Repeal the AUMF and end the Global War on Terror

The International Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America applauds the House’s recent vote to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) Against Iraq. We urge the Senate to follow suit and pass S.J.Res.10, which would finally remove one of the legal cornerstones of the U.S.’s Global War on Terror.

While most of the U.S.’s current military operations are authorized under the 2001 AUMF, the repeal of the 2002 AUMF is still welcome and long overdue. It has helped justify nearly two decades of military activities in Iraq, even after the U.S. declared the Iraq War over in 2011. Both the Obama and Trump Administrations cited the 2002 AUMF as one of the legal justifications for the air war against ISIS, and the Trump administration stated that the 2002 AUMF could be used to “defend” Iraq by taking military action in Iran and Syria.

The potential scope of this authorization was made disturbingly clear in the Trump administration memo to Congress, which cites the 2002 AUMF as legal authority for the assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani:

Although the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s regime was the initial focus of the statute, the United States has long relied upon the 2002 AUMF to authorize the use of force for the purpose of establishing a stable, democratic Iraq and addressing terrorist threats emanating from Iraq.

Even if this interpretation were legally sound, any use of the 2002 AUMF today should be regarded as political and moral cowardice. Congress should have never authorized war against Iraq, and the resulting public law still invokes what are now widely-recognized lies, like Iraq’s “continuing weapons of mass destruction program” and “ongoing support for international terrorist groups.” The legacy of this law—the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq—remains one of the greatest international crimes of the 21st century.

This should be reason enough for Congress to repeal this law, and it should reveal how flimsy the case for the Global War on Terror is that the 2002 AUMF is still part of its legal framework. While “national security” is invoked to marshal defenses for U.S. hegemony and American capital, twenty years of the Global War on Terror has hardly made Americans more secure. Instead, we have seen an ever-growing share of our national resources deployed in fighting manufactured and far-away threats, while we are left to fend for ourselves without guaranteed healthcare, housing, or employment during a global pandemic. The framework of a “war on terror” has only helped arm and empower the police, expand domestic surveillance, and profile Americans as enemy combatants based on their race and religion.

The International Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America urges DSA members everywhere to organize for an immediate repeal, without replacement, of both the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force, and an end to the Global War on Terror. Please email [email protected] for further information and to connect with the national coordinators of this campaign.