Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) expressed disapproval of President Obama’s decision to proceed with a war against ISIS while lacking formal authorization from Congress, calling him a “perpetual war president.”
Kaine also lamented the fact that Congress has not shown interest in approving the war as it continues.
“To our institutions, one year of war against the Islamic State has transformed the president, who was elected in part because of his earlier opposition to the Iraq War, into an executive war president, maybe even a perpetual war president. One year of war against the Islamic State has stretched the 2001 authorization for use of military force that was passed to defeat the perpetrators of September 11th far beyond its original meaning or intent,” Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, said at the CATO Institute.
“I would argue that the Bush and Obama interpretations of the 2001 authorization are actually 180 degrees different than what was intended,” he added.
Kaine recalled the Bush administration originally seeking unilateral presidential authority to declare war after September 11.
“It was a blanket all-purpose authorization, and even in the aftermath of 9/11 Congress was smart enough to say, ‘hold on a second, we are not going to give you a blanket war authorization. We’re going to vote that down and only approve the more narrow authorization that says you can take action against the perpetrators of 9/11,’” he said.
Kaine said Obama has since expanded the executive war authority approved under the Bush administration’s leadership. He maintained that Congress must pass an authorization for military action against ISIS.
“This is in my view an illegal war right now because Article II does not support a war unless it’s in the imminent defense of the United States,” he said.
Kaine, ranking member of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, also said he disagrees with Obama’s characterization of the Iran nuclear deal.
“I don’t think if we walk away from the deal it’s automatically war. I disagree with the way the president sort of said it’s this or war. I wouldn’t phrase it that way,” he said. “But I would say this, the most natural consequence of walking away from the deal is Iran will go back to doing exactly what they were doing – racing ahead with a nuclear program. They were months away from crossing a nuclear threshold. They will race ahead even faster.”
In Kaine’s view, walking away from the deal could lead to Iran crossing the nuclear threshold and the U.S. having to decide whether or not to engage in military action to stop them.
“I think the deal significantly improves the status quo,” he said.