Tuesday, 05 January 2016 00:00

Rep McGovern: Congress must vote on ISIL war

Written by Rep. Jim McGovern | USA Today

As the new year begins, we are more than 15 months into military operations against ISIL, and Congress has yet to vote on an authorization for war.

I have long called for Congress to get off the sidelines, and I am pleased that Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi agree that this is a priority for 2016. With our brave men and women in uniform in harm’s way, Congress must honor its constitutional responsibility by voting on this war.

We have seen progress from the strategy pursued by President Obama with the recovery of territory that was under ISIL control. These victories relied on coordinated operations with local, regional and international partners and highlight the importance of working with a strong international coalition united in defeating ISIL.

At the same time, ISIL also expanded its control over new territory in both Iraq and Syria, underscoring the difficulty of achieving victory on the battlefield alone. Even with the strongest military on earth, we cannot bomb our way to victory. To defeat ISIL, we must fill the political vacuum that allowed it to establish a stronghold in Syria and Iraq in the first place.

In Iraq, this means genuine political and social inclusion, particularly for Sunni Muslims, in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious Iraq. When I traveled to the region last summer, I saw little inclination for this from Iraqi and local officials, including the Kurdish and Sunni tribal leaders. Each just wanted to advance their own priorities. All parties must commit to reconciliation and making the political reforms needed for lasting stability in Iraq.

With Syria facing similar challenges, a new effort to negotiate a political settlement is a positive step and must be pursued. The unceasing bombing of civilians, especially by Syrian government and Russian air campaigns, but also including coalition forces, has only worsened the Syrian refugee crisis. To achieve lasting regional stability, we need a strategy that includes more than a military response.

Americans don’t want an endless war; they want a clearly defined mission for defeating ISIL. That starts with Congress finally debating and voting on an authorization for this war.

Link to original article from USA Today

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