By Pam Barker | TLB staff writer/analyst
Under the guise of fighting western-sponsored ISIL (or ISIS), Obama and the next president will be able to launch a war anywhere in the world, with no time limit and with full deployment of military ground troops if Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R) has his way.
McConnell surprised everyone, including his top deputy, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, just this past Wednesday night amid blizzard conditions in Washington by introducing a new AUMF or Authorization for the Use of Military Force against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria through invoking Rule 14 to avoid the committee stage, in this case the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The debate will thus not be placed on the Senate calendar, which would very likely result in fast tracking discussion of the bill. This after denying just last month any need to change the original AUMF that has been in place since 2001.
The Obama administration had put forward its own version of the AUMF in February of last year, which McConnell refused to entertain on the grounds that Obama allegedly had no strategy in place. Senate opinion was divided on the issue leading the committee to eventually drop the bill. The President’s version, it should be noted, did not call for use of ground combat troops and did provide an initial expiration date of three years.
The very first AUMF was signed by George W. Bush on September 18, 2001 as an immediate response to the attacks of 9/11, approving the use of all ‘necessary and appropriate force’ against those deemed responsible for the events of 9/11, the stated intention being to ‘protect U.S. citizens both at home and abroad’:
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.
The first authorization, it should be noted, has been controversially used by the Obama administration to go after ISIL even though the scope of the authorization was confined to just those deemed responsible for the events of 9/11. It was also controversial because no justification under the rule of law was ever given for declaring war on ISIL neither was a legal argument ever presented by the Justice Department.
Human Rights First weighed in on this original authorization, highlighting various problems including overreach and human rights violations:
Other than this [i.e. including a mission objective and operating within international law], the majority leader’s draft repeats the shortcomings of the 2001 AUMF. Passed days after the 9/11 attacks, the 2001 AUMF has been stretched far beyond Congress’s original intent to apply to groups that did not even exist at the time [i.e. ISIL]. It enabled policies that have eroded human rights protections and the rule of law, damaging U.S. security and global legitimacy.
To make good on these shortcomings, security law experts want any new AUMF agreement to:
- Clearly define the mission objective and the enemy
- Include robust reporting and transparency requirements sufficient to keep both Congress and the public informed
- Require compliance with U.S. obligations under international law
- Clarify that the authorization is the sole source of statutory authority to use force against ISIL to prevent confusion or overlap
- Set a sunset date for both the new ISIL AUMF and for the 2001 AUMF (which authorized force against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks) to ensure continued congressional support for the use of force as the conflict evolves
The McConnell version
The text of the new AUMF, largely a Republican initiative, makes it perfectly clear why ISIL is indeed the target. And as Humans Rights First notes, it does conform to international law. It also meets the congressional reporting requirements under the War Powers Act of 1973, including the requirement that the President submit a report every 60 days.
But if passed, it will permit unrestricted use of ground troops deployed in military combat along with an absence of both geographical limitations and a sunset date on all military operations. Endless wars of the Aghanistan and Iraq type are again possible. And all this in the hands of the President alone.
According to the National Journal:
The AUMF put forward by McConnell would not restrict the president’s use of ground troops, nor have any limits related to time or geography. Nor would it touch on the issue of what to do with the 2001 AUMF, which the Obama administration has used to attack ISIS despite that authorization’s instructions to use force against those who planned the 9/11 terrorist attacks. By contrast, the legal authority put forward by the administration last February wouldn’t authorize “enduring offensive ground combat operations” and would have ended three years after enactment, unless reauthorized.
Notes Tyler Durden of Zerohedge:
Rather than being a favor to President Obama, this is primarily a means to ensure that whoever takes control in 2017 receives a blank check for unrestrained militarism with no expiration date. This is terrifying.
Sorry, but wasn’t the entire idea of a legislative branch to precisely restrict what the President can do. Congress is purely ceremonial at this point. What an utter embarrassment.
McConnell’s authorization amounts to legal justification for war anywhere in the world at any time. But we need to pause over the geographical implications: anywhere means right here on our very own doorstep. And under the total discretion of the President. To reiterate, that’s military boots on the ground with unlimited scope of action and time right here in our own neighborhoods. It may never happen, but it risks becoming perfectly possible. ‘Ah but it’s meant to fight ISIL, not me.’ Indeed, but can we ever trust that those and only those who are truly fighting for ISIL will be the targets and not others according to an entirely different political agenda? Disturbingly, the definition of ‘terrorist’ is becoming more inclusive these days to cover a variety of people who simply disagree with government policy on a wide range of issues.
Further, the first AUMF was used to go after groups such as ISIL that didn’t even exist in 2001 and thus could not be included in the first authorization. With so much evidence already out there that ISIL is a creation of the NATO countries, just who is the real or additional target of this initiative? The possibilities for overreach are indeed worrying.
To what extent does this play right into the hands of the globalist new world order agenda which is already believed to be running the US? One wonders just where the Council on Foreign Relations fits into this picture. Could this authorize global NATO troop deployment in a much broader way?
If this is serving the globalist agenda, to what extent is this really a Republican versus Democrat initiative? Likely it’s just a piece of theatre paying lipservice to the notion of supposed ‘democracy’ at work when the globalists have already set the agenda. It will be interesting to see how the Democrats vote on this, but then it probably doesn’t matter very much.
About the author:
Pam Barker is a TLB staff writer/analyst. She has an extensive background in the educational system of several countries at the college and university level as a teacher and administrator.