Back in 2002, when Congress was debating giving George W. Bush expansive authorization to go to war in Iraq, one of the main concerns of skeptics was that the authorization could be used by the White House to engage in acts of war in the future that had only a tangential relation to the supposed purpose of the invasion of Iraq: To capture and destroy Iraq’s massive stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.
Those stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons turned out to be completely imaginary, but Congress voted to give the White House authorization to go to war in Iraq anyway, without any time limit or specific objective that was to be achieved. Congress brushed aside all concerns, chanting the mantra United We Stand… United We Stand…
Indeed, that authorization for war in Iraq never went away – not even when Barack Obama finally removed American soldiers from Iraqi soil.
So, even though it’s eleven years after the American invasion of Iraq began, and George W. Bush has been out of office for more than five years, the White House still claims the power to go to war in Iraq whenever it wants to.
This week, President Barack Obama has asserted that he can send the American military to go fight in the Iraqi Civil War without any permission from Congress – because he already has all the permission he needs.
Nobody claims that the current Iraqi Civil War has anything to do with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, or with weapons of mass destruction, the original justifications for American involvement in Iraqi wars. None of that matters now, because Congress gave the White House war powers with few limitations.
All that Congress can do to stop Obama from taking America back into war in Iraq is to pass legislation that prohibits him from doing so. That’s something that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans seem to have enough political courage to do.
So, the foolish, faulty pro-war hype that was pushed for political reasons a dozen years ago continues to hold sway. Will the next American president send the American military into Iraq again, still using these old war powers? Will war in Iraq become an Oval Office tradition?