Obama calls on Congress to 'finally' authorize use of force against ISIS: 'Take a vote'

President Obama.
(Image credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

In his State of the Union address, President Obama declared that if "Congress is serious about winning this war," it needs to "finally authorize the use of military force" against the Islamic State.

"Take a vote," the president told Congress. "But, the American people should know that with or without congressional action, [ISIS] will learn the same lessons as terrorists before them. If you doubt America's commitment — or mine — to see that justice is done, ask Osama bin Laden. Ask the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, who was taken out last year, or the perpetrator of the Benghazi attacks, who sits in a prison cell. When you come after Americans, we go after you."

Obama said that while it may take some time to fight terrorists, "we have long memories, and our reach has no limit." What the United States can't do is "try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis. That's not leadership; that's a recipe for a quagmire, spilling American blood and treasure that ultimately weakens us. It's the lesson of Vietnam, of Iraq — and we should have learned it by now." The smarter approach, he said, is to have a "patient and disciplined strategy that uses every element of our national power." The U.S. will "act, alone if necessary, to protect our people and allies," but on matter of global concern, "we will mobilize the world to work us, and make sure other countries pull their own weight."

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