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EXCLUSIVE: Bolton Urges Congress to Nix Obama’s ISIS War Resolution

Gage Skidmore

Mark Stricherz - published on 02/16/15 - updated on 06/08/17

"I would vote against it," says former UN ambassador, citing "too many restraints"

WASHINGTON — Former UN Ambassador John R. Bolton said Congress should oppose President Obama’s authorization for a use of force against the Islamic State group because the measure is too restrictive.

"I would vote against it," Bolton told Aleteia after he gave a speech on Capitol Hill Friday. "It puts too many restraints on the president’s authority. I think we need to do everything we can to destroy ISIL."

Bolton said the resolution should give the president broader authority. "In a sense, it doesn’t go far  enough. It ties the president’s hands. A one-sentence authorization is all you need."

Bolton’s criticism reflects the opposition of many conservatives to Obama’s resolution. House Speaker John Boehner said the authorization needs "toughening up." Some conservatives oppose language in the resolution that would be limited to three years and opposes "enduring offensive combat operations," according to the Associated Press. Some Democrats have criticized Obama’s war resolution from the left. "I don’t want to authorize a future president to undertake major ground operations in the Middle East because the casualties would be significant and the foreign policy objectives would be elusive," Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif, said.

In addition, Bolton’s strong words highlight the belief  among conservative hawks that Obama’s foreign policy deserves stronger public rhetoric. In the 2014 congressional elections, congressional Republican candidates faulted Obama  for "a lack of leadership" in the world. The gains the party made in the House and Senate confirmed conservatives’ perception that voters want rhetoric similar to President Ronald Reagan’s bold rhetorical salvoes against the Soviet Union and congressional Democrats’ foreign policy.

On his Twitter page, Bolton blamed Obama’s withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq in 2011 for paving the way for ISIS. "Instead of asking for permission to use force, Obama  should ask  for forgiveness. Obama’s retreat from Iraq opened the door for ISIS to rise," Bolton tweeted Wednesday.

In his speech Friday at the Defense Forum Foundation, Bolton described Obama’s foreign-policy worldview as unreconstructed liberalism.

"He went to an Ivy League school and believes what he was taught … It just happened he was elected president," he said.

Those words suggested that Obama’s foreign policy falls outside the mainstream.

Bolton’s foreign policy views too have come under criticism as  beyond public consensus. Bolton’s nomination for the UN post in 2005 was held even though Republicans controlled the Senate. President George W. Bush made a recess appointment that summer, and Bolton became the permanent United Nations ambassador.

Bolton has said he is interested in running for president in 2016. According to Politico, Bolton raised $2.5 million for a political action committee last summer.

Bolton made similar noises in 2012 but declined to run. On Friday, Bolton mused that his foreign-policy views may not have wide public acceptance yet. After he called on one questioner at the speech,  Bolton noted that the young man sat at a table to his far right hand side.

"You’re too far to the right," Bolton said,  chuckling and drawing muffled laughter from the  audience.

Islamist MilitantsPolitics
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