Looking at consequences of AUMF

CNN looks briefly at how U.S. presidents now routinely use the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) as justification for military actions.

According to a May 2016 report from the Congressional Research Service, there have been “37 relevant occurrences of an official record, disclosed publicly, of presidential reference to the 2001 AUMF in connection with initiating or continuing military or related action.” That includes “detentions and military trials,” like those carried out in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Let’s remember that California Democratic Representative Barbara Lee was the only member of either house of Congress to vote against the measure. Below is an interview Democracy New conducted with Lee regarding her vote and the AUMF. As you watch her speech, which is shown early in the clip, keep in mind that it was made days after the attacks of 9/11/01, when the mood of the American government, media and people made giving such a statement especially difficult.

A hammer in search of a nail

What exactly are we (the U.S.) up to around the world? In a riveting documentary called “Dirty Wars”, Jeremy Scahill sheds light on some of the American involvement in places like Afghanistan and Yemen. The movie prompts another round of the same questions some of us have been asking for years:

Regardless of how many people are killed, will the so-called war on terror ever end as long as there are American politicians willing to continue it, and voters willing to keep electing those politicians?

Is this so-called war making America, and the world, more or less stable and safe?

Did we help create problems that we can’t simply kill our way out of?

If the answers to the above questions are obvious to us, why aren’t they obvious to more people?

One of the more chilling quotes was made regarding Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

What we have essentially done is created one hell of a hammer, and for the rest of our generation, for the rest of my lifetime, this force will be continually searching for a nail.

This comment was offered by a Somali warlord.

America knows war. They are war masters. They know better than me. So when they’re funding a war, they know how to fund it…. They know very well. They are teachers, great teachers.

White House meeting memo

If you’re ever tempted to believe that government officials are transparent and honest with their citizens about matters of war and peace, and that war is always seen as the absolute last resort, this short clip from Britain’s Channel 4 may snap you back to reality.

I’m not saying that leaders never believe that war is the best option. There may have been some who honestly believed that invading Iraq was justifiable. However, they rarely trust that public opinion will be with them if they present only a fair and honest presentation of the facts. So they find the justifications they believe will most galvanize public opinion in their favor.

A frightening time

I’m sure at every period in history, at least some people believed they were in the scariest, most dangerous era ever. Many people believe we are in the worst time in history right now.

If you are young enough to have not lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, watch this national address by President John Kennedy and imagine how it felt to see such a speech live, knowing that the human race could be near extinction at any moment. Luckily for us all, a combination of rational leadership and luck led to a peaceful solution, without which I might never have been born.

The second video is a civil defense film that was produced in 1951 and was shown in schools as part of the “duck and cover” campaign. Again, imagine seeing this as a child.