AUMF 2018 and the "forever war" in the Middle East

by Renee Parsons

“War is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on May 16th regarding the authorization of a new Authority for the Use of Military Force 2018 (AUMF). Despite a current lack of unanimity on the committee, the draft authorization (SJ Res 59) has been brought forward as a working document despite the lack of successful back-room negotiations in recent weeks. The hearing was conducted with no quorum present, the lack of which denied the sponsors an easy vote of approval.
The AUMF 2018 would replace AUMF’s 2001 and 2002 which proponents suggest would remove the onerous Constitutional responsibility from a self-proclaimed over-burdened Congress from voting to approve every single separate act of war. While final approval of the AUMF 2018 represents a “Forever Vote,” product of a low vibration consciousness, the ACLU, which should be leading a vigorous national campaign against the proposal, appears absent from the debate.
Approval of a one-size-fits-all AUMF will greatly facilitate the Pentagon’s long held desire to ‘take out’ seven countries in five years – although somewhat behind the original timeline, military conflict is ongoing throughout the Middle East and will allow dramatic escalation in each of those countries without meaningful accountability or Constitutional Congressional oversight.
Since the Congress has already exhibited a penchant for an inability to govern, why have a Foreign Relations Committee at all if their single, most essential Constitutional reason for existence of whether to take the country to war is eliminated?
When the draft AUMF 2018 was introduced by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) retiring Chair of the Committee in mid-April, he suggested that a strong vote in the Committee would translate into strong support on the Senate floor. After all, even members of the Senate are sensitive to not publicly dismembering their own Constitutional prerogative on a close vote.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-SC) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Or) had both previously announced their opposition to AUMF and both spoke at the hearing against the proposal. Sen. Paul opened with a spirited assault on the AUMF as “flipping the Constitution on its head” eliminating the majority vote in favor of a two-thirds vote required to override Presidential action while allowing the unfettered expansion of war throughout the Middle East.
Since the 2001 AUMF, the status quo has reigned with every President initiating war with the assumption that they had the authority to ‘stretch’ the AUMF to fit current circumstances. Paul argued that by codifying Presidential authority as the 2018 version would do, an opportunity for legal challenges to Presidential authority would be removed. Unrestrained war without the pesky need for Congressional participation is, of course, exactly what the pro-war Republicrats who control the Senate and their MIC benefactors are hoping for. As an example of how a new AUMF might function, Paul said he had not yet figured out ‘why we are chasing a herdsman in Mali?”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va) avid co sponsor of the proposal and HRC’s running mate in 2016, declared that “Congress needs to send a message to our troops, one of them is one of my kids, that the missions they are fighting and dying for, against non-state terrorist groups, has the support of Congress.” Kaine did not explain how codifying the legality of all future undeclared wars will somehow improve the morale of American troops.
One of the two hearing witnesses was Rita Siemion, Adjunct Professor of Law, Human Rights First, George Washington University who provided effective testimony which attracted Kaine to focus his laser on her.

Kaine: Do you support the need for continuing US military action against Taliban, Isis and al Qaeda?
Siemion: I think the use of military force is something that the president should be coming to Congress…
Kaine [interrupts]: Well, can I just say…we are currently engaged in military action against al Qaeda, Isis and the Taliban, do you support need for that action or don’t you?
Siemion: I think that hard questions need to be asked of the administration about what are we achieving by use of military force over the long term….”
Kaine [interrupts again]: So you are not prepared to say today whether you do or do not support the action that our troops are currently engaged in against ISIA, al Qaeda and the Taliban?
Siemion: I think that there are currently real questions that need to be answered about the efficacy of using military force…
Kaine: Let me ask a second question then. I think from your testimony that you would agree, separating this resolution, that the 2001 authorization should be rewritten/or replaced? Do I understand that to be your testimony?
Siemion: I agree that the status quo is incredibly problematic.
Kaine: So then let me be more specific….do you think it should it be repealed with no replacement or rewritten and then replaced?
Siemion: I think if Congress agrees that use of military force is required and appropriate and it is demonstrated it can be effective for addressing particular terrorist threats, then Congress should authorize military force against those particular groups.
Kaine: I understand that. Obviously if somebody does not think we should be using military force against alQaeda, Isis or the Taliban, then they should vote no on this…they should not vote for an authorization. That’s a good reason to vote no if you do not support the military action that our troops are currently engaged in against al Qaeda, Isis and the Taliban.

