Peace Is Possible
8 April 2018
Whoever would love life and see good days…. must seek peace and pursue it. (I Peter 3:10,11)
Repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs
adapted from Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis (ret.) in The Hill, and FCNL Feb-Mar 2018
In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, an outraged Congress passed an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) so that President Bush could “bring the perpetrators to justice.” That 2001 AUMF has since been used by three consecutive administrations to conduct a myriad of military operations across the Middle East, in Africa, and in Asia which have nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks — and American security is weaker as a result.
Following the 2001 war in Afghanistan, President Bush used the 2001 AUMF as justification for military action an additional 17 times, and President Obama used it 19 times. Donald Trump has picked right up where his predecessors left off.
In December 2017, Sen. Tim Kaine (VA) sent a letter to the Secretaries of State and Defense seeking clarification on the status of the reported 2,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Syria. In January, David J. Trachtenberg, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Policy), and Mary K. Waters, Assis- tant Secretary of State, provided official responses to Sen. Kaine’s questions.
Trachtenberg correctly claimed the 2001 AUMF “authorizes the United States to use force against al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces,” but then incorrectly added it also permitted actions “against ISIS.” The Islamic State didn’t exist for a full decade after the passage of the 2001 AUMF, so it clearly did not authorize military action against them. Trachtenberg also claimed the 2002 AUMF authorized the U.S. “to assist the government of Iraq both in the fight against ISIS, and in stabilizing Iraq following the destruction of ISIS’s so-called caliphate.” Such goals are outright nation-building efforts and have not been authorized by any congressional action.
Even using the wildest interpretations possible, no AUMF has ever authorized the U.S. government to assist the government of another country to fight internal battles, authorize military operations against ISIS supporters worldwide, or obligated the U.S. to restore basic services to cities throughout the Middle East. Even more critical, the conditions necessary to end our involvement are virtually impossible to attain.
Before the administration sends another soldier into harm’s way, Congress owes it to all uniformed service members to debate the matter and if useful, authorize it. However if they deem the mission unnecessary or unwise, Congress should refuse to appropriate one dollar. Unfortunately, Congress has not pushed back on a single military operation, funding all without complaint, and refusing to demand or employ a new authorization. The result has been as clear as it has been predictable: U.S. national security has not been improved by the myriad combat missions undertaken over the past 17 years, and in many parts of the world, the violence has only increased. That must now change.
As a Quaker organization, FCNL opposes all war. The 2001 and 2002 AUMFs have largely ceded to the executive branch Congress’ constitutional duty to decide where and when our country goes to war.
Congress should repeal both AUMFs.
Sen. Joe Donnelly 720 Hart Senate Off. Bldg. Washington, DC 20510
Sen. Todd Young 400 Russell Senate Off. Bldg. Washington, DC 20510
Rep. Luke Messer 1230 Longworth HOB Washington, DC 20515
Rep. Messer, Sen. _____________:
I am writing to urge you to support bipartisan legislation to repeal the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force which have been grossly abused to justify deployment of US forces into situations never intended by those laws. The Democratic National Committee recently passed a resolution calling for such an effort. The Republicans should join them.
By allowing the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs to be used for multiple unintended deployments with little oversight, Congress unwisely has ceded to the executive branch its constitutional authority over war-making.
As a Quaker follower of Christ, I oppose all war. As a matter of conscience, I ask that you help to repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs. For any new AUMF that might be sought to replace them, I urge you to insist upon (1) a specific sunset clause; (2) a clear definition of “associated forces or persons” who may be attacked; (3) prohibition of any new detentions at Guantanamo Bay; (4) prohibition of the use of US ground troops without explicit approval from Congress; and (5) clear geographic restrictions to protect Congress’ power to determine where US military force will be applied.
For the sake of peace, please use your influence in Congress to accomplish the repeal of the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, or explain to me why you will not do so.
To use FCNL’s “Contact Congress” utility: