House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s rebuke of President Trump for drastically increasing tensions with Iran is raising questions about why he has been allowed to carry out various other bombing campaigns in the Middle East, and why he was given a $738 billion defense budget with no oversight…
As the United States teeters on the brink of war with Iran over the latest escalations, it is raising questions about just what is allowed under the US Constitution, and if Congress will be required to vote before more action is taken.
The question of ‘Will Congress get a vote?’ is one that can be applied to nearly all of the US military conquests we have seen over the last two decades, but many are warning that the latest escalation with Iran could have dire consequences.
Under the United States Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war—a founding principle that was meant to prevent the president from acting alone, and to hold elected officials accountable by making them give justification for why they believed another country was a direct threat to the US.
But the latest spree of bombing campaigns in Iraq had occurred without a declaration of war from Congress, and it appears to be the latest US military action justified by a single approval that was passed more than 18 years ago.
The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force was signed into law by the administration of George W. Bush just one week after 9/11. Not only did it hold Al-Qaeda responsible for the attacks, but it gave the US the power to target anyone linked to the group.
The AUMF stated, “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.”
Bush used the resolution to launch wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—and while the justifications used by his administration have since been proven false, the wars are still ongoing today.
The advances in technology were paired with the years-old declaration under Obama, and he earned the nickname of “Drone King” by carrying out an unprecedented number of drone strikes.
The Obama Administration bombed Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan, all by claiming they were targeting Al-Qaeda and its affiliates. And the Democratic President received very little attention from his Republican rivals when he dropped more than 26,000 bombs in just one year.
While Obama was in office, Trump was one of his biggest critics, taking to Twitter in 2011 to write, “in order to get elected, Obama will start a war with Iran.”
But now that Trump, himself is in the driver’s seat he has used that same AUMF to continue the bombing campaigns of his predecessor, leading to record civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Yemen. And as Trump is also facing re-election, he appears to be running full steam ahead towards a direct military conflict with Iran, and he is holding nothing back when threatening to use the full force of the US military.
Now, it remains to be seen if Congress will actually step in and demand to use the power they were given in the first place, nearly two decades after the last Authorization for use of Military Force was passed.