Our ‘Perpetual War’

It might surprise some to learn that after we supposedly ended the Iraq war three years ago, the original 2002 “Authorization to Use Military Force” NEVER EXPIRED. And it has even been used to expand operations elsewhere, such as drone attacks in other countries.

In other words, Congress authorized a permanent war in the Middle East, and as George W. Bush and Barack Obama have interpreted it, that authority is now used to do just about anything anywhere, however a president wants it done.

The Congressional Research Service confirms the original authority had no expiration date and has not been repealed. Therefore it remains current law, “although its continued effectiveness is questionable. Arguably, the president could rely on it to reintroduce forces into Iraq if he determined that Iraq once again posed a threat to U.S. national security.”

And there’s the rub, No. 1: Presidents get to define that national security threat. In Thursday’s press conference Obama vaguely cited threats “to the homeland” if Iraq’s insurgents are not put down. That’s more subtle, but in the same ballpark, as Bush Administration claims there’d be nukes over Atlanta and terrorists in your neighborhood Walmart if Saddam Hussein was not wiped out.

Here’s the rub, No. 2: Congress secretly likes it this way. Letting presidents make war without restrictions shifts responsibility, so that if it goes badly lawmakers can blame the White House and tell voters they knew better, that they would have done this or that to assure success.

That’s why, although Congress could repeal this unlimited authority at any time, and despite how so many senators, current and former, including Hillary Clinton, have recanted their vote for it, this Orwellian “perpetual war” goes on.

28 thoughts on “Our ‘Perpetual War’”

  1. One of the more salient points of thought, along a trail that is not illuminated until after one has travelled, is to remember that you have passed that way and are continuing to look for the trail head. A novel that is critical to understanding my opening sentence and the 2002 Authorization to Use Force is Catch 22.

    That there exists real “Catch 22’s” is important. Some are on purpose, some are the result of a redaction of some line or word that, now non-existent, creates a circular situation that has no answer.

    Although my brain is full of fun things, very few are relevant to the current situation. I had a knee ‘scoped (and mostly gutted) last Thursday. Whatever I have written since last Thursday morning, I must apologize for if it made less sense than my usual ramblings.

    Modern pharmacopeia is wonderful. Taking what were dangerous and difficult opiates of the 1890’s and giving them new coatings is great. I am now four days off the table and titrating from my good meds. The knee will be better than before, but will never be as good as it was when I was 18.

    Whatever happened to the Obama I voted for? Where did the Obama who spoke at Mile High and gave real HOPE to millions if not billions world-wide, head to? I ask for the Obama who I voted for, not what it is the Republicans constantly yack about (they have a phantasy world to play in, I am in a real world).

  2. For the past decade, young working class high school grads, without job prospects, joined the “all volunteer” military for training & education, a chance to travel, and maybe (a little) patriotic combat.

    What they got was two never-ending , and FAILED, wars of conquest.

    When they were wounded they were dumped into an incompetent, and underfunded VA, where their suffering was ignored.

    At what point will the “volunteers” stop enlisting?

    When are the veterans going to start protesting?

  3. I suspect that war is the natural state of affairs for our country. The way for us to minimize such escapades is to get rid of the ‘all volunteer force” and rely on an inflexible draft of men and women. The ideal draft age should be at least 20yo.

  4. If America is the culmination of Western white civilization, as everyone from the Left to the Right declares, then there must be something terribly wrong with Western white civilization. This is a painful truth; few of us want to go that far. … The truth is that Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant, Marx, Balanchine ballets, et al., don’t redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world. The white race is the cancer of human history; it is the white race and it alone—its ideologies and inventions—which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself.
    —Susan Sontag

  5. Still waiting for the Dept of Peace
    skinny Dennis where are you?

  6. Of course Congress is ok with perpetual war…. as it creates perpetual donations from thems that make the profits from such…. duh…

  7. RebelliousRenee:
    Of course Congress is ok with perpetual war….as it creates perpetual donations from thems that make the profits from such….duh…

    I vehemently disagree. They don’t want war, but the constant threat of war. That generates sales of war materiel without accompanying casualties.

    A tense armistice such as in Korea, or the periodic chest thumping between us and the Russians; both are fine and result in steady flows of arms sales.

    But, the way we are set up now, with no clearly enunciated national strategy, makes it too easy for DC to slide into combat, then, on the count of three, praise our hero-volunteers who have given everything for their country. Joe, how many more medals do we have in that closet??

    Reinstate the draft now. Make these ineffective campaigns with American casualties felt in every American family. That’s the point when Congress will be forced to shit or get off the pot.

  8. We glamorize war and make war a central part of the definition of what is a patriot

  9. Katherine Graham Cracker:
    We glamorizewar and make war a central part of the definition of what is a patriot

    Here is what the United States requires of people becoming citizens of our country:

    A. Bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; or
    B. Perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; or
    C. Perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law.

    It doesn’t mention anything about patriotic parades. Or glamor.

  10. It doesn’t mention anything about patriotic parades. Or glamor.

    yet there are parades movies and books that do glamorize war and the people involved in making decisions to go to war.

    Being a war hero is something very special is the US

  11. red-rag and pink-flag
    blackshirt and brown
    strut-mince and stink-brag
    have all come to town

    some like it shot
    and some like it hung
    and some like it in the twot
    nine months young


  12. Hit

    By Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

    Out of the sparkling sea
    I drew my tingling body clear, and lay
    On a low ledge the livelong summer day,
    Basking, and watching lazily
    White sails in Falmouth Bay.

    My body seemed to burn
    Salt in the sun that drenched it through and through,
    Till every particle glowed clean and new
    And slowly seemed to turn
    To lucent amber in a world of blue …

    I felt a sudden wrench—
    A trickle of warm blood—
    And found that I was sprawling in the mud
    Among the dead men in the trench.

  13. War is something we watch on TV,

    for about 5 minutes,

    before we look for something more interesting.

    Like the “Kardashians,” or “NCIS.”

  14. Meanwhile over at faux noise, britt fights with b.o., and kelly reams cheney.

    It is civil war in the party of hate.

    I’ll sleep well tonight, knowing that the armed might of the teeper hordes will prevent another neocon-munist dictatorship.

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