02:25 GMT +318 July 2019
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    Lack of Legal Clarity, Definitions Undermining US Global War on Terror

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    The failure to get a clearly defined declaration of war against terror groups targeted around the world by US forces is causing confusion and politically undermining President Donald Trump’s military policies, US analysts told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Trump was supporting US air strikes against Islamist forces in northern Iraq, Somalia and other locations but did not have a legal, constitutional basis for waging war on them, retired US Army Colonel Doug Macgregor, a leading tactician and military historian, said on Tuesday.

    "First, the president is proceeding from the standpoint that our air and ground forces are operating in war zones against ‘declared’ enemies: If this were true, we would have adopted wartime rules of engagement many years ago," he said.

    The failure to establish a clear legal basis for the conduct of military operations could only lead to future confusion and controversies, Macgregor warned.

    "The lack of clarity creates two serious problems for the president and our forces. First, (in the absence of a declared war) just what are the legal constraints on the current rules of engagement?" he asked.

    Without a formal declaration of war, the US public was unlikely to maintain it support for military operations that generated significant numbers of civilian casualties, Macgregor cautioned.

    "Second, how much tolerance will the American public have for ‘collateral damage’ against the ‘undeclared’ enemy: Islamist terrorists?" he questioned.

    The vague, imprecise nature of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) allowed successive US administrations, including the current one, to establish cynical alliances with some terror groups in the name of fighting others, professor of neuroscience and political commentator John Walsh said.

    "GWOT has many different uses. The Trump administration understands that Obama and predecessors were in bed with various terrorists — and [former National Security Adviser] Mike Flynn understands that all too well," he said.

    Walsh predicted that US leaders would not allow Flynn to testify with immunity to Congress because he could then disclose embarrassing links between the US government and the Islamic State terror group, which is outlawed in Russia.

    "I think they will never let him [Flynn] testify with immunity. He could disclose the links between the US and IS and its various buddies," he said.

    Walsh expressed regret that confused and conflicting US policies toward Iran were blocking a much-needed improved relationship with Russia.

    "The tragedy here is that hostility to Iran is a stumbling block with new detente with Russia and even China. For that reason I was happy to see Flynn go. Tillerson can perhaps get a sane view on Iran into the policy — and maybe even [President Trump’s son –in-law Jared] Kirshner," he said.

    Trump and his inner circle of advisers needed to ignore must of the efforts by the departments of Defense and State and their own White House officials to influence them, Walsh advised.

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    terrorism, War on Terror, United States
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