Obama readying airstrikes against Islamic State, reports say

by Vinnie Rotondaro

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News reports on Wednesday suggest that President Barack Obama is readying to take U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State -- the Sunni militant group rampaging through northern Iraq in an effort to establish an Islamic caliphate -- into Syria, where the group is headquartered.

In what could amount to an executive power play, the reports say the president is considering taking the action without congressional consent -- a one-up, of sorts, on the kind of the unilateral action that Catholic leaders like Pope Francis have so strongly cautioned against.

"One nation alone cannot determine how to stop an unjust aggressor," the pope said last month.

As reported by The New York Times, "On Tuesday, the president briefed Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and the Senate about his plans. Mr. Obama told them he believed he had the authority needed to order an expanded operation, though he would 'welcome action by the Congress that would aid the overall effort.' "

The decision to expand the airstrikes will take the fight against the Islamic State into "new and unpredictable terrain," the Times reports, and goes against the calls of many U.S. religious, who in an Aug. 27 letter urged the president to "move beyond the ways of war."

Obama will outline his plans for the Islamic State in a primetime speech Wednesday evening.

[Vinnie Rotondaro is NCR national correspondent. His email address is vrotondaro@ncronline.org.]

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