Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) this week attempted to attach a sunset for existing war authorization to the National Defense Authorization Act currently moving through Congress. Passage of the amendment would require lawmakers to do their constitutional job and debate whether new wars should have congressional approval. Unfortunately, it’s a a job the majority of lawmakers aren’t interested in doing.
Paul’s amendment would have placed a six-month sunset on the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force originally intended to green-light the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq following the 9/11 attacks. The War on Terror AUMFs have been used far beyond their originally intended scope in the 16 years since the first was issued– they’re now used by the White House to justify an ever-present (and now growing) military presence in the Middle East.
“What we have today is basically unlimited war – war anywhere, anytime, any place on the globe,” Paul told his Senate colleagues.
Unlimited war, apparently, is what the majority of Paul’s Senate peers want. The upper legislative chamber voted 61-36 Wednesday to table Paul’s amendment.
In a statement earlier in the week, Paul noted that a war authorization debate falls directly in line with the kind of foreign policy President Trump called for prior to entering the Oval Office. After taking office, Trump changed his tune. The Kentucky lawmaker said this is something that is going to continue happening regardless of who is in the White House unless Congress “grabs back the power to declare war.”
“Former President Obama, as a candidate, agreed that a President could not use military force without Congress’ permission unless we were under imminent attack. Once in the White House, however, President Obama bombed 7 different countries without Congressional authority,” Paul said. “Candidate Trump repeatedly argued that the Afghan War was a disaster and should end. Once in the White House, however, President Trump is escalating the war in Afghanistan just as President Obama did.”
Paul, adding that the current war authorizations represent the priorities and concerns of a previous generation, went on the ask: “Should one generation be able to bind another generation?”
“Realize if we don’t force these authorizations to expire, this war could go on forever,” Paul said. “This is Nineteen Eighty-Four, this is George Orwell saying, ‘Oceania has always been at war with East Asia’ and then a month later saying, ‘Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia,’ because no one is stepping up to say ‘no.'”
Paul said the “only way” to get Congress to do its job with regard to war authorization is to allow the current AUMFs to expire.
And he’s right. Just look at what opponents of the measure to allow the AUMFs to sunset had to say…
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Paul’s call for Congress to do its job in approving or blocking future military actions is “simply irresponsible” because it would create uncertainty.
“Sixteen years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, our enemies aren’t gone and our troops are still in harm’s way,” he said.
Isn’t that all the more reason to force the nation’s elected officials to have a frank discussion about the nature and payoff of the U.S.’s war efforts?
And after the national debt milestone last week, here’s the most important thing Paul said: “I think it’s time to think about the problems we’ve got here at home. I think it’s time to think about the $20 trillion national debt we’ve got.”
Sounds a lot like MAGA, back when MAGA was cool.
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