— Michael Clayton —
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted 61-36 to kill Senator Rand Paul’s amendment that would have forced Congress to openly debate and authorize wars we are waging in seven different countries. The only Republicans to vote with Senator Paul were Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Dean Heller of Nevada.
Senator Paul’s amendment to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would have finally put an end to the 2001 & 2002 Authorizations for Military Force (AUMF) that the Bush, Obama, and now Trump administrations have all pointed to as their authority to wage endless unconstitutional wars.
But the Constitution gives the power to declare and initiate war only to Congress, and the Founding Fathers were explicit in not giving this power to the Executive. They knew that the Executive Branch was most likely to engage in war, and they wanted to use Congress to check that power. The President’s job as Commander-in-Chief gives him the power to direct the military after war has been declared by Congress.
Under the Constitution, it’s clear the AUMFs that passed Congress more than 15 years ago should not apply to the current conflicts our military is engaged in (Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and others).
Just have a look at the what the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs actually authorize. First, let’s start with the 2001 AUMF that is being used as the authority to continue the war in Afghanistan:
“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.”
And here’s the 2002 AUMF that authorized military force against Iraq:
“The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to — defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.”
How can anybody actually believe these authorizations still apply today? Bin Laden is dead and we overthrew and killed Saddam Hussein in Iraq, but violent extremism in the Middle East is considered worse than ever. What is victory? Can it be accomplished?
Senator Rand Paul’s stand against unconstitutional and undeclared wars should be applauded by every American who believes in freedom, justice, and the Constitution. The good Senator is just trying to get Congress to do their job. As the Senator wrote in an op-ed earlier this week:
“It’s time to demand the policymakers take their own jobs as seriously as the men and women we ask to risk it all for our nation.”
Even if you think we should be at war in all of these countries, Congress owes it to our men and women in uniform to openly debate and declare these conflicts first. At the very least victory should be clearly defined and we should get in and get out quickly as possible.
In 2019, men and women who were born after the war in Afghanistan began will be deployed there. It’s the longest running war in U.S. history, and it’s time to bring the troops home.
Here is a video of Senator Paul’s remarks yesterday on the Senate floor before the vote:
America’s Liberty PAC is thankful for Senator Rand Paul’s stand against unconstitutional and unauthorized wars, and we will continue to stand beside him. Please click here to support our cause.