For decades the Cold War allowed our nation’s militarists — and the weapons manufacturing corporations that fund them — to stampede the U.S. media and politicians and public into decades of recklessly wasteful military spending, including several wars and proxy wars and thousands of nuclear weapons. They said that this is Priority #1, so we could not afford bold efforts to end poverty, take care of the environment, or do other crucial work.
When the Cold War ended, those same vested interests — our nation’s militarists and the weapons manufacturers — and conservative elements that opposed solving our nation’s social and economic injustices — needed another excuse to keep those distorted federal budget priorities.
They were delighted when the 9-11 attacks occurred, because this created opportunities for new Endless Wars to replace the late, great Cold War. The 9-11 attacks also created an excuse to enact many, many plans for domestic repression that had been devised and put on the shelf to await an opportunity when they could be rushed through Congress. This was the origin of the PATRIOT Act. It was not really a response to the 9-11 attacks. Rather, it was a collection of repressive schemes that were merely awaiting an excuse to enact them without adequate discussion by Congress or the American people.
Just three days after September 11, 2001, the Bush/Cheney (or Cheney/Bush) regime and the obedient, compliant U.S. news media ramped up mindless fears and pushed Congress and the public into allowing a TOTALLY IRRELEVANT WAR wherever the president (or any future president) might choose to wage war.
The 9-11 attackers came from U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, but the U.S. attacked Afghanistan instead, starting on October 7, 2001. (Bush’s National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was on the board of a giant oil company that named a gigantic oil tanker for her. Oil companies wanted to build a pipeline through Afghanistan.)
In order to allow Bush/Cheney (or Cheney/Bush) to start an Endless War, Congress approved an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was really “a blank check for any president to wage war anywhere it the world, in perpetuity, without congressional input,” according to U.S. Representative Barbara Lee, a Democrat from California. She was the ONLY member of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote against the AUMF, and she has persisted in trying to get it repealed. She authored an article on page 26 of the July 16-23, 2018, issue of The Nation magazine (www.thenation.com).
The U.S. has WASTED TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS that we have needed for other purposes.
The U.S. has KILLED many Americans and DISABLED a great many thousands of other Americans. (Our slaughter of people in other nations has been much worse!) The war has deprived a great many thousands of Americans from leading normal, productive lives with families and jobs. The government has tried to avoid responsibility for healing or compensating the veterans.
The U.S.’s Endless War in Afghanistan has continued. By 2018 it had become the longest war in U.S. history. The AUMF has allowed U.S. war hawks (bi-partisan war hawks, including Obama’s 8 years of escalations) to use the AUMF to expand the Endless War into wars not only in Afghanistan but also in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Niger. The U.S. has NOT won any of those wars. Representative Barbara Lee’s article in The Nation reports that a 2018 report from the Congressional Research Service stated that “the 2001 AUMF has been used at least 41 times for military action in 18 different countries — and those are only the unclassified instances!”
In practically all of these cases, the U.S.’s military violence has only provoked more terrorism and killed many innocent people, and provoked many people into seeking refuge and/or asylum in other nations, including our European allies who refuse to accept responsibility for those refugees — just like the U.S. refuses to accept responsibility. The U.S. and many European countries have reacted to the refugee crisis that we caused by ESCALATING RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA against the victims of our Endless Wars.
Along with the PATRIOT Act, the AUMF has also been used to wiretap Americans without warrants.
Since 2001 Representative Lee has been urging Congress to repeal the 2001 AUMF and replace it with strategies for peace instead. Congress keeps refusing to do what the U.S. Constitution requires. The Constitution says only Congress can declare war, but Congress has been unconstitutionally abdicating its responsibility by letting any president have a “blank check” to start wars anywhere he wants.
In the summer of 2017 she succeeded in getting the bipartisan House Appropriations Committee to almost unanimously adopt her amendment to repeal the 2001 AUMF. But Trump got House Speaker Paul Ryan to unilaterally strip her amendment from the bill.
Her article in The Nation mentions that “the Senate is considering a proposal by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Bob Corker (R-TN) to update the 2001 AUMF. Depending how things shake out, she was concerned that their draft legislation could actually entrench presidential power over war-making, “extending this blank check in perpetuity.”
We need to pressure our U.S. Representatives and Senators to REPEAL the 2001 AUMF and demand strong strategies for peace.