It is nearly sixteen and still kicking. That would be the Authorization for the Use of Military Force that Congress passed in response to the 9/11 attacks. And which has since been employed in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, among other locales. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul thinks this open-ended, sort of blank-check, approval of an increasingly unrecognizable conflict is a bad idea and today he got a vote on ending it.
Nearly 16 years to the day after Congress first authorized a military response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Senate on Wednesday rejected an effort to repeal the virtual blank check that Congress granted to the president while smoke still rose from the rubble of the World Trade Center.
The debate pitted the Republican Party’s ascendant isolationist wing, represented by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, against its old-line interventionists, led by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who is pressing his vision of a muscular military even as he battles brain cancer (holy crap, did they really write that??).
— David Wright (@DavidWright_CNN) September 13, 2017
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) September 12, 2017
These are the senators who voted with Paul
While I don’t agree with much of what Rand Paul pushes, I will give him his due on this. The current AUMF has obviously been overcome by events and is now being used as a legal fiction to cover military operations never anticipated when it was signed. In fact, in Syria it has been turned on its head where some groups of “Syrian rebels” are known affiliates of al-Qaeda but yet they are part of the “coalition” that is fighting the Syrian regime and ISIS, the latter group did not even exist in 2001.
The reason for keeping it is best summed up by Rhode Island’s Jack Reed:
Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said that in forcing senators to take a stand, Mr. Paul had “been relentless in doing something that has to be done.”
But, he added, “You can’t replace something with nothing, and we have nothing.”
Indeed. There seems to be a lot of that going around lately.