blasted President Obama for his conduct of the air campaign against ISIS. Yet they have refused to offer specifics on how they would wage the war. More critically, they have refused even to authorize it. “I believe the President must come to Congress to begin a war and that Congress has a duty to act,” Republican Sen. Rand Paul said back in December. “Right now, this war is illegal until Congress acts pursuant to the Constitution and authorizes it.”