Editor’s Be aware: US Rep. Barbara Lee is a Democrat representing California’s twelfth congressional district. She was the one member of Congress to vote in opposition to the 2001 AUMF to go to conflict in Afghanistan, and helped lead the opposition in opposition to the 2002 AUMF to go to conflict with Iraq. She is the co-chair of the Coverage and Steering Committee and serves on the Finances and Appropriations Committee. Bridget Moix is the final secretary of the Mates Committee on Nationwide Laws, a nationwide, nonpartisan Quaker group that lobbies the federal authorities to advance peace, justice and environmental stewardship. The views expressed on this commentary are their very own. View extra opinion articles on CNN.
Twenty years in the past, the US invaded Iraq.
There’s a tendency to file away chapters of American historical past of this magnitude as a tragedy of the previous, a somber anniversary to replicate upon earlier than redirecting our consideration again to the calls for of the current second. At present – after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s fast toppling led to eight years of brutal battle that killed greater than 126,000 Iraqi civilians and 4,500 US service members– the US and Iraqi governments think about themselves to be strategic companions.
However a harmful remnant of the Iraq conflict continues to be with us: the 2002 Authorization for Use of Navy Power Towards Iraq. And from our vantage factors, one in every of us within the halls of Congress, the opposite on the head of a Quaker peace group with hundreds of grassroots advocates nationwide, the momentum has by no means been stronger to lastly get this outdated laws off the books.
The 2002 Iraq AUMF was handed by Congress in October of that yr with overwhelming majorities in each chambers. We voiced our opposition on the time, however our calls have been drowned out by the drums of conflict. Our stance was rooted in issues that ended up coming to fruition — we felt that the US was speeding into conflict with out a full understanding of the state of affairs and we feared that such recklessness may spiral right into a protracted battle with no clear timeline.
The measure enabled the president to make use of the US armed forces as “crucial and acceptable” to “defend the nationwide safety of the US in opposition to the persevering with risk posed by Iraq.” A driving drive behind the AUMF was Saddam’s supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction — allegations that have been later revealed to be unfaithful. A couple of months later, the primary planes flew over the Iraqi border, kicking off a “shock and awe” conflict that will kill a whole bunch of hundreds and value greater than $800 billion.
Even after the conflict led to 2011, the 2002 Iraq AUMF lived on. Because the Obama administration carried out its marketing campaign in opposition to ISIS in 2014, officers cited the 2002 Iraq AUMF as one of many authorized justifications for strikes in Iraq and, later, Syria. When President Donald Trump took energy, his administration adopted go well with, leaning on the 2002 Iraq AUMF in 2018 to justify the continued use of drive in opposition to ISIS in Iraq and Syria, whereas reserving the suitable to additionally use it “elsewhere.”
That risk ought to be trigger sufficient to repeal it. However by permitting the authorization to stay on the books, lawmakers in Congress are additionally abdicating a core constitutional accountability. Our nation’s founders vested Congress with the only energy to resolve when and the place our nation goes to conflict, and this energy was granted for good cause: They knew that in a democratic system of checks and balances, nobody individual ought to have unilateral say over issues of conflict and peace.
Luckily, members of Congress from either side of the aisle have gotten more and more satisfied of this fact. Within the final session of Congress, a bipartisan invoice to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF handed the Home flooring by a vote of 268-161. Within the Senate, comparable laws from Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Republican Sen. Todd Younger of Indiana garnered 51 cosponsors.
This help has carried by way of to the 118th Congress — in our conversations with different lawmakers and grassroots advocates alike over the previous few weeks, we’ve heard a loud rising refrain of voices calling for repeal of the 2002 Iraq AUMF. From libertarian activists to veterans to pacificist organizations, from constitutional conservatives to progressives, there’s a broad and united name for motion that transcends celebration or faction.
The Senate is doing its half. On Thursday, the chamber cleared a key procedural hurdle to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF, setting the stage for a full flooring vote subsequent week. If and when the measure passes, the Home ought to transfer swiftly to carry a vote on its companion invoice, HR 932. President Joe Biden has indicated that he’ll signal the laws if it reaches his desk, and we should always take him up on that as quickly as potential.
Individuals are determined for an indication that Congress can nonetheless work throughout the aisle to bolster our democracy and create a safer world. By repealing the 2002 Iraq AUMF, lawmakers can exhibit their dedication to the structure and to reining in countless wars. Let this twentieth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq be greater than a second of remembrance. Let it function an inflection level in reasserting congressional authority over conflict, and let it’s a reminder that Republicans and Democrats can nonetheless be a part of arms for the sake of our structure and nation.