The United States has been operating under the same Authorization for Use of Military Force for 15 years. Although many politicians have taken issue with that, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, has finally produced results: He got a Senate vote on the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs for the first time since passage.
Many view that achievement is nothing short of a milestone for a Constitution-based war powers policy.
The 2001 and 2002 AUMFs resulted in endless war
Three days after 9/11, Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists. One year later, in preparation for the Iraq War, Congress expanded the President’s war powers by passing the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution.
Those two AUMFs have been used as justification for every military intervention since then, including the current war against the terrorists group ISIS in Syria.
It should be clear that authorization cannot be intended to fight terrorist groups not in existence when the authorization was passed. Indeed, the 2001 AUMF was extremely specific in its wording to include only authorization of force against the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks:
IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
The 2002 AUMF was also specific in naming the Iraq as its primary focus.
Nonetheless, those authorizations have been used to send United States troops into in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Georgia, Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, and Somalia.
That is a clear usurpation of the original powers provided to the president by Congress. And it’s a violation of the spirit of those two authorizations. That’s why a vote to repeal them is so important.
Rand Paul has lead the fight against endless war
Paul has been leading the charge to get a vote on AUMF repeal since he elected to the Senate in 2010. Seven years of hard work finally paid off when granted a vote on Wednesday, September 13.
If the measure passes, it will mark the first blow against endless war in 15 years. The amendment would place a six month sunset on the current AUMF allowing for a debate on Congressional war powers.
Rand Paul explains just how important such a vote would be here:
I urge the senate to adopt my amendment…There will be no real debate on war unless we pass this resolution. I yield back my time. pic.twitter.com/YYsCacN3Ft
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) September 13, 2017
(Photo of Senator Rand Paul by Gage Skidmore, used with permission.)
UPDATE: Rand Paul’s Amendment Fails
Shortly after this article was published the Senate moved to kill Rand Paul’s amendment to sunset the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs. More to follow.