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Wake for War Authorization

Authorization's reflections

[Originally written in comments section, in reference to the March 2 piece on Michael O'Hanlon and the Brookings Institute]

“I disagree with the claim that rescinding the 2002 AUMF would be “irrelevant” or “largely symbolic” , a legislative move that would “in no way stop the war, shorten the war, bring the troops home, even gradually, cut off funding or anything else.” Repealing the 2002 Congressional authorization that makes the current occupation of Iraq “legal” as a matter of US domestic law is an important and constructive first step towards reasserting a legislative check upon the runaway militarism of the current executive branch.

Any elected representative, Democratic or GOP, who can’t bring themselves today to publicly disavow the patently false assertions in that Act about fictional WMD, and a supposed cooperative Saddam/Osama relationship imminently threatening the United States with another (worse) terrorist attack like 9/11, would be exposed as hopelessly out of touch with reality and the will of a substantial majority of American voters. You call for a vote to repeal, rescind, and wipe that authorization statute off the books - complete with its repeat hypocritical references to the sanctity of UN resolutions and obeying international law - for the same reasons Karl Rove pushed for a vote in the fall of 2002: make the sombitches stand up and be counted.

Simple straightforward repeal of the 2002 AUMF would be a straightforward, categorical rejection of George Bush’s continued occupation of Iraq. Nobody can coherently accuse anybody of micromanaging battlefield strategy, knifing the troops in the back, or failing to support their efforts. Passing statutes, repealing statutes, or if need be replacing old statutes with new statutes is exactly what we elect legislators in the House and Senate to do. If little George vetoed the repeal, then let’s have a vote to override by the needed 2/3 majority. If this legislative approach falls short, then its clearly time to use the blunter remedy of targeted funding cutoffs, or maybe have Mr. Conyers start impeachment hearings on other high crimes and misdemeanors (like torture, warrantless wiretapping by NSA, and criminal misuse of tax funds).

Repeal would enable individual soldiers, or maybe whole groups of volunteer citizen soldiers, to refuse deployment into an illegal war. It would also set the stage for the next logical step of the process: when the White House comes back for another supplemental appropriation, the White House will need to present a new draft authorization, one acceptable to American voters who “know now what I wish I’d known then”, for legal authority to justify a continued US military presence in Iraq. Fat chance. To my way of thinking, the legislative tactic of repeal is “symbolic” or “nonbinding” or “irrelevant” if and only if you buy into George Bush’s view that the Decider can simply ignore the law of the land as it is written. But until Congress takes the critical first step of withdrawing its existing open ended assent to continued waging of warfare in Iraq, the Commander in Chief will continue to thumb his nose at the world, and dare the American parliament to do something about it.”

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