Obama Seeks to Dramatically Broaden US War on Terror

Ending AUMF Aims to Push a New, Vaguer Version

Whenever you see a president looking for a significant reform, you should always look at the fine print.

The news that President Obama was looking at getting Congress to remove the 9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), as well as the 2002 AUMF that led to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, was initially seen as a possible climbdown from the position of eternal American warfare.

Instead, White House officials are now saying that the old 9/11 AUMF is “outdated” and less useful in their current warmongering, primarily because it is so difficult to spin factions that didn’t exist 13 years ago as something to do with 9/11.

The “repeal” is really a cover for what they are now calling the “evolving” of the global war on terrorism, and the introduction of a new, broader authority for the president to attack whatever flavor-of-the-week enemy he can get the terrorist label to stick to.

The hopes that the US was moving off a permanent war footing were palpable, even as the US begins sending troops back to Iraq, and potentially picking up where the 2003 occupation left off.

Even though the 2002 AUMF for Iraq seemingly allows US invasions whenever going forward, the language focuses on the “threat” of long-dead Saddam Hussein, and actually using that as the pretext for a new war would be outrageous.

That doesn’t mean the war isn’t going to happen, it just means it needs to be sold on a different pretext, whether of aiding the “allied” Maliki government or of fighting ISIS as a broader global war on terror.

Congress’ ability to wade through an attempt to pare back the existing AUMF while putting in wiggle words that will effective broaden it is very much in doubt, and their reluctance to do anything about President Obama’s wars, e.g. Libya, that didn’t remotely comply with existing US law will only make the administration more aggressive in defining whatever they get as giving him virtually unchecked power to start new conflicts.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.