In the wake of escalating conflict in Israel and Palestine, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (TX-10) has begun drafting a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran-backed groups.
What Chair McCaul is proposing is, in effect, a green light for expanding war throughout the region.
This new war authorization would allow the administration to utilize force against groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. McCaul has framed this proposal as a necessary response to a potential proxy conflict with Iran resulting from the current situation in Gaza.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on that—what Chair McCaul is proposing is to preemptively authorize the U.S. military to engage in combat with groups located in countries throughout the Middle East. It is, in effect, a green light for expanding war throughout the region.
The Consequences of this New AUMF Would Be Severe
A new AUMF would pose a serious danger to American soldiers and civilians in the Middle East. Authorizing force against new groups would further destabilize the region, potentially leading to another prolonged war and resulting in the loss of more civilian lives. This would be an incredibly devastating outcome given the number of civilian casualties that have already resulted from previous U.S. involvement in the Middle East in the name of the “War on Terror.”
The new AUMF also comes at a time when members of Congress are working to end the “forever wars” that the U.S. has been engaged in since 9/11. These wars have taken the lives of over 7,000 American service members and more than 432,000 civilians.
Rather than authorizing new, harmful, and unwinnable wars, Congress must continue to focus on repealing past AUMFs and bringing our forever wars to a close.
Instead of Authorizing More War, Congress Should Repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF
Members of Congress have indicated their frustration with McCaul’s decision to draft a new, Iran-focused AUMF. Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17) tweeted: tweeted: “How about we first repeal the AUMF that green-lighted the colossal blunder in Iraq before neocons ask Congress to vote for a new blunder and war that will cost us more blood and treasure?”
It is time that we officially repeal the 2002 AUMF once and for all and refrain from the passage of additional, unnecessary, and overbroad war authorizations.
Khanna’s tweet references the 2002 Iraq AUMF, which was passed based on the mistaken belief that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction that threatened the United States. This 2002 AUMF facilitated the devastating and unsuccessful war in Iraq, the effects of which are still being felt by the people of Iraq today.
We urge members of the House not to pass yet another AUMF with devastating consequences but to focus on bringing the repeal of the 2002 Iraq AUMF to the House floor for a vote. The Senate passed this repeal in March, voting 66-30 in favor of S. 316, a bipartisan bill led by Sens. Tim Kaine (VA) and Todd Young (IN). This bill has the approval of President Joe Biden, who stated he would sign the repeal into law once it arrives on his desk.
In a volatile era of conflict around the world, it is critical that Congress take back its war powers and be cautious of any proposals for new war authorizations. Our elected officials must carefully consider and debate the decision to send our military into combat. It is time that we officially repeal the 2002 AUMF once and for all and refrain from the passage of additional, unnecessary, and overbroad war authorizations.