AUMF, Never-Ending War, and America’s ‘Instruments of Tyranny’

John Glaser, May 16, 2013

james-madison-painting

“A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.” -James Madison

As previously discussed in these spaces by Kelley Vlahos, Lucy Steigerwald, and myself, a group of senators are mulling a revision to the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force against those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks. In Senate testimony today, several Pentagon officials tried to dissuade making any changes to the law, which has been notoriously beneficial to the expansion of the warfare state and terribly detrimental to the rule of law, government transparency, and human liberty in general.

Indeed, “the AUMF opened the doors to the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya; attacks on Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Mali; the new drone bases in Niger and Djibouti; and the killing of American citizens, notably Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old noncombatant son,” write Michael Shank and Matt Southworth in the Guardian.

“It is what now emboldens the hawks on the warpath to Syria, Iran and North Korea,” they add.

One of the witnesses today, Assistant Secretary for Special Operations Michael Sheehan, said keeping the 2001 AUMF in place is important to facilitate the ongoing “war on terrorism,” which, he said, will last “at least ten to twenty [more] years.” And thanks to the terse wording of the law, that war has no geographic limit. Any individual or group unilaterally deemed an “associated force” by top officials can be targeted by the U.S. war machine anywhere in the world. And this extraordinary power cannot be rescinded until the overlords in the White House and the Pentagon say so.

It’s ironic that Sheehan made such a dramatic prediction of continuing to fight this “war,” if you can call it that, for another ten to twenty years when top national security officials have been noting publicly al-Qaeda’s growing irrelevance. Danger Room:

It was just two months ago the top U.S. intelligence official testified that al-Qaida had been battered by the U.S. into a state of disarray. A year ago, the current CIA director, John Brennan, said that “For the first time since this fight began, we can look ahead and envision a world in which the al Qaeda core is simply no longer relevant.” Just this week, the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Votel, told a Florida conference that he was looking at missions beyond the counterterrorism manhunt.

So why insist on keeping the blank-check-for-war AUMF intact?

First, the 2001 AUMF was a wet dream for the Masters of War in Washington who yearn for the day when any and all constraints on their actions in the realm of “national security” would evaporate. It carries with it immense, unchecked power that they are wont to preserve.

Second, in order to continue to carry out their Imperial Grand Strategy, they need to perpetuate a bogeyman. Without a monster to destroy, the public is much less apt to grant the state carte blanche to make war at will and keep it secret.

In an interview last year, former Secretary of State Colin Powell lamented, in a moment of candor, the fall of the Soviet Union. He described, admittedly with some irony, how apparently remorseful he and others in the military establishment were that America “lost our best enemy.” He said it was “one of the biggest challenges” he “ever faced” when the Cold War ended. That is, when we became much safer as opposed to when we might have faced a new enemy.

Absent the pretext of the Soviet threat, the thinking goes, how will we justify the expanding military and national security state? Powell says of the trumped up Soviet “threat” in no uncertain terms, “we’ve got a good thing going here.” The system – the “whole structure,” as he calls it, far from aiming to eliminate threats, “depended on there being a Soviet Union that might attack us.”

Al-Qaeda’s unlikely success on 9/11 helped change all that, and ever since, Washington has had a bogeyman to help justify expanding the warfare state.

In the March/April 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, Micah Zenko and Michael A. Cohen argue that we have a system that fuels unnecessary alarm and paranoia. “Warnings about a dangerous world also benefit powerful bureaucratic interests,” they write. “The specter of looming dangers sustains and justifies the massive budgets of the military and the intelligence agencies, along with the national security infrastructure that exists outside government — defense contractors, lobbying groups, think tanks, and academic departments.”

With any luck, the pleadings of the highest Pentagon officials won’t be heeded and AUMF can, as it should, be repealed. Unfortunately, that is not at all likely.




34 Responses to “AUMF, Never-Ending War, and America’s ‘Instruments of Tyranny’”

  1. [...] Authorization of Force and Never-Ending War [...]

  2. Isn´t it time for us to accept the truth that the bogyman really does exist? If you don´t believe me, just ask the government.

  3. [...] John Glaser: AUMF, Never-Ending War, and America’s ‘Instruments of Tyranny’ [...]

  4. Handwriting is beautiful good quality, let me study a lot.I appreciate there are many places lacking.

  5. [...] Link to original article [...]

  6. Right!

  7. As long as the gravy keeps flowing and the "homeland" does not suffer too much, the war on "terror" will continue. However, the country the MIC is supposedly protecting will no longer exist.

  8. [...] AUMF, Never-Ending War, and America’s ‘Instruments of Tyranny’ [...]

