Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War. As we reflect on this anniversary, we also have an opportunity to look back to 2003 and reflect on what proponents of the war were saying, how FCNL responded, and how these predictions have borne out two decades on.
In January 2003, FCNL’s Washington Newsletter noted that “the Bush Administration’s reliance on military might appears to be contributing to an era of escalating danger and perpetual war.”
FCNL drew attention to the risks of expanding U.S. war to Iraq. In January 2003, FCNL’s Washington Newsletter noted that “the Bush Administration’s reliance on military might appears to be contributing to an era of escalating danger and perpetual war.”
The prediction of perpetual war was prescient. Over the last 20 years, U.S. military operations have expanded across the world to over a dozen countries, including Somalia, Libya, Yemen, the Philippines, Syria. While these operations may get less press, they are another link in the chain of never-ending military operations.
FCNL also proved to be clear-eyed on the costs of the Iraq war. While Bush administration officials claimed a cost of $100-$200 billion for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the price tag would turn out to be in the $800 billion range by the time the war was declared over.
This money, which could have been used to provide healthcare, protect the environment, end food insecurity, or support international humanitarian causes, instead largely went to military contractors.
In all aspects of the war, FCNL and those who called for peace were proven right. The Iraq War killed approximately 126,000 Iraqi civilians and more than 4,500 US service members, cost huge sums of money and material, and seriously damaged American credibility abroad and at home.
But now, Congress has an opportunity to take a significant step forward to help address this damage.
The invasion of Iraq was not possible without congressional approval. The Bush administration sought and received an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against Iraq in 2002. In response to the passage of the 2002 Iraq AUMF, FCNL noted in its Washington Newsletter one of the central problems of the new authorization: the lack of an end date.
“How long will this authorization remain in effect? There is no date of expiration for the authorization of force, and the resolution does not address the possibility of long-term U.S. occupation of Iraq.”
Today, the 2002 Iraq AUMF remains in place. It has been abused to justify military operations well outside of its original purpose and may very well be abused again.
Fortunately, members of Congress in both the House and the Senate have introduced bipartisan legislation to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF. In the Senate, the bipartisan bill from Sens. Tim Kaine (VA) and Todd Young (IN) will receive a floor vote this week. The House version of the bill, cosponsored by Reps. Barbara Lee (CA-12), Chip Roy (TX-21), Abigail Spanberger (VA-13) and Tom Cole (OK-4), has also received significant bipartisan support.
Congress must act to rein in the executive branch by passing the bipartisan repeal bills currently in both the House and the Senate. The Iraq War was a mistake, and its about time we brought it to an end.