The longer you play fast and loose with the law, the more you delude yourself into believing that what you’re doing is OK.
The fast-moving events in Syria and Turkey have made for head-spinning headlines and sometimes personal anguish for many U.S. soldiers who have fought in that region. The outpouring of emotion at the plight of the Syrian Democratic Forces’ People Protection Units (YPG), a primarily Kurdish militia, has ignited nationwide debate as to the U.S. governments’ loyalty to allies. Soldiers – indeed, officers, have openly questioned the motives of the commander in chief (CINC) and disparaged his order to withdraw up to 1,000 troops from areas of direct conflict in northeastern Syria.
Here we find ourselves in 2019, partnered with the YPG, itself affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been declared a terrorist organization by the U.S., European Union and Turkey. Chasing al-Qaida through Iraq, which begat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or al-Sham or Syria (ISIS), we found ourselves on the other side of the Iraq-Syria border, teamed up with YPG Kurds who wanted to kill ISIS as much as we did. They were willing partners in the fight against a common enemy, but they had geopolitical baggage. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right? Not so fast.
Let’s review how we got here. There has only been one authorization for the use of military force (AUMF), since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and we’ve been deploying forces under its auspices ever since. It’s just 60 words long, so we should take a moment to review it again — for many of you, perhaps for the first time:
[T]he President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
Everybody got that? If you planned, authorized, or committed the 9/11 attacks, or aided or harbored those that did, you’re in the U.S. crosshairs. Bin Laden’s al-Qaida in Afghanistan? Yup. Al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI)? It was a stretch, but the CINC said yes, so onward! ISIL? The next CINC said they were the offspring of AQI, so again, here we go! ISIS? Again, son-of-a-son, so Charlie Mike!
Does it matter that not likely a living soul in the current ISIS planned, authorized, or committed the 9/11 attacks, nor aided or harbored 9/11 perpetrators? Apparently, not a wit. Does it matter that the last administration recognized the 2001 AUMF had outlived its shelf-life and offered a new one, including ISIS language, to Congress? Nope; rejected. Does it matter that a bipartisan group of senators subsequently authored a similar AUMF, to accomplish the same thing? Nope; never left the starting blocks.
We’ve been playing fast and loose with the law ever since 2003, when we connected AQI with the 9/11 perpetrators and now, the chickens have come home to roost and we don’t like it. READ MORE