Obama Refuses to Repeal AUMF, Keeps US On ‘Perpetual War Footing’


In recent months, President Obama has been pressured in the face of widespread public outrage to make two important speeches on national security. In May, he gave a lengthy talk on U.S. drone policy in which he placated public concerns by saying that America needed to get off “a perpetual wartime footing.” In January, unprecedented public focus on NSA surveillance led Obama to make another speech proposing several reforms and Obama again insisted we must “get off the open-ended war footing that we’ve maintained since 9/11.”

A simple way to get us off a permanent war footing would be to repeal the legislation that grants the president the power to wage war indefinitely against undefined enemies wherever they may exist in the world. The 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force authorizes the president “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.” Efforts in Congress to repeal or at least amend the AUMF have gone nowhere, and “the White House has taken no public steps to roll back the AUMF,” according to Gregory Johnson at Buzzfeed.

Johnson, in a lengthy report, references two recent U.S. raids to capture suspected terrorists “in countries with which the nation was not at war.”

More than a dozen years after the Sept. 11 attacks, this is what America’s war looks like, silent strikes and shadowy raids. The Congressional Research Service, an analytical branch of the Library of Congress, recently said that it had located at least 30 similar occurrences, although the number of covert actions is likely many times higher with drones strikes and other secret operations. The remarkable has become regular.

The White House said that the operations in both Libya and Somalia drew their authority from the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, a 12-year-old piece of legislation that was drafted in the hours after the Sept. 11 attacks. At the heart of the AUMF is a single 60-word sentence, which has formed the legal foundation for nearly every counterterrorism operation the U.S. has conducted since Sept. 11, from Guantanamo Bay and drone strikes to secret renditions and SEAL raids. Everything rests on those 60 words.

Unbound by time and unlimited by geography, the sentence has been stretched and expanded over the past decade, sprouting new meanings and interpretations as two successive administrations have each attempted to keep pace with an evolving threat while simultaneously maintaining the security of the homeland. In the process, what was initially thought to authorize force against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan has now been used to justify operations in several countries across multiple continents and, at least theoretically, could allow the president — any president — to strike anywhere at anytime. What was written in a few days of fear has now come to govern years of action.

In May, Pentagon officials testified to Congress that keeping the AUMF in place is important to facilitate the ongoing “war on terrorism,” which will last “at least ten to twenty [more] years.” That is a far cry from Obama’s pledge to get us off a perpetual war footing. Like on so many other issues, Obama’s words are divorced from his actual policy.

16 thoughts on “Obama Refuses to Repeal AUMF, Keeps US On ‘Perpetual War Footing’”

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  1. War since 9/11! USG has been at war with the world since World War II which is 70 years ago. Since than the USG have made it worse for itself by continuously attacking other nations, so what is left but to keep the "perpetual war footing" and continue until lend of the world, unless, American people start realizing that they cannot conquer the world, that they are not super as they are told that they are, that they need to understand that their government is not doing good for other nation when they killing them or dividing them and that the history of people uprising for a functioning democracy in every nation that USA is at war with is much older then US, when the white man made the Native American drunk to buy their land and then started killing them to free the slaves, a double moral of a power hungry and drunken individuals which still exist as we speak.

  2. The US economy cannot survive without permanent war to support it. The US economic model is based on war production, and has been since FDR arranged the Pearl Harbor attack as a way of luring the American people into fighting WW 2. When WW 2 came to an end, the Cold War was created to replace it, and when the Cold War unexpectedly ended, a second Pearl Harbor (9/11) was arranged for the purpose of creating an atmosphere of fear during which the US led War On Terror can continue on into perpetuity.

    1. The US can survive and would thrive without perpetual war. Neocon propaganda has spread the myth that perpetual warfare is good for the US economy. War is only good for the economy when the spoils of war are greater than the expenditures (ie. the gain of productive lands, slave labor, plunder, ect. vs the death and maiming of productive males, diversion of raw materials and productive capacity, psychological trauma, ect.). Protracted wars have destroyed almost every supper power and we are no exceptions. The federal reserve has maintained near zero interest rates to fund the longest wars in US history, creating a finically unstable and unsustainable system. Social security is insolvent, our monetary base has increased 4 times what it was before the war of terror, and politicians have promised more benefits than can possibly be delivered to placate the public. We're going to have to pay and because we didn't do it up front the economy is going to be far worse than what it would have been than if we didn't adopt a perpetual warfare policy.

    2. It's not about the US economy. It's about bleeding the populations of the US and as much of the world as possible to line the pockets of a few people. It's bad for the economy, good for the people who are carrying out the wars. They don't care what happens to anyone else. Their goal is to lead lives of luxury, not to help people.

  3. Except, the USA was not retaliating against an attack after 9/11. The USA was simply using the victims' retaliation as an excuse to increase its massive aggression and repression.

    Before 9/11, the USA was complicit in killing millions of Afghanis, millions of Iraqis, millions of Iranians, untold thousands of Palestinians, thousands of Lebanese, and assisting in the repression of millions of people in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar, and elsewhere.

    The 9/11 attacks were more akin to a slave uprising than an unprovoked attack. In slave uprisings in the USA, if the slaves killed 20 white people, the white people would use that as an excuse to increase their aggression against and repression of the blacks; they would kill hundreds of blacks, and put their heads on pikes to keep them terrified and in their place.

    The USA's response to 9/11 has been to terrorize the Middle East, proverbially put "heads on spikes" to keep the people repressed, and increase US control over Middle East resources, which is the only reason the USA has slobbered itself all over the Middle East in the first place. Same reason why the USA would suddenly, for "national security", seize land promised to Native Americans when resources were discovered on it.

    1. Would you mind telling me when and where events of this nature occurred? I've read a lot a American history and don't recall ever reading of events like this taking place.

    2. You go too far, Empire Slayer. The extreme hyperbole you use destroys your whole argument. Where did you read about whites putting blacks "heads on pikes?"

  4. Let’s face facts! He’s done nothing but cost the taxpayers money in the form of a massive deficiet!

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  6. Still, people applying for employment in federal agencies are often subjected to the polygraph. And in the governments latest effort to rout out potential “insider threats,” or employees they think may choose to blow the whistle, the polygraph is viewed as an important screening process.

  7. Still, people applying for employment in federal agencies are often subjected to the polygraph. And in the governments latest effort to rout out potential a??insider threats,a?? or employees they think may choose to blow the whistle, the polygraph is viewed as an important screening process.

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