Congress set to dial back Presidential war powers

Should have been done a long time ago:

The Democratic-led House, with the backing of President Joe Biden, is expected to approve legislation to repeal the 2002 authorization for use of military force in Iraq, a step supporters say is necessary to constrain presidential war powers even though it is unlikely to affect U.S. military operations around the world.

A vote on Thursday would come one day after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he intends to bring repeal legislation to the Senate floor this year. “The Iraq War has been over for nearly a decade,” Schumer said. “The authorization passed in 2002 is no longer necessary in 2021.”

Actually, the Iraq War was over shortly after it started, at least it should have been. What happened after that was occupation and insurgency, coupled with sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni elements, all of which was predictable. The 2002 Authorization should never have passed in the first place, but the anger over 9/11 was still fresh, and we didn't have our pound of flesh yet in Afghanistan. All that being said, if you want to sell something to a split Senate, sometimes you need to hold your tongue:

Schumer said he wanted to be clear that legislation terminating the use of force in Iraq does not mean the U.S. is abandoning the country and the shared fight against the Islamic State group. He said the measure would eliminate the possibility of a future administration “reaching backing into the legal dustbin to use it as a justification for military adventurism.”

He cited the Washington-directed drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani in January 2020 as an example.

The Trump administration said Soleimani was plotting a series of attacks that endangered many American troops and officials across the Middle East. The national security adviser at the time, Robert O’Brien, told reporters that President Donald Trump exercised America’s right to self-defense and that the strike was a fully authorized action under the 2002 authorization to use military force.

All that may be true, but the GOP reaction is also predictable:

In the end, legislation terminating the 2002 authorization will need 60 votes in an evenly divided Senate to overcome any procedural hurdles. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he opposes the effort to terminate the authorization.

“We used it to get Soleimani and there might be another Soleimani out there," Inhofe said.

“Democrats are playing politics with national security in an effort to taint one of President Trump’s biggest national security successes," said McCaul, the lead Republican on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Calling that a "success" is debatable. Soleimani was actually invited by the Iraqi government, so his assassination was not only a devious step questionable under international (and U.S.) law, it was also a slap in the face to the Iraqi government. And it was strategically unsound, since Iranian-backed militias in Iraq had literally removed Daesh (ISIS) from the entire countryside, something U.S. forces had failed to accomplish.

But Trump Republicans are proud of it, and now getting that filibuster-proof 60 votes is going to be harder than it should be.



Pic is Mosul in 2017

After ISIS was finally beaten and dislodged from the 2nd largest Iraqi city. Fifteen years after our initial invasion. It is literally impossible to calculate the total cost of waging war, which is why we should refrain from doing it in the future.