In addition to his attempt to make Siemion look unpatriotic, if Kaine’s goal was to intimidate Sen. Merkley who was next to address the panel, he failed.
Merkley focused on legal contradictions and broad interpretations within the AUMF providing the President with a new legal foundation to decide or interpret particular sections that otherwise would be the purview of Congress. Merkley further cited that “the bottom line, what we have before us, codifies the existing situation, gives fresh authority for what has been done since 2001 and I fundamentally believe that delegation was not intended in 2001 and is not appropriate now.” He referred to the Federalist Papers on “how they decided to give that war making power to Congress, that it should not be in the hands of one single person; it is too big an issue, the lives of our soldiers, our sons and daughters, is too big an issue to open that door and I believe they were exactly right. There is a fundamental reason behind that and it is still relevant today.”
At conclusion of the hearing, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) the committee’s ranking member directly addressed Kaine in that he:

…reject as a false choice that voting against this, when it comes time for that if this is what the final product is, that voting against this proposal is a vote against our troops in the field. No. I reject the proposition that it’s either this or you are not with our troops. That’s ridiculous.”

Kaine replied to:

…clarify and the transcript would show this, I think, that I certainly did not suggest that if you vote against the AUMF, you are against the troops who are currently fighting. I did not suggest that. I did suggest if you are against military action, that is good reason to oppose our proposal. I was engaging in questions of the witness to see if she agreed we should be engaged in military action against these groups. She would not offer an opinion upon that.”

With Secretary of State Pompeo scheduled to testify before Foreign Relations on Thursday, May 24th to clarify the Trump administration’s position on AUMF proposal, a Committee mark up can be expected soon thereafter.
If qui bono is applied here and since the new AUMF would presumably focus on ‘terrorists’ and sovereign nations throughout the Middle East, Israel would appear to be the beneficiary of the dismantling of Congress’ Constitutional obligations. Therefore, it is instructive that fourteen out of twenty one Foreign Relations members were identified by the Center for Responsive Politics on their Top Twenty list of recipients of Pro-Israel PACs or individuals who donated over $200.

  • Menendez (D-NJ) 2012/2016: $623,508
  • Rubio (R-Fl) 2016: $468,307
  • Booker (D-NJ) 2014: $434,126
  • Cardin (D-Md) 2012/2018: $415,993
  • Portman (R-Oh) 2016: $235,280
  • Johnson (R-Wis) 2016: $231,814
  • Shaheen (D-NH) 2014: $203,149
  • Kaine (D-Va) 2018: $167,878
  • Coons (D-De) 2014: $133,300
  • Udall (D-NM) 2016: $110,379
  • Barasso (R-Wy) 2018: $105,400
  • Corker (R-Tenn) 2012: $102,950
  • Markey (D-Mass) 2014: $100,450
  • Murphy (D-Ct) 2018: $65,221
  • Either the remaining seven Committee members did not receive sufficient Pro-Israel PAC money to qualify for the Top Twenty list or they received no Pro-Israel PAC money.

    Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist for Friends of the Earth and a staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31


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    Categories: empire watch, latest, terrorism
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    May 25, 2018 3:10 PM

    Yup, its just show, circus and bread, been done since time immemorial, aka pre-internet, and now, the kabuki is in full force, and drivel is thrown in all directions. What bugs me, is that nothing is new, abolutelly nothing, this show is precislly like the previous ones, and the ones before that, and back to the birth of this criminal nation, bases it on perpetual war, winning is way to expencive, so its better to just flatt bomb anything moving, or standing stil, like infrastructure witch is their speciality, done for so long I can remember, never forget North-Korea, and I grew up in an place, that was the second moust bombed city in the western world during ww2, did you know that, in Norway, even if it is in Norway, they never talk about that, only the ocupyed Oslo, after Valeta in Malta. The Litza front. I had so… Read more »

    Big B
    Big B
    May 25, 2018 9:32 AM

    The irony may be lost: but ACLU is a Soros front, part of his #Resistance ‘People Power’ organisers, best known for Pussy Hats and Charlottesville. The article seems genuine enough, and I can cast no aspersions at the author: but I merely wanted to point out that the ACLU is also active in training and organising anti-Trump protesters. So the grander irony is of a Soros front affiliate criticising, quite legitimately, the egregious AUMF; which creates is a perpetual demand for military materiel, that Soros orders (through his Eminence Grise McCain) in NDAA markups for his buddies at Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. This is just a small example of how the ‘resistance’ manipulated dissent, agitprop political climate and permanent war climate of exported death and destruction, are all sewn into the web of the business model of the upper one percent. Would it be too much to infer that all… Read more »

    May 24, 2018 9:04 PM

    And one more on the Topic:
    “The US Power Elite and Plan B”: https://wipokuli.wordpress.com/2018/05/24/the-us-power-elite-and-plan-b-die-us-machtelite-und-plan-b/

    John Marks
    John Marks
    May 24, 2018 6:54 PM

    This isn’t democracy. It’s an auction. These guys are all bought.
    Remember Roosevelt?
    “The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism – ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. ”
    FD Roosevelt
    Washington, 29/4/1938

    May 24, 2018 7:10 PM
    Reply to  John Marks

    Roosevelt was such a nice guy – except for being a 33rd degree freemason, the highly occulted construction of the Pentagon, his use of surveillance on political rivals, the New Deal which was about increased indebtedness more than anything else, the alphabet agencies that prepared young American men for their military service that was just around the corner, his true role in Pearl Harbor, his reluctance to bomb the death camps, his enthusiasm for bombing cities and the strange circumstances that positioned Harry S Truman ready to take over from him.
    Another hero with feet of clay the more one looks.

