Time to End the Iraq War

In his speech on Thursday, President Obama said,

America is at a crossroads. We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us, mindful of James Madison’s warning that “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

Talking about the way the choices we make about war affect the freedom on which our way of life depends, Obama called for tweaking and, ultimately, repealing the September 18, 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force.

I intend to engage Congress about the existing Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, to determine how we can continue to fight terrorists without keeping America on a perpetual war-time footing.

The AUMF is now nearly twelve years old. The Afghan War is coming to an end. Core al Qaeda is a shell of its former self. Groups like AQAP must be dealt with, but in the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States. Unless we discipline our thinking and our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant Presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states. So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate. [my emphasis]

And yet … he said nothing about the 2002 Iraq War AUMF, the one he ran for President against in 2008.

Last we heard, remember, Rand Paul tried to repeal the Iraq AUMF just as the last US forces were being withdrawn in November 2011. That effort was voted down definitively, 67-30. 18 months later, that AUMF is still on the books.

A great speaker recently said said that “Unless we discipline our thinking and our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant Presidents unbound powers.” I’m all in favor of repealing the 2001 AUMF. But why not practice repealing AUMFs first, by formally ending the Iraq War that should never have been started?

 

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

11 replies
  1. harpie says:

    That AUMF is so useful, though, as you pointed out here

    Now, I don’t dispute that Daqduq could be charged (or could have been, while we were still at war–oh wait, that Iraq AUMF will never be repealed!)

    Lots of Dems voted against repeal, including Kerry and Levin.

    Maybe it wasn’t such a “dumb war” after all?

  2. justbetty says:

    The James Madison quote makes me wonder why the President didn’t invite Charles Pierce, who quotes Madison every day, to his big powwow with journalists – although Charles may have hesitated going there with Thomas Friedman and Joe Klein – just saying.

  3. Ben Franklin says:

    It’s rather like a substance abuser who protests his tenuous condition, but refuses to separate himself from the evil, just in case.

    His chief enablers have been the ‘Muddle’; Dems who consider themselves liberal, but without the fuss. Especially bloggers who populate and pander to that subset by encouraging the ambushing of anyone posting inconvenient critiques of POTUS. Libertarians like Paul or GGreenwald are a laughing stock especially when they take the High Road Progressives claim for themselves. John Cole, TBogg, Booman, lawyers, gunz and munney, are just a few examples of why POTUS has gotten a pass on civil liberties.

  4. der says:

    Obama: “Today, the core of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on a path to defeat. Their remaining operatives spend more time thinking about their own safety than plotting against us. They did not direct the attacks in Benghazi or Boston. They have not carried out a successful attack on our homeland since 9/11.”

    – “Moreover, America’s actions are legal. We were attacked on 9/11. Within a week, Congress overwhelmingly authorized the use of force. Under domestic law, and international law, the United States is at war with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces. We are at war with an organization that right now would kill as many Americans as they could if we did not stop them first. So this is a just war – a war waged proportionally, in last resort, and in self-defense.”
    *******
    – What is a Just War?

    Six conditions must be satisfied for a war to be considered just:

    The war must be for a just cause.
    The war must be lawfully declared by a lawful authority.
    The intention behind the war must be good.
    All other ways of resolving the problem should have been tried first.
    There must be a reasonable chance of success.
    The means used must be in proportion to the end that the war seeks to achieve.

    – How should a Just War be fought?

    A war that starts as a Just War may stop being a Just War if the means used to wage it are inappropriate.

    Innocent people and non-combatants should not be harmed.

    Only appropriate force should be used. This applies to both the sort of force, and how much force is used.

    Internationally agreed conventions regulating war must be obeyed.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/war/just/what.shtml

    The pictures flash up on a screen on an upper floor of the Fallujah General Hospital. And all at once, Nadhem Shokr al-Hadidi’s administration office becomes a little chamber of horrors. A baby with a hugely deformed mouth. A child with a defect of the spinal cord, material from the spine outside the body. A baby with a terrible, vast Cyclopean eye. Another baby with only half a head, stillborn like the rest, date of birth 17 June, 2009. Yet another picture flicks onto the screen: date of birth 6 July 2009, it shows a tiny child with half a right arm, no left leg, no genitalia.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-the-children-of-fallujah–the-hospital-of-horrors-7679168.html

    Expanding the National Security State under the guise that the world is a battlefield wherein the shapeshifting amorphous (intentional contradiction) enemy may be your neighbor. “Report Suspicious Activity”.

    Our Elites.

  5. spiny says:

    Obama’s words and actions are largely dissonant because of the basic political calculation that enabled his success: pretty words for his supporters, concrete actions for his funders. When the two align (rarely) we can see a decent policy or two come out of the administration. Unfortunately, most of the time he is just blowing smoke up our asses… and this instance is probably no different.

  6. P J Evans says:

    @spiny:
    He cares about Wall Street, his big donors, and what the GOP in Congress thinks. The rest of us don’t really register except in election years, and not much then.

  7. john francis lee says:

    This is what BOb has done for past five going on six years … said one weasely thing – interpreted in the ‘hopeful’ light by his dupes and the media – then done the exact opposite of their ‘hopeful’ interpretation.

    The DoD forecast at least 10 to 20 more years of ‘war’ … while ‘war’ itself has now been redefined as targeted US/EU terror against selected targets.

    The DoD don’t talk to the ‘financials’ who are busy stuffing all their pockets and their socks with QE money, while the rest of the world buys gold, knowing that the end is near for the dollar … which will end life as it is known in the USA. And the USA’s reign of terror along with it.

    On balance I’m for collapse. It’s clear that as a nation we have not got what it takes to rein in our rogue government, so suicide by currency collapse seems the only way out.

  8. diedas says:

    Thanks for the classic BBC just-war hasbara, der. ‘Just war’ is CIA digging up medieval theology to obscure binding humanitarian law. War is not just or unjust. War is legal or illegal. War is legal iff it conforms to UN Charter Chapter VII. End of story. We’ll live to see Obama trying to talk his way out of criminal-aggression charges by counting angels on the head of a pin. That will be a hoot.

  9. Bill Michtom says:

    @Ben Franklin It’s fortunate that you label Greenwald as a libertarian. It makes the rest of your comment easier to write off as the total misrepresentation it is.

  10. orionATL says:

    @Ben Franklin:

    this comment of yours really damages your reputation with me – though i’ve done some of those myself.

    you may not like greenwald – i do – but you deny at the severe cost of your own credibility his intellectual honesty. further, his extraordinary skill and precision of speech in argumentation for what would have been called in the old days “humanism” are unsurpassed in contemporary political commentary. he is an alologist for no party or person.

    to lump juan cole in a critical category with booman is inane.

    tbogg may annoy you but, he is a brillant political “ridiculist”, an astonishingly verbally capable puncturer of vapid political ballons. i suspect he understands that nothing kills in politics like ridicule – assuming it’s widedpread.

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