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March 12, 2015

Obama seeks congressional approval for war on ISIL


The White House is seeking approval from Congress for an authorization of military force in the war against the Islamic State.

The U.S. began launching airstrikes against ISIL in August and has played a leading role in a coalition of nations fighting the group, which the U.S. has deemed a terrorist organization. Approximately 3,000 U.S. troops are training and advising local forces that are in ground combat with ISIL, mainly in Iraq and Syria.

The authorization would give President Barack Obama the ability to use military force against “ISIL or associated persons or forces.” U.S. ground troops could participate in rescue operations and special ops as well as gather intelligence.

It forbids the president from initiating “enduring offensive ground combat operations” and caps the authorization at three years, giving the government the chance to revisit the issue after that period.

The authorization is a point of contention between many Democrats, who say the proposal goes too far, and many Republicans, who say the authorization puts too many limits on U.S. involvement.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces advanced on the Iraqi city of Tikrit this week with the aim of displacing ISIL. Tikrit is strategically located between Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, and Mosul, its second-largest city that also has the country’s largest dam.

Warm up questions
  1. What do you know about the Islamic State?
  2. What is happening in Syria and Iraq?
  3. How does the U.S. make decisions about getting involved in international conflicts?
Critical thinking questions
  1. Why do you think the president is seeking support from Congress?
  2. How would this authorization affect the fight against ISIL?
  3. The last time a president received a war authorization from Congress was in 2002 during the Iraq War. How could that precedent play a role in the current decision, and do you think it influences the way that congressional representatives view the proposal?
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