I appreciate efforts that U.S. Sen. Rand Paul made last year to get the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) dating from 2001 repealed. Hopefully, he will continue that advocacy.
And our other two members of Congress, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr and Sen. Mitch McConnell, should also support AUMF repeal. Here’s why:
On Sept. 14, 2001, Congress passed an AUMF to enable President Bush to respond to the Sept. 11 attacks by invading Afghanistan. It was not anticipated then that the U.S. would still be militarily engaged in Afghanistan 17 years later. Nor was it foreseen that three Presidents (Bush, Obama and Trump) would each cite the vaguely worded 2001 AUMF as authorizing insertion of U.S. military forces into conflicts in 20 additional countries around the world.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently expressed interest in launching a war against Iran, suggesting that no congressional authorization would be needed for such an action because both the 2001 AUMF about Sept. 11 and Afghanistan and the 2002 AUMF about Iraq are still in effect. (Message to Pompeo, Trump and Bolton: 2002 was a long time ago and Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran are separate countries.)
Article I of the Constitution prudently gives Congress, not the president, the power to declare war. So, Congress should fulfill its constitutionally mandated responsibility to oversee war-making. Repeal of the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs will result in presidents either eventually withdrawing military forces from various places or obtaining country-specific authorizations from Congress to continue those deployments.