Tuesday 16th of July 2024

a blank check giving the US government unlimited powers to wage war without debate....

This year, there seemed to be reason for optimism among advocates of war powers reform. When the Senate voted in March to repeal the 2002 authorization for war with Iraq, many assumed the House would quickly pass the measure, which had garnered broad bipartisan support in previous years.

But that optimism may be misplaced, as a hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee demonstrated Thursday. Far from showing a desire to wrestle back their war-making authorities, most lawmakers appear determined to maintain the status quo that has seen U.S. troops carry out operations in more than 20 countries around the world.



Congress to replace 2001 AUMF with … 2001 AUMF


The hearing revolved around the holy grail of war powers: the 2001 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and any groups that harbored them. Despite concerns that the law has been stretched well past its original intent, Congress has struggled to build consensus on a replacement. 

Yet Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the HFAC chair, has made clear that he will only consider repealing the 2002 AUMF alongside a repeal-and-replace of the 2001 version. This may have been a clever attempt to prevent a straight repeal of the 2002 law, but, after a month of negotiations, McCaul now says he hopes to mark up a compromise bill by the end of October.

McCaul opened discussion on Thursday by arguing that America still faces “terrorists committed to our destruction” around the world. (It should be noted that the Department of Defense says the threat to the homeland from Al Qaida, ISIS, and Al Shabaab is “low” and possibly non-existent.) 

McCaul said he would not consider putting geographic restrictions on a replacement, going against a key proposal among war powers reformers, who warn that unrestricted AUMFs are ripe for exploitation by the executive branch. Most of his colleagues — including a number of Democrats — agreed with McCaul’s approach.

In fact, the only substantive point of disagreement between lawmakers was over which groups should be included in a replacement AUMF. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), the ranking member on the committee, has proposed that a new law should only cover Al Qaeda, ISIS, and their affiliates. McCaul and his Republican colleagues argue that the new AUMF should also include the Taliban and Iran-backed militias in Iraq.

There are, of course, some developments that will be welcomed by war powers reformers. Lawmakers widely agree that any new authorization should have a “sunset” provision that would require Congress to reaffirm its support for U.S. operations abroad after a few years. (Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said the administration opposes this measure, which in her telling would allow terrorists to simply wait Washington out.) A new AUMF would also likely exclude the Taliban, providing a legal bookend to 22 years of American involvement in Afghanistan.

But this shift falls far short of ending America’s so-called “forever wars.” When Meeks asked witnesses what the war on terror may look like in 2045, no one could offer a concrete response. Perhaps more importantly, no official seemed ready to countenance the idea that hostilities would finally be over.

Indeed, witnesses and lawmakers gave little indication that the war on terror could ever truly end. They focused instead on a range of emerging “threats” to the United States, including the rise of terror groups in the Sahel, a sub-region of Africa stretching from Mauritania in the west to Sudan in the east.

One may hope that lawmakers would discuss whether U.S. military operations helped create the conditions for these new threats to emerge, as a range of experts and journalists have argued. But such a discussion was absent from the conversation, leaving little chance that these views will be taken into account when lawmakers hammer out the text of any new AUMF.

In a telling moment, Meeks recalled that memorable day in September 2001 when Congress passed the AUMF. The long-time lawmaker joined all but one of his colleagues in voting in favor of the resolution, hurriedly kicking off a new paradigm in which “war” and “peace” became relative terms.

“Though I carry the burden of that vote, not for one second do I regret it,” Meeks said. “We needed to send a message. We needed to take action and prevent future terrorist attacks by those who orchestrated 9/11, and we did.”

The world has undergone a number of major changes in the past two decades. But in Congress, it’s still 2001.





more US secret wars.....





ukraine whoppers...

Ukrainian Whoppers

Propaganda only works so long.

Ukraine’s Military Claims to Have Killed the Head of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet - New York Times

Ukraine’s military asserted on Monday that it had killed the commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in a missile attack last week, which, if confirmed, would make the strike among the most damaging for the Russian Navy since the sinking of the fleet’s flagship last year.

