The Need for a New AUMF
Not only must we be prepared for the possibility of a deadly and expanding regional conflict perpetrated by Iran and its proxies, it's high time Congress reassert its war-making authority.
Events are moving rapidly across the Greater Middle East region. Since the brutal October 7th terrorist attack against Israel, actors across the region have engaged in a multi-front, low-intensity, largely asymmetric, irregular war. Israeli forces and narco-terrorist group Hezbollah have clashed repeatedly along the Israel-Lebanon border. Tensions and violence have flared across the occupied West Bank, too, with firefights breaking out between Israeli forces, Israeli settlers, and Palestinians. 151 attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces conducting counterterrorism operations in Iraq and Syria have been recorded since the start of the Biden-Harris Administration, one-third of them within the last month.
Most worryingly, the Iranian-backed Houthi movement in Yemen is dramatically escalating strikes against Israel, U.S. forces, and maritime commerce. The Houthis have launched multiple missile and drone attacks against Israel for the past month. On November 19th, they executed a dramatic air assault hijacking of a cargo ship and a few days later were thwarted by U.S. naval forces in another hijacking attempt. After the would-be hijackers were detained by the USS Mason, the Houthis attempted to retaliate by launching two failed ballistic missile attacks.
We face a frightening constellation of Iranian-backed militant groups in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Occupied Palestine, and Yemen. American special forces are reportedly deployed to Israel, assisting in hostage recovery efforts. So far, the U.S. has responded with several rounds of retaliatory strikes in both Iraq and Syria. That’s been an ineffective strategy. Escalating threats to global maritime commerce, U.S. citizens, and general instability are forcing us to respond despite weariness after more than 30 years of involvement across Southwest Asia.
The United States must be prepared for the very real probability of a major regional war breaking out. Such a regional war would demand some form of American involvement. The best way to prepare is for Congress to pass an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against Iran and Iranian-backed militant groups.
Seeking an AUMF would have multiple positive strategic and political benefits. Building a broad, bipartisan coalition would help insulate a potential future conflict from partisan bickering. Building political unity would also demonstrate renewed resolve against American adversaries abroad. This would send not just a strategic warning to Iran and Iranian-backed militant groups, it would also send indirect strategic warnings to Russia (and her illegal war against Ukraine) and Communist China (about their escalating tensions against Taiwan and the Philippines, a U.S. treaty ally) about our resolve in the face of international aggression.
More than 30 years after the end of the Cold War, the United States remains the leader of the Free World. Despite the rise of China, Russia, and other American adversaries in global power, we remain the preeminent great power, the stabilizing force. Since the 2002 Iraq War AUMF, Congress hasn’t directly and explicitly authorized U.S. force deployment abroad. Not for Libya in the 2011. Not for Syria in 2014/2015 to launch counterterror operations against ISIS. Our Republic will not be sustainable so long as one branch of government refrains from its constitutional duty. Congress should not continue to be derelict in its war-making powers. Congress should act now to protect the American interest or risk its continued marginalization and the continued growth of the imperial presidency.
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