As the Forever AUMF 2018 (SJRes 59) (Authority for the Use of Military Force) continues to await action by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, one can only imagine the extent of the behind-the-scene efforts underway to sway those few wavering senators who may be reluctant to go down in American history as voting to eliminate Congress’ sole, inviolate Constitutional authority ‘to declare war.’ Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11.
The law would remove Congress from its statutory authority as it transfers “uninterrupted” authority on “the use of all necessary and appropriate force” to one individual, allowing the president of the United States to pursue the Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS and other ‘associated forces” including a proverbial too little-too late report to Congress 48 hours after the use of military force in a “new foreign country,” presumably in the Middle East (other than Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen or Libya).
In addition to pressure within the committee itself, it can be expected that those who will benefit most from a Forever State of War are currently pounding the Senate’s marble halls, perhaps even stalking members of the committee as lobbyists from the MIC, AIPAC and other enthusiasts for war, will do whatever it takes to bring adoption of the AUMF to a favorable committee vote.
Since more than half the committee, fourteen of its twenty one members received a grand total of $3,397,755 from pro-Israel PAC’s as identified by the Center for Responsive Politics, whenever and if ever the final vote comes, it will be positively titillating to compare the vote and the money.
In an interesting reversal of common legislative procedure, the House of Representatives has, as yet, no pending AUMF comparable to the Foreign Relations Committee version while the Senate Committee appears eager to act; perhaps at the behest of one of those aforementioned aficionados of war. If we assume that the Senate Committee adopts the AUMF with the next logical step being a vote by the full Senate, will the Senate create an awkward legislative conundrum without a comparable Forever AUMF 2018 being on a legislative track in the House?
One factor in pushing for speedy AUMF approval might be that there is some new military escapade about to unfold with the need for an unwieldy constitutionally mandated Congressional debate and vote too onerous, requiring too much effort and consuming a colossal amount of time whereas the Section 8 clause might better inform the American public whether their tax dollars are being efficiently used to improve their lives or might even threaten a halt to the steady drumbeat of war.
Perhaps the delay may be attributed to ongoing negotiations of the finer points in an attempt to create a more perfect airtight vehicle. Whether there is a sunshine date or some i’s are not dotted or t’s not crossed makes little real difference in the final outcome since the ultimate goal is to allow war to go forward without meaningful congressional participation while failing to provide the pesky public with information about why their sons and daughters are losing their limbs or lives in some far-away country that is no threat to our national security.
It is difficult to recognize a more ill-considered, reactionary vote of enormous global consequences as adoption of a Forever AUMF which will surely hasten the Final Chapter of the American Empire.
As if the constitutional violations are not sufficient reason for opposition and while Congress has been less than attentive to its Section 8 duties, a functioning AUMF will not only deny a full and thorough public congressional debate and roll call vote on the merits of military action but will prevent creation of a historic congressional record, a journal of which began in 1789 as necessary to providing a formal documentation of all official parliamentary proceedings essential to any operative democracy.
In mid April when the AUMF 2018 draft was introduced, retiring committee chair Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) was optimistic that the AUMF would be approved within a few weeks, indicating that a potential Senate floor vote depends on the strength of AUMF support within the committee. Corker suggested that a wide margin in favor would facilitate Senate floor passage, which makes it curious that approval appears to have stalled and brings us back to question why the haste for rapid adoption of a new AUMF?
During the May 24 committee hearing with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va) who was HRC’s running mate in 2016, serves on the Senate Armed Service Committee and is a driving force in favor of the AUMF, referred to adoption as little more than a ‘necessary update’ repealing AUMF 2001 and AUMF 2003.
Kaine, who apparently sees no contradiction with an active-service son in the Marines and adoption of the Forever AUMF, stated that there is ‘near unity” on the committee regarding a bi-partisan effort, military engagement against ISIS and the desire to do a ‘good job,’ none of which should be confused with real-time support for adoption of the AUMF.
While Kaine and other members of the committee may be untroubled by the discomfort of a contradictory, cognitive dissonance belief system as necessary qualities in order to function as a senator, the US has become the most violent country on the planet as its legislative representatives exhibit the lack of any functioning global consciousness.
Renee Parsons served on the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and as president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist for Friends of the Earth and a staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31.