Biden’s Airstrike Still Reliant on Iraq AUMF

From The American Conservative:

Thirty-five days after he was sworn into office as President of the United States, Joe Biden ordered airstrikes on Iranian-backed militias in Syria, in response to rocket attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq. Congress has not declared war against Syria or Iran.

However, Congress never revoked the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) which authorized the war in Iraq, despite numerous attempts in multiple legislative sessions to do so.

“There’s no general authority for a president to launch airstrikes, and President Biden hasn’t claimed they were necessary to stop an imminent attack,” commented Michigan’s former Rep. Justin Amash. “Our Constitution demands he get approval from the representatives of the people.”

Some within the Biden administration used to know the constitutional limits of presidential power. Comments from Press Secretary Jen Psaki from April 2017 criticizing former President Trump for launching airstrikes against Syria haven’t aged very well.

Psaki asked what “legal authority for strikes” Trump had in Syria. “Assad is a brutal dictator,” she tweeted, “But Syria is a sovereign country.”

Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (Minn.) resurfaced Psaki’s tweet and asked, “Great question,” while Republican Congressman (Mich.) Peter Meijer added that the question “dovetails nicely with a renewed push for AUMF reform!”

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby spun the strike in eastern Syria as “proportionate” and “defensive,” saying they “were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel.”

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USA Today Makes Major Contribution to Foreign Policy Debate

The USA Today, drawing on the work of the Cost of War Project, Quincy Institute, David Vine, William Hartung, and others, has gone beyond the limits of every other big corporate U.S. media outlet, and beyond what any member of the US Congress has done, in a big new series of articles on wars, bases, and militarism.

There are significant shortcomings, some of them (such as absurdly low estimates of deaths and financial costs) originating with the Cost of War Project. But the overall achievement is — I hope — groundbreaking.

The first headline is: “‘A reckoning is near’: America has a vast overseas military empire. Does it still need it?”

The premise is deeply flawed:

“For decades, the US has enjoyed global military dominance, an achievement that has underpinned its influence, national security and efforts at promoting democracy.”

Promoting what? Where has it ever promoted democracy? The US military arms, trains, and/or funds 96% of the most oppressive governments on earth by its own reckoning.

National security? The bases generate wars and antagonism, not security.

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Why Joe Biden Will Continue the US War on Nord Stream 2 Till the Bitter End

Any doubts as to whether Joe Biden will continue Donald Trump’s opposition to Nord Stream 2 should now be laid to rest. With 18 companies quitting the gas pipeline project this week following threats of US sanctions, there has never been so much pressure on Angela Merkel to ditch the scheme, which would see Russian gas transported to Germany directly.

Merkel has done well to stand her ground to date. For even her European partners aren’t backing her. The Director General of the European Commission’s energy department, Ditte Juul Jorgensen said on Tuesday that "For the European Union as a whole, Nord Stream does not contribute to security of supply’, emphasizing that it was a decision for the German state, not the EU as to whether the project should be completed. Given the fact that European demand for Russian gas has increased, not decreased of late, however, one might think that it is in the EU’s interest to support Nord Stream 2.

Not if the US has anything to do with it. Citing concern at Russia’s increased influence over Europe if the pipeline goes ahead, Joe Biden has proclaimed Nord Stream 2 a "bad deal" for Europe, which America will continue to oppose. The US claims that Russia would have more leverage over the EU politically as a result. What it really means, though, is that the US would have less leverage over Europe, and a reduced demand for its fracked gas. EU countries imported as much as 36% of American natural gas in 2019 – an increase of around 5 billion cubic meters from the previous year – a considerable amount given Russia is just on its doorstep, and also bearing in mind the EU’s environmental pledges (fracking produces heavy amounts of methane gas, responsible for global warming).

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Imagining Palestine: On Barghouti, Darwish, Kanafani, and the Language of Exile

For Palestinians, exile is not simply the physical act of being removed from their homes and their inability to return. It is not a casual topic pertaining to politics and international law, either. Nor is it an ethereal notion, a sentiment, a poetic verse. It is all of this, combined.

The death in Amman of Palestinian poet, Mourid Barghouti, an intellectual whose work has intrinsically been linked to exile, brought back to the surface many existential questions: are Palestinians destined to be exiled? Can there be a remedy for this perpetual torment? Is justice a tangible, achievable goal?

Barghouti was born in 1944 in Deir Ghassana, near Ramallah. His journey in exile began in 1967, and ended, however temporarily, 30 years later. His memoir "I Saw Ramallah" – published in 1997 – was an exiled man’s attempt to make sense of his identity, one that has been formulated within many different physical spaces, conflicts and airports. While, in some way, the Palestinian in Barghouti remained intact, his was a unique identity that can only be fathomed by those who have experienced, to some degree, the pressing feelings of Ghurba – estrangement and alienation – or Shataat – dislocation and diaspora.

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Will Biden Fall for a Few Further Feckless Sanctions?

The Washington Post and other media, owned and operated by the MICIMATT (Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex), yesterday beat the drums for more sanctions on Russia. (See, for example, this and this.)

Cuticles Beware!

The owners and operators of major- and minor-league media are biting their nails down to the cuticle. Could Biden’s immediate extension of the New START Treaty, plus his agreement with Putin on the telephone "to explore strategic stability discussions on a range of arms control and emerging security issues" threaten a thaw in U.S.-Russian relations?

Perish the thought! No thaw; no détente; no rapprochement. Oh, the Things That Go Bump in the Night! – things that could complicate the MICIMATT campaign to exaggerate the national security "threat", in order to justify obscenely high levels of funding for "defense" against an "aggressive" Russia?

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GOP Rep. Biggs: Failure To Withdraw From Afghanistan a ‘Slippery Slope’

From The American Conservative:

Arizona Republican Congressman Andy Biggs warned President Biden that any delay in keeping the timetable to withdraw in Afghanistan could lead to what he called a “slippery slope.”

“I respectfully urge you to continue to remove United States service members from Afghanistan in the coming weeks, with the goal of ensuring all our brave men and women in uniform return from the theater before May,” Biggs wrote in a letter to Biden.

The U.S. agreed to withdraw all US service men and women from Afghanistan in a deal with the Taliban by May 1 in return for peace talks and a cessation of violence. This would bring an end to America’s longest war, which began in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently refused to say whether the US would keep the May withdrawal deadline.

The Taliban is very likely prepared to resume its campaign of violence against the US and coalition targets if it perceives that coalition forces have stalled or reversed course on the agreed-upon withdraw, according to the Afghanistan Study Group co-chairs who testified to the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security. They testified that US troop levels may have to double their troop presence or more if the US stays beyond May 1.

The calls to delay the withdrawal in order “to give the peace process sufficient time to produce an acceptable result… is an all-too-familiar slippery slope,” wrote Biggs.

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