While some of our nation’s officials argue about how the nation can’t afford good health care, affordable education or Social Security increases for our elderly, the House quietly found $22 billion more for the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, the military policy bill, for a total of a $738 billion. Only a few days before the vote, Congress stripped itself of its constitutional power to end the endless wars (which have cost $6 trillion and left 400,000 people dead in Iraq and Afghanistan). In effect it gave the administration a blank check on current and future wars, including the new Space Force, which opens us up for a new nuclear arms race.

All of this occurred without public debate as to whether any of the past authorizations or expenses have made us more secure or met our values as a nation.

Under Article I of the Constitution, Congress has the sole authority to decide whether to take the country into a prolonged war. But within a week of 9/11, Congress gave up this authority to the president and we invaded Afghanistan. One year later Congress gave up more authority and we invaded Iraq.

There was a provision added to the 2020 NDAA to repeal the Iraq authorization from 2002, but this was stripped from the final act. Without this repeal, any administration can continue to commit our troops with no public debate, no goals, no exit strategy.

Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King should vote against the 2020 NDAA and require that the repeal of the Iraq authorization be returned in the language before accepting it. And the media should keep the public informed on the military policy discussions.

Our policies that deal with conflict in the world should reflect our values of peace on Earth and good will to all.

 

Holly Weidner

Vassalboro


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