Senator Merkley Asserts His Constitutional Responsibility to Declare War
Washington, D.C. — May 23, 2018 — Ahead of newly confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifying Thursday at 10 AM Eastern in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), a member of the committee, introduced an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against several violent extremist groups. In response, Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action’s Senior Director for Policy and Political Affairs, released the following statement:
“Today, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, showed how seriously he takes his constitutional oath by introducing an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that would reclaim Congress’ Article I war powers by repealing the outdated AUMFs meant for al Qaeda and Iraq. The framers of the Constitution made it clear that Congress, not the Commander in Chief, declares war.
“After Americans found out that the Bush administration led the U.S. into the Iraq War based on lies, their opposition quickly grew and they held politicians accountable for supporting a foreign policy disaster. Since then, many in Congress have skirted their war making responsibilities. Merkley’s courage to commit to debating and voting on war and peace issues at least every three years is laudable.
“For over sixteen years, three administrations have stretched their legal authority or broke the law to wage wars in dozens of countries, wars that have cost millions of lives and trillions of dollars.
“The Senator’s bill calls for an accurate accounting of both military and civilian deaths and injuries as well as financial costs, which are not only U.S. moral and legal obligations but are important for military families and for ensuring our nation’s security. Killing civilians, destroying civilian infrastructure, and proliferating weapons can all create more violent extremism.
“As Peace Action helped pass the War Powers Resolution over President Nixon’s Veto, we appreciate Senator Merkley’s efforts to make sure the U.S. avoids another Vietnam War, which his AUMF would do by putting strict limits on ground troops.
“Unfortunately, what’s missing from the congressional debate is whether the so-called ‘War on Terror’ is working. The U.S. has spent trillions attempting to counter violent extremism and only a fraction of that amount on prevention. Proven long-term strategies include poverty alleviation, education and the empowerment and democratic participation of women and youth. Merkley’s AUMF wisely looks to prevent violent extremism by requiring the U.S. report on diplomatic, development and humanitarian goals.”
Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to international conflicts. The public may learn more and take action at www.PeaceAction.org.