The Bloomberg editorial “The White House shouldn’t get a blank check to wage war” rightfully points an accusatory finger at laws in existence that, when misused, have led to some of the US’s horrific “forever wars.” Toward the top of that list sits the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force.
Simply stated, the 2002 AUMF’s mission was declared accomplished in 2011. It has no legitimate governance over ongoing military operations. So until removed, it will only tempt every seated president to misinterpret it to justify new war.
Unsurprisingly, bipartisan support for 2002 AUMF repeal is plentiful — and growing. On his first full day in office, President Biden received a letter from five Democratic House committee leaders, arguing that his stated goal of ending the endless wars necessitated it.
Rep. Barbara Lee has introduced a repeal bill (HR 256) with an expanding list of signatories from both parties.
Endorsements for the idea have come from every political corner — from the conservative Heritage Foundation, which said: "Repealing the 2002 Iraq AUMF is good policy as [the authorization] is no longer necessary; its primary purpose has been accomplished. Congress needs to get back in the business of exercising its constitutional duty of deciding on whether to authorize wars."
It also has been endorsed by Veterans Concerned For America and Vote Vets, among others.
What’s missing is a leading voice to introduce a corresponding bill in the Senate. The uncontestable first choice would be Sen. Tim Kaine, a prominent champion of pruning overgrown executive war powers, and who attempted such a repeal in 2019 with his Senate Joint Resolution 13. The measure was left to die in committee.
While the window of opportunity to achieve this repeal offered by President Biden’s first 100 days in office is wide open, the eyes of the nation turn to our Virginia senator. Will Tim Kaine’s legacy be that he seized this opportunity to let more peace in through that window, or that he let it escape him and consequently let more war seep through?
I predict the principled senator will summon the political courage for which he’s known, put his shoulder to the wheel one more time, and reintroduce legislation to finally repeal the war-inspiring 2002 AUMF. I’ll be the first to heartily congratulate him when he does.
Carol DiCaprio Herrick