Repeal the Iraq War Authorization

The Case for Repealing, and Not Replacing, the Iraq War Authorization

January 3, 2017: Members of the 115th congress and their familes mingle on the house floor while attending the joint session on the opening day of the session.

It should be a top priority for Congress to correct its historic blunder of passing the buck when it comes to war and peace.

We very recently almost found ourselves in a new war with Iran. As part of its continued response to that crisis, the House of Representatives is planning to vote on repeal of the Iraq war authorization. These two things may seem totally unrelated, but the Trump administration’s reckless Soleimani assassination is actually the perfect example of why Congress can no longer afford to put off repealing — and not replacing — this long-outdated law. Here’s why.

To be clear, the resolution on the chopping block is the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). It was enacted by Congress to approve a disastrous war of choice — invading Saddam Hussein’s Iraq — and has since been used to justify unrelated and unauthorized military activity. Most recently, it was cited by the Trump administration amidst its flurry of contradictory rationales for the Soleimani strike. It’s legally laughable that this authority could cover a drone strike against an Iranian official in 2020, but this episode makes clear a dangerous reality: if the authorization remains on the books, it will continue to be used.

Indeed, the Soleimani assassination was not just a reckless and dangerous escalation, it was the exact outcome that advocates of repeal have long been working to prevent. While this moment rightfully became an opportunity to mobilize against a new war, it must next lead to a long-overdue reckoning. For nearly two decades, Congress has allowed this expansive war authority to remain on the books, ripe for exploitation by a conflict-prone executive. What was once a persistent warning alarm should be now blaring like an emergency siren: repeal of the Iraq war authorization must become a top priority, in order to prevent future similar crises.

Frustratingly, it was barely a month ago that Congress actually had a prime opportunity to do just that. The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), on a bipartisan basis, adopted a provision led by Rep. Barbara Lee to do away with the 2002 Iraq authorization. It shouldn’t have been, and wasn’t, controversial. Repeal is also popular among the public. Hundreds of people from all over the country assembled in Washington, D.C. this fall as part of the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s annual gathering in support of repeal. It’s just one example of many. Letters have been sent, phone calls have been made, and events have been organized. But at the last minute, the provision was stripped from the bill.

The recent brush with a new Iran war shows why it’s so important for Congress to act boldly for repeal. This is not an academic exercise or a simple matter of getting paperwork in order. It’s not just process for the sake of process. There are real consequences and real lives at stake. Congress’ power to authorize force, and accountability to the voters for how they wage that authority, is supposed to serve as an extra step between the whims of the executive and potentially deadly results. It’s a matter of a functioning democracy to ensure that that these checks and balances are in place. Indefinite authorizations like the Iraq war AUMF let Congress off the hook and put war on autopilot.

Enough is enough. It should be a top priority for Congress to correct its historic blunder of passing the buck when it comes to war and peace. After all, those who voted for the Iraq war authorization in the first place have been haunted by their choices years later. Consistently, across the ideological spectrum, the Iraq war is widely reviled and politically toxic. So, too, should those who decline to finally repeal that authority fear both the political and human consequences of their continued failure to act.

It’s time for Congress to follow the lead of advocates by not stopping until this authorization, which has caused so much suffering and will continue to do so until it is gone, takes its rightful place in the dustbin of history.

Elizabeth Beavers is an advisor to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker lobby in the public interest, on issues of militarism and human rights.

US Continues To Manipulate Massive Anti-US Iraqi Demonstrations and Conspirators

Crowds turn out in Iraq for anti-US and anti-Israel protest

Sadr betrays Iraq’s protests and tries to hijack them with his own

Al-Sadr announces halt of resistance against US in Iraq

Iraqi security forces raid protest camps after Sadr supporters withdraw

The mass protests in Iraq and the US drive to recolonize the Middle East

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https://twitter.com/i/status/1220641129651003392

Iraq US troops Feature photo

POPULAR RESISTANCE

Enormous Crowds at Iraq’s Million Man March Tell America to Leave for Good

An estimated 2.5 million Iraqis descended on Baghdad to stage a “Million Man March” calling for an end to the nearly 17 year-long U.S. occupation of their country.

