Obama asks Congress to authorise force against IS

Obama asks Congress to authorise force against IS
Barak Obama delivers his State of the Union address in which he called on Congress to give him updated war powers to use American military might to go after Islamic State (IS) group, vowing to defeat the militants.
3 min read
21 January, 2015
Obama asked Congress to give him updated war powers [Getty]

President Barack Obama asked Congress on Wednesday to give his administration a new Authorisation to use military force against so called Islamic State extremist group, to replace the current Authorisation which dates back to just after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.  

He told Congress in the country's annual State of the Union address that America stands side-by-side with victims of terror around the world.  

"We stand united with people around the world who've been targeted by terrorists,  from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris," Obama said in the country's annual State of the Union address.  

"We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks."  

He was speaking just days after attacks in the French capital at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in a street attack on police and a hostage-taking in a Jewish supermarket left 17 dead.  

He also denounced what he said was the "deplorable anti-Semitism" on the rise in some parts of the world. 

Obama also asked US lawmakers to give him updated war powers to use American military might to go after the Islamic State (IS) group, saying it would give his administration the authority it needs.  

"This effort will take time. It will require focus. But we will succeed," he vowed. 

The US has already unleashed dozens of airstrikes against the militants since September, using the powers enshrined in legislation adopted in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to hunt down Al-Qaeda.  

But US officials have argued that a new Authorisation for Use of Military Force (AUMF) is needed.  

"Tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL," Obama said.  

But he stressed US officials "reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we've done relentlessly since I took office, to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies."  

And he added: "We continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims, the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace."

Show of support

In a show of support for France, top US diplomat John Kerry last week laid wreaths at the sites of the Paris attacks.  And Kerry, who has helped lead diplomatic coalition-building efforts to harness support from more than 60 countries to combat IS, denounced the Paris attacks as an "outrage" and a sign that press freedom was increasingly "under siege."

"That is because some people, some groups,and even some governments want to dictate the truth, want to define it, want to hide what we would know to be the truth," Kerry told a conference on journalists' safety on Tuesday.  

Promising to stand up for and respect human dignity, Obama also said the US would "defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender." 

"We do these things not only because they're right, but because they make us safer."