Time to End the War in Iraq

The War Powers Resolution 6-Month Report has gotten unusual attention because it officially announces we’re at war in Yemen and Somalia (though I suspect the Administration has only finally officially announced we’re at war against al Qaeda in Yemen precisely because we’re not, just).

While everyone’s looking, let’s look more closely at this bit:


The United States completed its responsible withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq in December 2011, in accordance with the 2008 Agreement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq on the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in Iraq.

Jeebus pete. Can’t we avoid propaganda like “responsible withdrawal” in even these bureaucratic communications? (Or “working closely with the Yemeni government to operationally dismantle … AQAP”?)

Nevertheless, even dripping with propagandistic language as it is, this passage seems to be official notice to Congress that the war in Iraq is over, done, kaput.

So now can we repeal the Iraq AUMF?

As you’ll recall, over six months ago, Rand Paul proposed an amendment to repeal the still-active Iraq AUMF. It failed miserably, 30-67. During the debate on it, a bunch of reasonable Democrats (and all the usual suspect unreasonable ones) stood up and blathered on about why we need an AUMF for a war that is over. If you asked now they’d probably point to the bad crowd Iraq is hanging out with in OPEC circles.

Iran and Iraq are forming a strengthening alliance inside Opec, raising concerns among moderate Arab Gulf producers like Saudi Arabia and increasing the potential for discord in the oil producers’ group.


A particular bone of contention was a proposal by Venezuela – backed by other Opec hardliners like Iran, Iraq and Algeria – that the group should protest against the EU sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear programme. The move was rebuffed by Saudi Arabia and other moderates including Nigeria, Libya and Kuwait, who argued that such protests were the preserve of foreign ministers, not oil ministers.

(Yes, you read that right: Saudi Arabia is considered a “moderate” state in this context.)

Or they’d point to the series of bombings al Qaeda in Iraq has claimed credit for recently.

But the real reason they won’t repeal an AUMF for a war that has officially ended is because that AUMF expands the authority to fight terrorism beyond simply al Qaeda to whatever “terrorist” groups the President claims is in armed conflict with and poses a threat to the US. Indeed, in Mark Udall’s effort to “fix” the NDAA, he even suggested the Iraq War AUMF pertained to “covered persons” who could be detained indefinitely under that law.

I know it sounds funny, having to insist on ending a war the Administration just informed Congress is over. But it’s not over.

8 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    If they repeal the Iraq AUMF, then they have to admit that the stuff they’re doing is illegal. And then they become liable for their actions in real courts that they can’t control. (Speed that day, dear Ghu!)

    Also, they might at some point have to admit that bombing people because you think someone in their village/jirga/wedding party/caravan is or might be a terrorist is a really good way to turn people into enemies, if not terrorists.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    There would be no need to withdraw or prosecute “responsibly” had we not already irresponsibly penetrated the target. It’s like a rapist arguing over whether he should have used a condom as opposed to whether he should have raped.

  3. The Five O'Clock Follies says:

    Remember the Five O’Clock Follies press conferences during the VietNam War that David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan ridiculed and scorned???

    well, here’s a version from the current fiasco in the 1,000 year war in Afghanistan:

    Attack on usa outpost in Afghanistan worse than originally reported

    A June 1, 2012 attack on a usa outpost near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border was much worse than originally disclosed by the military as Afghan Freedom Fighters pounded the base with a truck bomb, killing two Americans and seriously wounding about three dozen troops, officials acknowledged Saturday.

    The blast flattened the dining hall and post exchange at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost province, a frequent target of Afghan Freedom Fighters. Five Afghan civilians were killed and more than 100 other usa troops were treated for injuries. usa officials estimated that the truck was carrying 1,500 pounds of explosives.

    The scale of the attack and the extent of the usa casualties contrast with the official description presented by coalition forces on the day of the assault. In a clipped, one-paragraph news release on June 1, the military said usa and Afghan forces “successfully repelled the attack and secured the base.”

    The statement did not report any casualties, nor that there was a truck bomb.


  4. priceman says:

    I remember. I cited you when you wrote that piece outlining Rand Paul’s efforts to end the war did not succeed in this piece:


    And they’ll never officially end the war by repealing the AUMF. They love the powers it bestows, like they’ll never repeal the 2001 AUMF for Afghanistan even if we leave or “leave” which is where the NDAA comes in.(Thankfully the Judiciary in NY at least is not totally absent there at least in striking some of it down for now).

    The bottom line is there is no official end to the wars if their authorizations are not repealed so there is not much to celebrate. The fact that Democrats continue to pretend the President is antiwar, ended the wars(SOFA is what ended combat troop presence put forth by Bush admn) while they care not that the pernicious language within the AUMF will probably be with us forever is depressing.

  5. joanneleon says:

    I thought the NDAA did include the language from the Iraq AUMF and that that would allow them to repeal the Iraq AUMF.

    It’s impossible to keep up with all the details of the bad things being put into law at breakneck speed.

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