In the wake of 9/11, a congressional catastrophe known as the “authorization for use of military force” (AUMF) was abruptly passed by the U.S. Congress. The original intention of the AUMF was to target and annihilate the perpetrators of 9/11. It stipulates: “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” However, since then, it has come clear to the public’s attention that this bill has been arbitrarily taken out of context and used as a legal basis for multiple foreign interventions across the globe.
The fact that the United States is allowed to operate AUMF without any legislative scrutiny from the public is morally reprehensible. The problem is that the general public itself is so disconnected and ill-informed on the issue that no one talks about it. Sixteen years down the line, with at least seven different countries invaded (Afghanistan, Yemen, Kenya, Somalia, Iraq, etc…), the United States has continued to abstain itself from properly conducting its war powers. As a result, several trillion dollars have been burned, thousands of people tortured, millions displaced, and ISIL was born in Iraq. But the point is, the United States still refuses to amend the bill concerning the AUMF.
So, why have Congress not amended the bill yet? Why has the government not been able to update the bill in accordance with the status quo? Columnist Bonnie Kristian suggests that a debate on such bill will lack the drive to push for a revisionist bill. Kristian also said, “most Americans lack the appetite we had 15 years ago for large-scale, limitless intervention at the president’s sole discretion.” The United States enjoys priding itself as the world’s leading expert and leader on human rights. It views itself as the last line of defense, a bulwark committed in its fight against global terrorism. By removing or weakening the bill, not only could it undermine its effort in participating in perpetual wars but also hinder massive interests they have around the globe.
The truth is that the AUMF is problematic and requires new amendments. For example, the AUMF does not particularly specify the enemy and mission objectives. Neither is it compliant with the U.S.’s obligations under international laws. Furthermore, it does not include any reporting transparency that can keep both the Congress and the public well in check. There are in fact many fundamental elements that can be incorporated into a new AUMF to strengthen it and make it less obscure and less precarious to those targeted by U.S. military operations.