The Biden administration’s stunning display of incompetence in Afghanistan has rocked the foreign policy standing of the United States to its very foundation. Given this fact and the renewed attention to the George W. Bush-era origins of the nearly 20-year fruitless engagement, is now an ideal time for non-neoconservative Republicans and Democrats in Congress to work together to clip presidential military adventurism by reaffirming Congress’s sole power to declare war?
The House has already passed legislation repealing authorizations for the use of military force (AUMFs) for the 1991 Gulf War and 2002 Iraq War. The Senate is set to vote on the issue later this year, Politico reported in July. Unsurprisingly, GOP hawks are expected to be the leading backers of executive power.
A Free Hand For the Smug and the Arrogant?
“Presidents should be authorized… to go after terrorists or other armed groups who seek to harm the United States or our personnel deployed anywhere in the world, on an ongoing basis, and to do whatever is necessary to degrade their capability to strike us — and if possible to wipe them out of existence,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was quoted by Politico as saying one month before the fall of Kabul.
Rubio now finds himself confronted with the awkward situation of trying to justify ceding such sweeping powers to an administration widely pilloried for orchestrating what is being called the most disastrous foreign policy humiliation since Jimmy Carter and the Iran hostage crisis in the late ‘70s.
Leading that charge to assail Biden is none other than Marco Rubio. Here’s the Florida senator sharing his opinions on the catastrophe with Fox News host Sean Hannity:
“You look at the intelligence, you look at everything before this – it was clear that not only was the worst-case scenario out there, it was the likeliest outcome that was going to happen.
And we kept insisting, ‘What is the plan if this happens? What is the plan?’ And they arrogantly and smugly ignored it. They ignored everyone who was warning them because they’re the ‘experts,’ they know everything, and now we’re seeing the consequences.”
Oof. No punches pulled there. Unfortunately for Rubio, the remarks may end up bloodying his own cause as much as they ding Team Biden.
For how exactly does one argue in favor of giving these same “smug experts” carte blanche to send tens of thousands of U.S. troops anywhere in the world in the name of some ill-defined “police action” after delivering such a damning indictment?
Enter Doubt – A Lot of It
Interestingly, Biden’s weak turn at the wheel of what critics decry as the imperious presidency that has developed since 9/11 may be the very thing to help Congress restore its authority on foreign military deployments.
“This fall marks 20-year anniversaries of both the 9/11 attacks and of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) under which we continue to operate – now for a full generation. Today it is well past time for Congress to revise or replace that authorization,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) declared in an Aug. 14 statement.
“The U.S. mission in Afghanistan morphed into a nation-building project that was well beyond the scope authorized in the 2001 AUMF,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) told the Washington Examiner.
Donald Trump-aligned America First Republicans and progressive Democrats both want to put a halt to the endless wars of the past 20 years. Those who supported a muscular executive branch as George W. Bush sat in the White House now find themselves profoundly out of step with the vast majority of Americans on the issue today. What Swamp senator in 2021, no matter how establishment they may be, is going to risk stepping up to the plate to fervently echo the stale visions of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Joe Lieberman?
And now there is an even more damaging aspect added to the mix. What senator is going to risk coming across as a devout believer in this administration’s foreign policy competency after the Afghanistan debacle?
“There is no doubt that President Biden possesses the ability to defend our forces abroad, and I continue to trust inherently the national security instincts of this White House,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said after Biden authorized air strikes in Iraq and Syria in June.
“My concern is that the pace of activity directed at U.S. forces and the repeated retaliatory strikes against Iranian proxy forces are starting to look like what would qualify as a pattern of hostilities under the War Powers Act,” Murphy continued. “Both the Constitution and the War Powers Act require the president to come to Congress for a war declaration under these circumstances.”
The pure political truth is that the Carter-level bungling perpetrated by Joe Biden’s administration in recent days has made the latter half of Murphy’s remarks all the more convincing and the first part completely ludicrous.
Ultimately, it is the executive branch itself that may suffer the consequences.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.