There was no immediate comment from Moscow’s Defense Ministry on the status of its fleet commander, Adm. Viktor Sokolov, who is one of the most senior figures in the Russian Navy. Ukraine’s claim could not be independently verified.

Ukraine’s special operations forces on Friday said they had struck a headquarters of the Russian fleet in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, a storied port that is now under regular bombardment from Ukraine’s long-range missiles and exploding drones. Fleet officers were holding a meeting there at the time, the Ukrainian military said.

Russian sources say that no one was in the very exposed building when the Ukrainian missiles hit. The real headquarter is underground in an unknown place.

Today there was an expanded Board meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow (machine translation):

Opening the meeting, the Defense Minister briefly highlighted the situation in the special military operation zone.

"Groups of Russian troops," he said, " continue active operations to defeat the enemy. Thanks to the professionalism and courage of the personnel of the 25th and 138th motorized rifle brigades in the Kupyansk direction, the control zone near the settlements of Sinkovka and Petropavlovsk was significantly expanded. As a result of effective fire damage, the armed forces of Ukraine are suffering serious losses along the entire line of contact.

During the current month, more than 17 thousand people, more than 2,700 weapons and military equipment were destroyed, including 7 American Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, 77 American M777 artillery systems, 51 self-propelled artillery installations from Germany, France, Poland and the United States of America, as well as two German Leopard tanks and one English tank "Challenger".

The commander of the Black Sea fleet, Adm. Viktor Sokolov, took part in the briefing via a live TV link.

Dmitri Alperovitch @DAlperovitch - 10:29 UTC · Sep 26, 2023

Russian MoD released a photo of a claimed meeting today between Shoigu and military commanders, with Black Sea Fleet Admiral Sokolov participating (bottom on the left) and not dead as has been alleged No way to verify the date of the photo though

And now video of Shoigu’s speech. I think this is now a pretty good proof of life that Sokolov didn’t die on the strike on Black Sea Fleet HQ
full video


Another whopper comes from the neoconservative Institute for the Study of War:

ISW @TheStudyofWar - 4:03 UTC · Sep 25, 2023

6/ Putin may have ordered the Russian military command to hold all Russia’s initial defensive positions to create the illusion that Ukrainian counteroffensives have not achieved any tactical or operational effects despite substantial Western support.

As one commentator remarked:

“Putin orders Russian army to win battle to create the illusion of having won battle”---

The White House has put out a letter with a list of demands Ukraine has to fulfill to receive further aid.

The "DELIBERATIVE // PRE-DECISIONAL WORKING DRAFT – SUBJECT TO REVIEW" five page letter includes the "Priority Reform List - Reforms Linked to Conditions on U.S. Assistance".

It demands a complete reform of major Ukrainian power structures and the insertion of designated foreign personnel. It sets 3, 6 and 12 month limits for certain reforms to be achieved.


Constitutional Court of Ukraine (CCU) Reform : Implement newly enacted law #3277-IX by standing up the Advisory Group of Experts with the meaningful participation of Venice Commision, EU, and U.S. nominated experts and supporting the vetting process of CCU judge candidates. *Passage of #3277 was one of seven requirements for Ukraine to begin EU accession process. 
Ministry of Defense (MOD) : o Without undermining readiness, re-design both military armament and public procurement processes and procedures reflecting NATO standards of transparency, accountability, efficiency, and competition in defense procurement. 
o Invest in Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) initiatives. 
Ministry of Strategic Industries / Ukraine Defense Industry (formerly UkrOboronProm) : Stand up UDI supervisory board that complies with OECD standards, including participation by foreign defense experts. Build stronger institutional connections (e.g., liaison or procurement offices) with MOD and General Staff planning, to ensure UDI’s work is aligned with the country’s most pressing needs. Ensure NATO standards of transparency, accountability, efficiency, and competition across the defense industrial sector. Institute transparency procedures (even taking into account wartime needs for secrecy) to allow later audit and avoid even the appearance of politicization or corruption in defense production.

I believe that the Ukrainian government currently has very different problems and priorities than those dreamed up in some offices in DC.

Posted by b on September 26, 2023 at 12:53 UTC | Permalink