Declaring Permanent War on the World: “When is the War on Terror Over?”


“When is the war on terror over?”

So asked Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) today. And then he promptly answered himself:

I don’t know what the answer is to the question.”

When the head of the Senate Armed Service Committee asks a rhetorical question like this, and then has no answer, quite simply we are fucked.

Terrorism has been around since the dawn of time, and will be with the human species until we evolve socially and culturally beyond using war and violence to resolve our differences. 

Given the current climate in Washington, and all over the capitalist world, if we are going to maintain a permanent state of war via the AUMF until terrorism ends, then it will be a cold day in hell before we again see peace in, and being projected from, the United States.

Here’s Levin’s statement in context:

“We should be having a conversation about how to update the authorization of the use of military force, but we still have to protect the country while we’re having that discussion,” [Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas)] said. “Unfortunately, this puts the cart before the horse deciding to repeal [AUMF] before we know what will be used to replace it.”

“The world is still dangerous,” he added. “The terrorists are still coming for us. We need to keep this in place.”

Even if the measure had passed the House, the Senate is similarly ambivalent about taking on the AUMF, which also provides the legal basis for detaining terror suspects indefinitely in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) told HuffPost in an interview that his committee was not looking at a similar provision as it debates its own version of the NDAA bill this week.

“It’s a very complex issue,” Levin said. “If there’s no AUMF, what do you do with guys like Khalid Sheik Mohammed? If there is an AUMF, we have a right to keep people under the laws of war until that’s over.”

Levin admitted he was at a loss as to what to do.

“I’m the first one to acknowledge there’s a real intellectual problem here as to when is the war on terror over, or when does that authorization end,” Levin said. “It’s a huge issue. It needs to be debated. There needs to be hearings on it. I don’t know the answer to the question. Maybe if I knew the answer to the question I’d be a little more sure about an amendment. But I don’t know what the answer is to the question.”

He echoed Thornberry about the ongoing risk of terrorism.

“There continues to be a threat from the same threat or an associated source that existed when we passed the AUMF. That threat continues,” Levin said.

“A real intellectual problem here…”

I’d say. And I’d add that’s just the tip of the iceberg

  1. steve kelly

    This is a joke, right? Which AUMF? The 1991 “Operation Desert Storm” (H.R.J. Res. 77), or the Post 9/11 (PL #107-40) authorization, or the “Iraq War Resolution” (PL #107-243)?

    This is all about restoring DOD appropriations “lost” in the “sequester.” Social Security and Medicare cuts will likely be “necessary to pay for it.” Remember Bowles-Simpson?

    War criminals, all about war, have only one problem, ordinary people tired of their bullshit. That’s why we have Public Television, Fox and all the other MSM invented to bamboozle each particular market segment.

  2. CharleyCarp

    The 2001 AUMF doesn’t authorize war “on terror.” It authorizes war on (a) the nations/group(s)/people that planned/executed/aided the 9/11 attack and (b) nations/groups that harbored (a). And not for open ended purposes, but to prevent further terrorism by (a).

    Courts have repeatedly held that this war is still going on, in Afghanistan, as we’re fighting the Taliban, which seems to have been intended by (b), There hasn’t been a case, so far as I know, that has found that our military involvement in Yemen — where we are allied with the government fighting a franchise of AQ — is within this AUMF.

    • JC

      So you’re fine with the status quo?

      And if you think that our Senate Committee Chairman is wrong with his statements, then from where does the DoD find the authority to use drones in other countries to kill “terrorists?” Where does the authority for indefinite detention, rendition, and murdering of Americans overseas unrelated to the Taliban derive?

      And do you believe that the AUMF as you see it allows a genocide against the Taliban? Or at some point is it ok to say we’ve killed enough in the name of 9/11 and we can move on?

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