Kerry to Congress: Don’t Limit US War Powers

Kerry to Congress: Don’t Limit US War PowersKerry to Congress: Don’t Limit US War Powers

Any congressional authorization of US military force against IS should be flexible and not limit the fight to Iraq and Syria, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday.

The authorization should also not restrict US President Barack Obama in deploying combat troops against the militant group if needed, Kerry told a Senate committee debating the need for an Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF.

The Obama administration has argued that its current campaign of air strikes against IS is legal, based on authorization passed in the early 2000s for the campaigns against al Qaeda and associated groups and the Iraq War during the administration of former President George W. Bush.

Kerry said, however, the administration supported updating the authorizations to cover the campaign against IS, Reuters reported.

“We do not think an AUMF should include a geographic limitation,” Kerry said, “We don’t anticipate conducting operations in countries other than Iraq and Syria, but to the extent that ISIL (IS) poses a threat to American interests and personnel in other countries, we would not want an AUMF to constrain our ability to use appropriate force against ISIL in those locations if necessary.

“In our view, it would be a mistake to advertise to ISIL that there are safe havens for them outside Iraq or Syria,” Kerry added.

While Obama has said the United States would not send US combat troops into the fight against IS, Kerry said any war powers granted by Congress should not “preemptively bind the hands of the commander in chief or our commanders in the field.

Kerry has cautioned that while a US-led coalition was starting to inflict damage on IS, carrying out around 1,050 air strikes in Iraq and Syria, the fight could take years.