Zombie Iraq War: Why Haven't We Repealed the Authorization to Fight There?

Congress can't even manage to definitively end an unpopular war that the president long ago declared over.
mem day full.jpg
Reuters

President Obama spoke last week about the importance of ultimately repealing the September 18, 2001, Authorization for Use of Military Force, due to the danger of remaining on permanent war footing.

But what about the other grant of war powers that's still operative? As the sharp-eyed Marcy Wheeler first noted, there wasn't any mention of needing to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. This despite the fact that Obama declared the conflict officially over as of January 1, 2012. Isn't it worth repealing this authority to guard against mischief by a future president more inclined to delve back into the country than Congress or the people?

After all, the GOP has a lot of politicians like that.

The last time anyone tried to repeal the Iraq AUMF was November 29, 2011, when Rand Paul's effort failed 67 to 30 with three members abstaining. That's a staggering margin for keeping the war going. Here are the senators who supported Paul's effort and voted to repeal the Iraq War authorization:

end iraq war yeahs.png

Here are the ones who favored keeping the Iraq AUMF in effect:

aumf no.png

The dearth of support for repealing the AUMF for an unpopular conflict that was ending in practice anyway doesn't bode well for those of us who'd like to see the War on Terror AUMF repealed. But Paul's effort has at least given us a list of who to blame if a future president makes more mischief in Iraq -- 2016 contender Marco Rubio and now-Secretary of State John Kerry, for starters.

Presented by

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it. They are repulsed by it."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."

Video

What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Politics

Just In