When is the blank check for war going to end? Eighteen years after 9/11 we are still fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq is in shambles. Fifty-one Mainers have sacrificed their lives in these two wars. Based on our population size, proportionately more Mainers died in these wars than did residents of any other state. Many more were terribly injured.

Three days after 9/11, Congress gave President George W. Bush advance permission to use military force against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Three administrations have used this and a second Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Iraq to expand the war to more than half a dozen groups around the world, including those in Syria and Somalia. President Donald Trump has the power to engage in war under the provisions of these two overly broad authorizations. They do not contain sunset clauses, clear military targets, geographic restrictions or restrictions on the use of ground troops.

The Constitution gives Congress the sole authority to decide when the U.S. goes to war and requires Congress to conduct oversight of them. It is now time for Congress to reassert its authority to rein in these ever expanding wars on stateless actors throughout the world.

Two bills have been introduced in Congress that address the limitations of the current authorizations. We thank Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, for co-sponsoring H.R. 1274, an act to repeal the 2001 authorization in the House. We urge Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, to do the same.

And in the Senate, Oregon’s Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced an alternative authorization to stop endless war and preserve the Congress’s constitutional authority to declare war. We ask Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to support this bill. Endless wars are not the answer.

Nan Bell
Linda Wilcox
Kennebec Advocacy Team

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