Reining in the Ubiquitous Use of Military Force, by Arshad M. Khan

Representative Barbara Lee (D-California) was the only representative who voted in 2001 against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which was intended to authorize the war in Afghanistan, but has been stretched to cover every US intervention since then. Last July, she proposed repealing that authorization. House Speaker Paul Ryan deleted her proposal, but Lee deserves some credit for opposing the American pastime: foreign wars. From Arshad M. Khan at

Four US soldiers died in Niger on October 4, and the president’s insensitive phone call to the widow of one has brought the subject of the military in every corner of the world back in the news.

The UN has 193 members. The US has over 240,000 troops in at least 172 of them, some of which are embroiled in what The New York Times describes as “forever wars”. How many people knew there was a contingent of more than 1,000 in Niger? Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader and thus the highest ranking Democrat, did not. Neither did Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican who serves on the Armed Forces Committee. Or, Senator Rand Paul who wants the post 9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to be reviewed.

It is now 16 years since the AUMF was passed, and the US is no longer responding to an attack on the mainland nor is it in any immediate peril. So why this flagrant insult to the Constitution, which wisely reserved the power to declare war for Congress alone. Yes, we live in a different world; yes, we are confronted with non-state actors. At the same time, we also live in a world of instant communication. How difficult could it be then for Congress to respond quickly when necessary?

In September, the Senate voted 61-36 against Senator Rand Paul’s AUMF amendment calling for another look. He denounced it as a recipe for “unlimited war, anywhere, anytime, any place upon the globe,” adding “I don’t think one generation should bind another generation to war.” One can only commend his steadfastness in forcing a vote. “Who in their right mind thinks Congress is going to do their job without being forced to do their job?” commented Senator Paul.

In the House, Representative Barbara Lee’s (D-California) repeal amendment last July was stripped off the defense authorization bill by Speaker Paul Ryan according to her in the “dead of night” in a move she called, “underhanded and undemocratic.”

To continue reading: Reining in the Ubiquitous Use of Military Force


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