Peace is Possible   Peace Is Possible    10 November 2019

They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks…. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.  ….They will neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mountain….  (Isaiah 2:4; ll:9)

 Ending the Endless Wars

   adapted from Heather Brandon-Smith, FCNL     October 2019

Since September 11, 2001, three US presidents have used the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and the 2002 Iraq AUMF to justify US military action across the globe without congressional approval.  According to public records, the 2001 AUMF has been used to justify 41 military operations in 19 countries.

The founders specifically placed the power to declare war in the hands of Congress. In the prescient words of James Madison, “The Constitution supposes what history demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch most prone to war and most interested in it, therefore the Constitution has with studied care vested that power in the Legislature.” 

The War Powers Act of 1973 clearly requires the president to: 1) consult with Congress before committing troops to war; 2) notify Congress within 48 hours after introducing military forces into hostilities or into situations where hostilities are imminent; and 3) end foreign military actions after 60 days unless Congress specifically authorizes them.

 Article II of the Constitution gives the president constitutional authority to use limited military force without congressional approval to defend the United States against a sudden or imminent attack.  But under Article I of the Constitution, Congress has the sole authority to decide whether to allow the president to take the country into a prolonged war.  As a Quaker organization, FCNL opposes all war.  As a matter of public policy, we believe Congress must debate and vote before the president commits our military to lethal action and should regularly evaluate and vote on whether to continue ongoing US wars.

Three days after 9/11, Congress gave the president advance permission to use military force against anyone who planned, authorized, committed, or aided those attacks, or who harbored such groups. In theory, that only should have applied to the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.  But later, the Bush administration developed the concept of “associated forces” – which three administrations have now used to expand the war to more than half a dozen groups around the world.

 This year, the House of Representatives has — for the first time — voted to repeal the 2001 AUMF after eight months, and to repeal the 2002 AUMF immediately.  The 2001 AUMF repeal provision is included in the Defense Appropriations bill, and the 2002 AUMF repeal provision is in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  We urge Congress to include these AUMF repeal provisions in the final bills.

There is bipartisan support in Congress to reign in presidential power and these ever-expanding wars. Veterans groups on both sides of the aisle support AUMF repeal.  More war has not brought more peace.  It is long past time for Congress to acknowledge that failed US war policies have contributed to greater instability.  A foreign policy that looks for warning signs, invests in peacebuilding, and engages in a robust debate prior to authorizing any military attack will make the world safer.


 Sample Letter

 Sen. Todd Young    400 Russell Senate Off. Bldg.    Washington, DC  20510


Sen. Mike Braun    B85 Russell Senate Off. Bldg.     Washington, DC  20510


Rep. Greg Pence            222 Cannon HOB               Washington, DC  20515



Sen. ______________, Rep. Pence:

 I am writing to add my voice to those of the Quakers who will visit your Washington office in mid-November to urge you to support inclusion of the House provisions for repealing the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs in the final Defense Appropriations bill and the NDAA.

 Those AUMFs must be repealed for a number of reasons.  First, they lack a sunset clause, making it easy for presidents to apply them to an endless succession of conflicts.  Second, they lack clear military targets, again making it easy for a president to cite them in starting a war against a new country or group without congressional debate and approval.  Third, they have no geographic restrictions, thus allowing deployment of US force anywhere on earth without Congress’ approval or oversight.  And fourth, they contain no restrictions on the use of US ground troops.

The 2001 and 2002 AUMFs have been stretched far beyond constitutional and War Powers Act limits by the past three administrations to take unauthorized military actions in nearly twenty places around the world, leaving a long trail of civilian deaths, long-lasting animosity, and spilled American blood and treasure.  All that war has not increased peace or stability — quite the opposite.  It is time for Congress to reassert its legal authority over US use of military force.

 As a Christian, I oppose war on principle as contrary to the way of Jesus.  As your constituent, I certainly oppose it when it is unlawfully undertaken.  Please support repeal of the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs and restore Congress’ lawful authority over American participation in war.