    May 24, 2018 3:05 PM

    The inane comments by Senator Tim Kaine (Hillary’s chosen vice presidential candidate) show just what a lovely couple he and Mrs. Clinton would have made in the eyes of the Pentagon, the entire military industrial complex of the U.S., and war crazed psychopaths everywhere, had they only been elected to the U.S. presidency. The U.S. has moved from being a permanent war economy post-WWII, to now being simply a permanent war state, one capable of producing almost nothing in our domestic economy except armaments for sale and dead bodies strewn about the planet. Unless Europe stands up to and resists the combined U.S. / Israeli lawlessness and criminality in trying to sabotage the Iran deal, it is hard to imagine any other long-term outcome for the planet except a war that will threaten human extinction.

    May 24, 2018 5:42 PM

    Trump’s senile Ambassador to Britain, Woodenhead Johnson. has told/advised/recommended/ordered Britain to stop spending money on its formidable state healthcare system, the National Health Service )NHS) – in order to bump up needless outlay on NATO-related costs.
    (Times paywall – but the gist of the ‘Ambassador’s’ speech is clear)
    Johnson’s doing a fine job of making sure the Jackbooted Jerk is met by the most hostile anti-American protests Europe has ever seen – when Trump arrives in Britain on 13th July, next month

    Harry Law
    Harry Law
    May 24, 2018 6:09 PM

    But they are the leaders of the free world and where they lead others must follow, thus the US say don’t deal with Iran, don’t deal with Russia, and to all the members of NATO they must spend at least 2% of their GNP on the US military industrial complex, there are no free rides. Then to the rest of the world, countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE they must spend hundreds of billions of dollars on armaments and invest in the US economy in order to be protected by the US. Yes the US is one huge protection racket, whose government send Ambassadors around the world and to the UN threatening other nations with the terrors of the earth unless they do America’s bidding. The current US president or capofamiglia the ‘Don’ is aptly named and is just the person General Smedley Butler had in mind when writing… Read more »

    Harry Law
    Harry Law
    May 24, 2018 6:42 PM
    Reply to  Harry Law

    German businesses should immediately halt their operations in Iran following President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, the US ambassador to Germany said on Tuesday. https://www.thelocal.de/20180509/us-tells-german-businesses-to-stop-trade-in-iran-immediately Plus, billions of dollars in fines on German and French banks for dealing with Iran several years ago, when will these vassals gain some self respect and tell the arrogant hegemon GFY?

    Mulga Mumblebrain
    Mulga Mumblebrain
    May 24, 2018 9:16 PM
    Reply to  Harry Law

    They cannot do that Harry, because behind Thanatopolis DC stands an even more powerful bullying thug-the Zionist regime headed by an elite of the most savage racist murderers imaginable, and who, through the power of the sayanim and the Israel Lobby Fifth Columns, control all the Western regimes. Europe will do what Bibi and his puppet Trump tell them to do-or else.

    Mulga Mumblebrain
    Mulga Mumblebrain
    May 24, 2018 9:13 PM
    Reply to  Harry Law

    I’d like to agree, but the Zionist regime and its ruling elites are nothing if not psychopaths, whose perverted religion cum ideology demands blood sacrifices, and territorial expansion to the bounds of Eretz Yisrael. When you are aware, despite total Western fakestream media suppression, of the unending litany of Israeli barbarity, cold-blooded murder, (often deliberately targeting children), mass torture over decades, the assassination of scores of Palestinian and other leaders, (often with family members, neighbours or bystanders), and the fomenting and financing of Islamophobic hatred throughout the world, to imagine Israel somehow becoming any other than, as Dayan recommended, a rabid dog scaring the tripe out of everyone, seems truly bizarre.

    May 24, 2018 11:33 PM

    At least with rabid dogs, we know what to do with them to put them out of their misery as well as everyone else’s misery.

    May 25, 2018 8:03 PM
    Reply to  Jen

    Lol, just read Rabbi’d for a moment there , huh?
    The powers of suggestion, clever jen 😉

    May 24, 2018 2:51 PM

    The Orwellian World!
    See also:
    „Geo-Politics: The Core of Crisis and Chaos and the Nightmares of the US Power Elite“ https://wipokuli.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/geo-politics-the-core-of-crisis-and-chaos-the-nightmares-of-the-us-power-elite/