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Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman affirmed the administration’s position during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tuesday, a day before the committee begins a full markup of the repeals of the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force against Iraq.
“I want to state clearly that the Biden-Harris administration believes the 2002 authorization for use of military force against Iraq has outlived its usefulness and should be repealed,” Sherman said. “And the administration has made clear that we have no ongoing military activities that rely solely on the 2002 AUMF.”
She explained that the 2002 AUMF “is no longer necessary to protect the American people from terrorism, to respond to attacks on our personnel or facilities, or to ensure the safety and security of our people” and that commander in chief “has other tools available to achieve these objectives.”
The 1991 AUMF authorized the United States to expel Iraq forces from Kuwait, which it did in the Persian Gulf War, and the 2002 AUMF was passed to authorize the military’s use of force to stop “continuing threat posed by Iraq” and the country’s suspected arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, supports the repeal, saying that “these authorizations simply do not reflect reality, which is that any U.S. troops currently in Iraq are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government."
"Indeed, the president just welcomed Prime Minister [Mustafa] Kadhimi to the White House for a strategic dialogue. It simply makes no sense to keep an authorization against Iraq," Menendez said.
Biden and Kadhimi announced last week that America's combat mission in Iraq would cease at the end of the year, leaving the remaining troops to act in an advisory capacity.
On the other hand, ranking Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho said he’s “concerned” about the repeal, arguing that it adds to Biden’s administration’s “wrong message” to “both our friends and our enemies.”
“The fact of the matter is that the 2002 AUMF provides the only statutory authority to strike Iran-backed militias in Iraq,” he added. “After all, the 2002 AUMF served as part of the legal basis for the strike against Gen. Soleimani.”
Sherman indirectly pushed back on this notion, saying the president “relied on his Article II authority to direct strikes” in Syria and Iraq and that he “did not need the 2002 AUMF.”
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Original Author: Mike Brest