The Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has been dead for 14 years. The U.S. Congress might finally get around to repealing the law that authorized military force against him—and has helped keep American troops there ever since.
Nixing the law, known as the 2002 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), has been an antiwar priority for years, and it finally has traction in Congress. On Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will mark up Rep. Barbara Lee’s bill to repeal it. But it’s also not the 2002 AUMF that matters most. That would be the 2001 AUMF, the 60-word document written after 9/11 that birthed a global unrestricted battlefield.
Despite President Joe Biden’s pledge to “end endless wars,” despite a Democrat-controlled Congress, even despite some conservative support, there is little legislative momentum to end the key legal underpinning of the forever-conflict. While repealing the 2002 authorization is overdue—something that conceals years of unglamorous work by the antiwar movement and its legislative allies—some fear that Democrats will congratulate themselves on a job well done, take a bow, and leave the much broader 2001 AUMF in place.