The United States Constitution is the foundation of American law. It provides the framework of our government and the function of each separate branch. The three branches each have their own function, with powers divided up equally among them.
The idea here is to prevent a single branch from accumulating an excess of power and becoming despotic.
Under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution, the power to declare war lies with Congress. While the President as Commander-in-chief has control over the military, the power to start a war itself lies with the legislative branch. The purpose of this separation is to allow for careful deliberation of a conflict before engaging.
It was with this in mind that Senator Rand Paul proposed repealing the original 2001 AUMF and debating a new authorization for new conflicts.
The 2001 AUMF was passed to authorize a military response to the horrific attacks of September 11th, 2001. After almost three thousand people were lost and several thousand more left injured, it was clear a response was needed to avenge the fallen.
But in the year 2017, we stand sixteen years after these terrorist attacks. A targeted mission to strike back at the terrorists who attacked us has become an open-ended justification for war without debate.
Given we’re so far removed from the goals of the original authorization, shouldn’t Congress do its constitutional duty to debate new wars?
Senator Susan Collins, who is currently considering a gubernatorial bid, doesn’t believe so.
While her colleague Senator Paul’s proposal would have forced Congress to perform its responsibility under the Constitution, it ultimately failed. Not only did it fail, it failed with the help of Senator Collins.
Why would Senator Collins oppose a new AUMF for additional conflicts, as required by the Constitution?
For conservatives and libertarians, this should be a cause for concern. We know the importance of the Constitution and why war should be an absolute last resort. The cost in blood and money is far too great for it to be an easy decision.
For liberals, one should ask why Senator Collins is comfortable with President Donald Trump having the unchecked power to go to war wherever he wishes.
The unchecked power to go to war without debate was wrong for President Barack Obama and it is wrong for President Donald Trump. It is wrong for any President. While Congress authorized action immediately after 9/11 to avenge those lost on 9/11, it did not authorize any and all military conflicts the President simply wishes to begin.
Repeal the sixteen year old authorization and debate every major military conflict, as the Constitution requires.