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Tulsa World: Obama should ask Congress for Iraq support, Cole says

August 23, 2014
News Stories

Tulsa World - Randy Krehbiel 

President Barack Obama should ask Congress for authority to expand U.S. intervention in Iraq, and Congress should give it to him, 4th District Congressman Tom Cole said Friday in Tulsa.

“The president can claim, and a lot of people will want him to do this, that he can act under the 2002 authorization,” said Cole. “There’s a legal argument for that, but I don’t think there’s a good political argument for it.” 

Cole said members of both parties would be reluctant to take such a vote ahead of this fall’s elections, but in the long run it would be best for all concerned.

“There will be a lot of messages directed to the president saying, ‘Don’t make us do this,’” said Cole. “But we can’t complain about the president doing things without authorization if we refuse to give him authorization.

“This president, if he’s going to deploy assets there, would be wise to ask Congress. Congress would be wise to support him.”

Cole said a “pretty messy debate” would accompany any such vote, but it would be “a mistake to stumble into something like this without the American people informed and able to hold Congress accountable.”

Requesting congressional approval would also require the administration to formulate a coherent policy for dealing with the violent insurgents, Cole said.

“They should be able to say ‘Here’s the threat, here’s the objective, here’s the strategy, here’s what we want (Congress) to do,’” Cole said.

Cole said that, in hindsight, the U.S. should have left residual forces in Iraq, but the “real villain” is former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, because it was al-Maliki who turned Iraq’s military into a sectarian militia and pushed the opposition Sunnis into the arms of the extremists.

Cole said Obama was “right” not to deal directly with the Iraqi government until al-Maliki was replaced, but that the administration needs to do more than react to specific situations.

“These are bad guys,” Cole said.

“We do not want them to establish a terrorist state.”

Online: Tulsa World