Congress has long abdicated its constitutional authority with respect to the nation’s numerous and ever-expanding wars abroad.
It was welcome news, then, to learn that Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, and Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, have put forward a new Authorization for Use of Military Force for consideration. At the very least, the offering of a new AUMF gives Congress a long-overdue opportunity to talk about America’s wars and perhaps even contemplate whether the United States should continue any of those efforts.
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Congress rushed to pass an AUMF that granted the executive branch the authority to order military action against those responsible for the attacks. Unfortunately, in the time since then, the 2001 AUMF has been used to justify American military action in countries and against groups that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, with little congressional oversight.
The AUMF proposed by Corker and Kaine, while appreciated as a starting point for conversation, regrettably does nothing to rein in America’s perpetual state of war. The AUMF authorizes military action against al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the Islamic State, as well as at least five “existing associated forces”: al-Shabab in Somalia, the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda in Syria, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (in northern Africa).
The AUMF also permits the president to add new groups to the AUMF, as well as new countries where operations can be conducted, beyond Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen, though it does provide for congressional review for doing so.
While there are elements of the new AUMF that might be an improvement over the 2001 AUMF, in totality, what the proposed new AUMF does is keep the United States engaged in wars in at least half a dozen countries against an ever-expanding number of groups, with no sunset provisions or geographical limitations.
In other words, it merely continues, with congressional blessings, a state of war without clear goals or limits. After 17 years of perpetual war, it is time we reconsider our wasteful interventionism abroad and bring the troops home.
— The Orange County Register, April 24, 2018