  9. America will be bankrupt long before this 30 year war reaches the end date of its planners.

    And note, whenever someone tells you that it will take 10 or 20 years to win a war, what they are really saying is that they haven't a clue how to win the war. The idea of winning in 10 or 20 years is a fantasy. If they knew how to win, they'd do it now. But, what they are really saying is that they can't see any hope of any sort of winning in the next 10 years, so now they are starting to 'set expectations'

    But, its clear the American taxpayers can't afford a 30 year war. We are already abandoning any repair of infrastructure, laying off nurses and teachers, selling off our assets to private companies, and have overtaxed the American workers to the point where the economy is sputtering and no one has anything left to spend. The bankers and generals have already stolen all the money, and yet they still can't get balance their budget and there's no way that can last or go on for another 20 years.

  10. The fascinating thing is the way the 'bogeyman' always exists and still keeps changing. The list goes something like …
    – "the Indians"
    – "the Spainards in Cuba who blew up the Maine"
    – "the Hun"
    – "The Yellow Peril"
    – "The Red Scare"
    – "veterans who come to DC to demand the bonus checks they were promised"
    – "the Commies"
    – "Castro and Cuba"
    – "The Viet Cong"
    – "Grenada"
    – "The red tide that's going to rise through Nicaragua and then take over Texas"
    – "Panama"
    – "China"
    – "Narco-Terrorist Drug Lords"
    – "China"
    – "Haiti"
    – "Terrorists"
    – "Iran, North Korea"
    – "Venezuela"
    – "Putin's Russia"
    – "China"

  11. “Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence. Any man who has once proclaimed violence as his method is inevitably forced to take the lie as his principle.”

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn

  12. What do expect even in the times of Jesus the righteous were few and the masses are simply mindless drones who stoned and eventually killed Jesus and then they used Christianity to justify slavery too

  13. Consider ‘incremental criminality;’ as soon as anyone gets away with some crime, limits start dropping off; the same or new perpetrators will repeat – and most likely extend – the un-remedied = now ‘acquiesced-to’ crime. (Due to often ‘arbitrary’ law, I define crime as anything which harms; i.e. lies, cheating, theft and/or murder.) The public has been systematically propagandised (= conscious manipulation of public opinions (US + quislings and coerced, mostly ‘Western’)); since latest Bernays’ observation of how well the ‘war to save democracy’ meme worked. ‘Naturally,’ as the lie-cloud (pushed propaganda paradigm) took hold, the rest of the crimes followed, each step easier than the previous. Two of the first (very!) *visible* steps in the US war on the USSR took place on “on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively.” Shortly thereafter, LeMay: “Over a period of three years or so, we killed off — what — twenty percent of the population of Korea,” and such massacres continued (on various ‘killing fields’) through April 29, 1975 and beyond. Then catastrophe struck (mostly for the M/I/C/$4a†-plex); the DDR-wall fell in 1989, and the USSR started to wither away. (Speaking of walls, the same sort of mass-murder for spoil was occurring other-where, behind an ‘iron wall;’ also ongoing, un-remedied and ‘Nuremberg-class.’) Then on 9/11, the loss of the USSR as visible enemy was rectified. (What luck? – thinking cui bono, for the M/I/C/$4a†-plex anyway – and just who ‘believes’ in luck?)

    There are a couple of problems with the headline article; hopefully ‘only’ due to something like faulty sub-editing, say:

    “would evaporate” could/should read “would *be* evaporated” – thnx Newton’s first; no change without some force.

    “much less apt to grant” assumes that the electorate may have some control; *not so* in our ‘Western’ sham democracies. (Proof = misled electorate(s), false-dichotomy two-party system, often bipartisan = *totally* un- & anti-democratic since there is *zero* effective choice, and when elected, many/most ‘representatives’ work *against* the 99%+ interests.)

    Not so BTW, “Al-Qaeda’s unlikely success on 9/11″ ignores any possible ‘cd’ component. Anyone who asserts/assumes that steel-framed buildings can be symmetrically felled by jet-fuel fires a) defines their stance, b) their audience and c) their credibility.

    The Zenko/Cohen para identifies some of the tyrant-cabal (what I call the M/I/C/$4a†-plex = military, industrial, Congress (US-speak for parliament); $ = banksters, 4 = 4th estate = MSM+PFBCs, ‘a’ = academia incl. think-tanks, † = the churches), and one of their eternal modi operandi = scare the subjects s**tless, then promise to save them.

    As a corollary to Newton’s first, it’s not what they say, but what they do that counts. What the ruling tyrant-cabal does is mass-murder for spoil, they won’t stop unless forced to stop.

  14. [...] FULL ARTICLE @ ANTIWAR [...]