People from all over Iraq have descended upon its capital Baghdad, heeding the call from influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr for a “million man march” calling for an end to the nearly 17 year-long U.S. occupation of the country. Images from the event show seas of peaceful crowds walking together through the city center. Sayed Sadiq al-Hashemi, the director of the Iraqi Center for Studies, estimated that more than 2.5 million took part in the demonstrations. While there are many divisions in Iraqi society, marchers hope to send a united message against American imperialism.

“Pompeo keeps going on about respecting Iraqi sovereignty. Well Iraqis want you out of their country,” said Lebanese-American journalist Rania Khalek, adding that the recent U.S. assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has seriously backfired, leading to a huge show of anti-American sentiment. She also took aim at the media coverage; “Whenever a couple hundred people protest against Iran, it trends on twitter. Yet when hundreds of thousands in Iraq protest against the US? No trending,” she said.

Khalek’s words were prophetic. The march has already concluded, yet coverage in Western media has been sparse, to say the least. A search for “Iraq” into the Google News search engine at 16:00 GMT Friday elicited just two articles in the Western press. Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s Quick Take released a since-corrected video, incorrectly describing the mass protests as merely “anti-government demonstrations.”

The message of the million man march was impossible to miss: the main stage of the event featured a huge banner with the words “GET OUT AMERICA” printed in giant upper case English letters, while protesters carried signs that featured slogans like “Americans elect moron criminals & the rest of the world suffers destruction,” “Trump is destroying America and the world,” and, perhaps most ominously, “You arrived vertically but will leave horizontally.”

 

The most comprehensive English language coverage by far was, ironically, from Iranian-government owned channel Press TV, who had live video feeds of the events with round-the-clock coverage and commentary in English. Ironic because last week Google deleted Press TV from its platforms, including YouTube, making it far harder for Western audiences to access it. The media attack on the public’s ability to hear alternative opinions continued as Facebook announced that, because of U.S. sanctions, it was legally compelled to remove all content that contradicted the Trump administration’s position on Soleimani’s assassination or shared an Iranian government perspective. “We operate under U.S. sanctions laws, including those related to the U.S. government’s designation of the IRGC and its leadership,” a Facebook spokesperson said. This is particularly problematic as Soleimani was, according to American surveys, “the most popular Iranian public figure” with over 80 percent of the country having a positive or very positive opinion of him. This effectively means that the Trump administration has control over the opinions that the world – and Iranians themselves – see on social media.

Although Soleimani’s assassination on January 3 sparked outrage in Iran, it was also deeply unpopular with Iraqis, who saw it as the latest example of the contempt the U.S. has for their country’s sovereignty. Little known outside the region is that the Soleimani had traveled to Baghdad for peace talks with Saudi Arabia at the behest of Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. Abdul-Mahdi specifically asked Trump for permission to invite him to his country. Trump acquiesced, then used the opportunity to kill him.

In response, the Iraqi parliament passed a unanimous resolution on January 5 (with many abstentions), calling for the expulsion of all U.S. troops. There are currently an estimated 5,000 American soldiers in Iraq, plus large numbers of mercenary contractors.

The Trump administration, however, has flatly refused to leave. In fact, it is greatly increasing the number of military personnel in the country as it prepares for a possible attack on Iran. “At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how to best recommit to our strategic partnership — not to discuss troop withdrawal, but our right, appropriate force posture in the Middle East,” said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus. Donald Trump was even more imperious, threatening the entire country with “very big sanctions” as a punishment for telling America to leave.

Iraqis know the consequences of sanctions. American engineered sanctions killed over one million Iraqis during the 1990s, including half a million children, as the country literally starved to death under the economic blockade. The sanctions were labeled “genocidal” by successive U.N. diplomats who were charged with overseeing them. At the time, Secretary of State Madeline Albright brushed off the deaths, stating that they were a price worth paying. As a result of the millions of deaths caused by the sanctions and the 2003 invasion and occupation, the country has an unusually young population: the median age of an Iraqi is just 20 (in the U.S. it is 38). Therefore, most Iraqis have never seen their country free of American troops.

Feature photo | Demonstrators carry placards depicting U.S. President Donald Trump at a protest against the presence of US troops in Iraq on Jan. 24, 2020. Ala’a Al-Marjani | Reuters

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.