Does Congress or the President have war powers? | Opinion
More than 20 years ago, the global war on terrorism began following the attacks of September 11, 2001. It was not the first time that America had gone to war after an attack, but there was something something different in this war.
In the past, when we were attacked, we pursued the specific group that attacked us. Instead, President George W. Bush tricked the American people into going to war with a tactic and, one might say, an ideology, instead of a specific group.
In the fervor that followed, Congress ceded to the president its constitutional duty to decide when America goes to war. Congress did so by passing the Authorization to use military force. It gave carte blanche to the chief executive to send American soldiers to fight any enemy chosen by the president – all under the guise of fighting terrorism.
The authorization has since been used to justify combat operations around the world: from Iraq and Afghanistan to Yemen and Syria, among many other conflicts.
We entered these wars without clear objectives and without an exit strategy. This inevitably led to mission creep and, at times, changes in operational objectives that contradicted each other.
A good example of this was Bush’s 2006 “redirection”. Bush decided that, while fighting the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, which was mainly made up of foreign fighters from Al-Qaeda, to support radical Sunni rebels in Syria. Part of Bush’s justification was to support the Saudis in their operations against Iran-backed Shiite groups, which is essentially the same justification for our involvement in Yemen.
Has our interference in the Middle East made the region more stable? It’s pretty clear not. In fact, our interference has made the region even more unstable. We created power vacuums, which gave birth to groups even more oppressive, barbaric and extreme than those we deposed.
Our wars have not only negatively affected the peoples of the various nations with which we have interfered. They have also cost US taxpayers approximately $8 trillion, and they have cost us the lives of thousands of service members, while leaving thousands more with mental and physical injuries.
Nor should we forget the hundreds of thousands of civilian lives that have been lost in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Yemen. America should be an example for other countries of what they should strive for, but instead we act as the bully of the playing field, forcing countries to do what we want and trying to beat all those we don’t like.
When I was an infantry soldier, I heard a bunch of reasons the guys I served with joined the infantry, but not one enlisted to become the world police. We owe it to our military, our country, and the citizens of other countries to put an end to this “Team America: World Police” scheme that we have been carrying out for 20 years. Ideally, the opportunity to capitalize on this failed policy is pretty much here.
A Recovery of War Powers bill is currently sitting in Congress. It is up to us, the American people, to urge our elected officials to support it. If you value the lives of our military, civilians around the world, and sound fiscal policy, please join me in encouraging Senator Mike Lee to publicly support this resolution that would put America and our troops first.
Brandon Williamson is a U.S. Army Veteran and the Social Media Director at Young Americans for Liberty. He lives in Wyoming.