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The Endless War

by Jacob Reimann Monday, May. 14, 2018 at 3:08 AM

According to the ACLU, the Corker-Kaine bill is "broader and more dangerous than the current law." Article 1 of the US Constitution grants Congress the exclusive right to declare war. The new edition of the AUMF undermines this to the maximum.


The Congress will give Trump excessive powers

By Jakob Reimann

[This article published on May 7, 2018, is translated from the German on the Internet, Jakob Reimann blogs on JusticeNow.]

The "Authorization for Use of Military Force Act" (AUMF) passed in the shock-induced paralysis of the attacks of September 11, 2001 supply the US president with far-reaching powers to wage wars. A broad alliance of congressional Democrats and Republicans wants to further develop this and give the president the power to declare any group or persons in any country of this world an enemy and wage war against them.

The Legalization of State Terror – When is Killing Legal? When is War Legal?

Since time immemorial, politicians and scholars of this world have grappled with the right of war – Jus ad bellum. Legal legitimation is constructed in our times of endless war. Only three days after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the US Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force Act (AUMF) as retribution against the leaders of the 9/11 attacks. Exactly 60 words plunged the world into the dark era of the "War on Terror." This mini-law may be the most disastrous document of the 21st century. Under this supposed "authorization," the US Empire has waged endless war for almost 17 years – against an invincible tactic, not against an enemy capable of being overcome. A million-fold mountain of corpses is the result.

A demagogic front of Democrats and Republicans in Congress now want to develop this unrestrained power to wage wars and grant the president the power to declare war on any group and any country of this world.

A Blank Check for the "War on Terror"

Infected by the post-9/11 torch and pitchfork blood vengeance of a George W. Bush and the right-wing extremist neocon war hawks with whom he surrounded himself, the Senate unanimously approved the war authorization law AUMF on September 14, 2001 by a vote of 98:0. In the Lower House, the House of Representatives, the law was accepted by a vote of 420:1. Only a single courageous representative voted against the law, Barbara Lee, democrat from California. Lee justified her courageous vote as follows: "This was a blank check for the president to attack anyone who was involved in the events of September 11 – anywhere and in any country – and without any time restriction. By issuing these expanded powers, the Congress violated its duty of responsibility for understanding the dimensions of this declaration. I cannot support issuing such powers to the president to wage wars."

In the years following the AUMF, Barbara Lee was slandered for her courage of conscience as a "communist," "traitor" and "enemy of the state." and received death threats against herself and her family. According to a research report of the Congressional Research Service of May 2016, the AUMF was cited 37 times since 2001 to justify military force in 14 countries.

Interestingly, George W. Bush used the AUMF 18 times and Nobel Prize winner for peace Obama 19 times. The Afghanistan War lasting nearly 17 years and operation of the Guantanamo concentration camp in Cuba are on the long AUMF list. Countries on the "War on Terror" periphery like Yemen and Somalia as well as undisclosed operations in the Philippines, Kenya, Ethiopia, Georgia, and Eritrea should be on the list. In 2013 and 2015, Obama's air strikes against Al Qaida or ISIS in Libya – against the Dshishadists - were legitimated with the AUMF. Without this, the illegal NATO war in Syria (2011) would not have happened.

The AUMF served to legalize wars against groups like Al-Shabab in Somalia, the Khorasan network in Central Asia and most prominently the war against ISIS from 2014. Making a connection to the attacks of September 11 and using the AUMF as legal legitimation is a breach of the US constitution. These three groups did not exist in 2001.

The Endless War Removes its Last Fetters

In the middle of April, three senators of the Republicans (under Bob Corker's leadership) and the Democrats (under the leadership of Tim Keane, Hillary Clinton's vice-president candidate) submitted a bill to replace the AUMF of 2001, the Corker-Kaine bill.

According to its authors, the bill limits the power of the president and strengthens the power of Congress. "For too long, Congress gave the president a blank check for waging wars," declared Tim Keane, co-author of the bill. "Our bill now annuls this authorization and lets Congress do its work n weighing where, when and with whom we can engage in war."

The problem with these flowery words is only that they describe the exact opposite of what was actually written in the 20-page bill.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Corker-Kaine bill is "broader and more dangerous than the current law." The renowned civil rights NGO speaks of a "monumental shift that will fuel war everywhere."

Article 1 of the US Constitution grants the Congress the exclusive right to declare war. The new edition of the AUMF will undermine this to the maximum and delegate the right to declare war de facto to the office of the president who can declare any group or person in any country of this world a hostile combatant and enter in a war against them without consulting Congress.

In a warning to the Senate, the lawyers of the ACLU summarized:

"The Corker-Kaine bill will inflict colossal damage on the checks and balances established in the Constitution. It will put civil- and human rights in danger at home and abroad. It will lead to a breathtakingly broad expansion of war without sensible controls and would be a clear breach of international law including the Charter of the United Nations."

The declared goal of the Corker-Kaine bill is "to establish rigorous controls (on war deployments) by Congress." In principle, the bill provides a veto-power of Congress but a two-thirds majority in both houses is needed for that. Given the warmongering Washington zeitgeist in the last decades and the votes on corresponding laws in the past, it is extremely naïve to believe two-thirds of the hundreds of representatives would vote against any war action.

The exclusive right of the Congress to declare war should be transferred to the office of the president – a war against whoever, whenever, in whatever country with no temporal end. That is the core of the Corker-Kaine bill.

To the next war and the war after that

As lawyers "legalized" lawbreakers of Bush-era torture and the concentration camp in Guantanamo, so Obama's lawyers managed to "legalize' the illegal war against Gaddafi's Libya and the no less illegal war against ISIS according to US law.

Corker and Kaine now want to end this legal skirmish of the formal "legalization" of US crimes by giving the president power to define any "organization, person or power" as an enemy of the US as he sees fit and to wage war against them. Paragraph 5 a (3) of the Corker-Kaine bill explicitly grants this right to the president in every country of this world.

If the president wanted, he could claim the people in northern Scandinavia are allies of Al-Qaeda and could wipe them out. What would a more realistic scenario look like?

The Trump administration is filled with Iranophobian war-mongerers. The recent nomination of John Bolton to be the most powerful person as the National Security advisor is only the unbearable tip of the Iran-hating mob in the White House. Trump could define all the Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria supported by Iran – who together with the Kurds were the only forces actually combating IS – as enemies and bomb them. Trump could also declare other partners of Iran like Hisbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen or militias in Syria loyal to Assad after the latest unexplained chemical weapon attack – as enemies, fight them and start a war against Teheran in concert with Iranophobic war-mongerers in Saudi Arabia and Israel. That is the foreign policy goal of the Trump administration.

Donald Trump is the embodiment of incalculability. He is thin-skinned and impulsive to the greatest extent – the perfect recipe for incalculable actions. No one can predict his next step or even speculate halfway seriously. What we know for certain is that the most powerful man in the world is dumb. He is politically uneducated and ignorant because he doesn't read. Insiders who collaborated with him confirm this. He doesn't read at all and is resistant to education. Dumb, narcissist persons have flatterers around them – public dangers or dangers to the public like John Bolton.

A broad alliance of democrats and republicans in Congress will now give legal tools to this intellectually weak and unstable man to go to war against the whole world.

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