  15. The War Powers Act, if it involved the Military, would be a violation of the Constitution. Congress is in charge of the Military,after a declaration of war, the President is Commander in Chief.
    The President is allowed to use the armed forces, under the W.P.A., without a declaration of war,the reason being the armed forces is not the Military. The armed force is the Commodity Credit Corporation
    COMMODITY CREDIT CORPORATION *CHARTER
    CHANGE OF NAME
    National Military Establishment changed to Department of Defense by act Aug. 10, 1949.

    CODIFICATION
    The Department of War was designated the Department of the Army and the title of the Secretary of War was changed to Secretary of the Army by section 205(a) of act July 26, 1947, ch. 343, title II, 61 Stat. 501. Section 205(a) of act July 26, 1947, was repealed by section 53 of act Aug. 10, 1956, ch. 1041, 70A Stat. 641. Section 1 of act Aug. 10, 1956, enacted “Title 10, Armed Forces” which in sections 3011 to 3013 continued the *military Department of the Army under the administrative supervision of a Secretary of the Army.

  16. [...] The never ending US “war on terror” has been a cash cow for the military-industrial complex and a drain on the US economy, but it looks like the money will keep pouring in for defense and security contractors. In testimony before the Senate this week concerning the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force bill (or otherwise known as the presidents free pass to attack anyone anywhere bill) a State Department official testified that the war on terror will go on for “at least ten to twenty [more] years.” ENJOY… [...]

  17. "…will no longer exist."

    doesn't exist…

  18. The American taxpayers couldn't afford a 2-year war, much less 2 10-year wars – and the other little wars they are fighting around the world. We are already bankrupt – the bankers just haven't called the note yet. And hopefully, when the note is called, the American taxpayers ensure that the politicians who got us where we are are the first to pay the note due.

  19. And sometime after that it was made a mercenary force for Israel's terrorism. And the bankers and corporations before that if Smedley Butler was correct. It should go back to calling itself the War Department since Defense Deprtment is an oxymoron.

  20. I keep encountering the cognitively dissonant assumption that Al-Qaeda was responsible for 9/11; and that the War on Terror was in any way justified, or winnable, or anything but an excuse for aggression.

  21. So what can we do other than to wait until the SCOTUS has a progressive majority and then hope they rule against the War Powers Act and the CIA?

    We can't defeat the Empire with force. We have to defeat them with TRUTH. That's why I teach.

  22. @ENVIROSCIGUY “then hope they rule against …”

    The ‘basic’ crimes are lying, cheating, theft and murder. OK; the latter three do obvious damage, but Q: Why is lying a crime? A: Because lying is deceit; lying directly damages target brains (‘say one thing, do another’ produces cognitive dissonance), and deceit is both pre- and post-requisite to other crimes. Proof: Without lies, the criminals would convict themselves. Next Q: Where do lies come from? A: Obviously, from criminal perpetrators, then brought to us, we the people via, and often *actively assisted* by the corrupt&venal MSM (+ scandalously PFBCs = publicly financed broadcasters). There is the “Achilles’ heel;” stopping the lies would expose the criminals. Then, Newton’s 1st law: “An object at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by a force,” ditto for ‘in motion;’ generalised = any existing state can only be changed by force. In this case, the force of public ridicule directed at the MSM + PFBCs, by exposing their complicity in the massive crimes of mass-murder for spoil, recently in Iraq and Libya, currently in Syria, planned for Iran (never forget Palestine, a supreme international crime by invading aliens = Zs, on-going and un-remedied these last 65+ bloody years); all organised by components of US/Zs, F+UK, NATO and even the world’s supposed supreme peace-police, the UN. Hope is a hopeless policy.

  23. Book: “Gladio, NATO’s Dagger at the Heart of Europe – The Pentagon-Nazi-Mafia Terror Axis”

    The author is provocative as he weaves his documented tale about the degree to which all left of center groups were penetrated in the aftermath of WWII, and I see how easily the intelligence and security services might have found it to manipulate groups into doing violence — or into taking the blame for false flag violence. On the basis of this book as well as others, I speculate that at least half the “threat” against which the USA has devoted considerable time, treasure, and trust, has been FALSE — self-made.

  24. Would anyone at antiwar.com care to a) explain then b) fix, why at this moment, I can see 23 comments to this thread if I use IE, and only 13 if I use Firefox? Thnx and rgds.

  25. [...] a discussion over at the Lawfare blog about whether or not finally repealing the expansive war powers authorized in the 2001 AUMF will actually do anything to constrain Obama and future U.S. [...]

  26. [...] a discussion over at the Lawfare blog about whether or not finally repealing the expansive war powers authorized in the 2001 AUMF will actually do anything to constrain Obama and future U.S. [...]

  27. [...] AUMF, Never-Ending War, and America's 'Instruments of Tyranny' [...]

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