18 May 2019   Leave a comment

I will confess that I am a fan of The Game of Thrones. I read the books many years ago (and am still waiting for Martin to finish the story) and have accepted the fact that the TV series is a very different–but still interesting–story. In the last episode, we watched one of the main characters commit what is easily identified as a war crime–the indiscriminate killing of innocents in the takeover of a major city. Spencer Kornhaben has written a piece for The Atlantic which analyzes the fictional account with historical examples of similar acts. It is a very interesting essay which is worth the read.

NBC News is reporting that the Trump Administration believes that the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) gives it the legal authority to wage war against Iran. The 2001 AUMF was passed by Congress on 18 September 2001 in response to the attacks on 11 September 2001. The relevant part of the resolution reads as follows:

“That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

The AUMF has been invoked in at least 30 circumstances since 2001, Business Insider recounted the circumstances as of 2013:

“As of 2013, the 2001 AUMF had been invoked more than 30 times to authorize troop deployments and other military measures, including detentions at Guantanamo Bay and military trials for terrorism suspects.

“Under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the 2001 AUMF was used to justify the deployment of US forces to Afghanistan, the Philippines, Georgia, Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, and Somalia.”

The Congressional Research Service has written a study of the uses of the AUMF under Bush and Obama. The extensive use of the AUMF has led many to believe that the US is involved in an endless war.

The idea that a resolution passed 18 years ago still authorizes war is preposterous–it assumes that nothing that was done or not done by both sides could possibly change the calculations of each side. Or that neither side could learn anything from 18 years of interaction. Or that 18 years of war is a solution to a dispute.

Moreover, the idea that a resolution that specifically mentions “nations, organizations, or persons” could link Iran to the events of 11 September is completely uninformed. Iran was an informal ally to the US in the war against the Islamic State in Syria. al Qaeda represents the interests of Sunni Muslims and Iran represents the interests of Shia Muslims. US Secretary of State Pompeo made this statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

“‘The factual question with respect to Iran’s connections to Al-Qaeda is very real. They have hosted al Qaeda, they have permitted al Qaeda to transit their country,’ he said at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing. ‘There is no doubt there is a connection between the Islamic Republic of Iran and al Qaeda. Period, full stop.’”

I would like to see that evidence in full. I find the assertion difficult to accept. It is a very thin reed on which to start a war.

Posted May 18, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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