Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Repealing the 2002 AUMF Won’t Be Enough To End Forever Wars

By Fiona Harrigan, Reason

Repealing the law that allowed America to depose Saddam Hussein won’t stop us from waging war elsewhere.

The House is expected to vote tomorrow on a bill introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D–Calif.) that would repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). Passed as the United States geared up for war against Saddam Hussein’s regime, the 2002 AUMF authorizes the president to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq,” using the U.S. Armed Forces “as he determines to be necessary.”

Authorizations like the 2002 AUMF empower the president to take military action without the approval of Congress, which is the sole body allowed to declare war according to the Constitution. Congress hasn’t formally declared war since World War II, but over the years it has passed laws that have given the president increasing amounts of discretion in military conduct (with decreasing amounts of oversight).

President Joe Biden voted in favor of the 2002 AUMF as a senator—but he’s now endorsing its repeal. “The administration supports the repeal of the 2002 AUMF, as the United States has no ongoing military activities that rely solely on the 2002 AUMF as a domestic legal basis,” read a Monday statement. “Repeal of the 2002 AUMF would likely have minimal impact on current military operations.”


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