Thousands of Americans have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for 16 years in the longest war in U.S. history. Sadly, there is still no clear end in sight. We’ve lost thousands of soldiers and have seen little progress. In fact, experts believe the Taliban and Islamic terrorist groups have only become stronger.
Senators Take Opposing Stands
On September 11th, the sixteenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Senator Rand Paul announced a new legislative initiative on the wars in the Middle East. He hopes to repeal the AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force), which weakens Congress’ power to declare war. Congress passed the AUMF on September 18th 2001, which authorized the use of U.S. armed forces against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
Repealing the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs would restore respect for the balance of power and reassert Congress’ voice by forcing legislators to specifically approve or disapprove the direction of our foreign policy. If my provision passes, the authorizations would sunset six months later, allowing Congress time for a thorough debate about how we will move forward.
Then, he tweeted:
We have been there for 16 years. It is time for them to end. It is time for Congress to vote on whether or not they should end.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) September 11, 2017
He also noted that the U.S. has lost trillions of dollars and thousands of lives, with very little payoff. Indeed, contrary to President Trump’s suggestion of a possible victory in the Middle East, a stalemate is the only foreseeable outcome at this point. We probably won’t lose, but we might not win either.
Other Senators, such as Senator Marco Rubio, seem to disagree with Senator Paul’s attempt to end the war. In fact, Senator Rubio praised President Trump’s aggressive Afghan strategy.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 22, 2017
Congress Should Declare War
Senator Paul ultimately wants Congress to regain control over war powers and be able to vote on whether the U.S. should engage in war. In recent years, Congress has left those questions to the president. However, this is unconstitutional. The role of declaring war is an enumerated power delegated to Congress in the Constitution, meaning that these decisions should return to their discretion.
Although the war is costly and seemingly endless, I believe Senator Rubio’s approach is the safest. ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban are dangerous groups. However, I also agree with Senator Paul that the power to declare war should rightly return to Congress.