Andrew Korybko |
US Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis is arguing that there shouldn’t be any geographic limitations imposed on the President’s power to authorize military force abroad.
it’s once again back in the news after Daesh ambushed and killed 4 US special forces troops in Niger, a country that most Americans had no idea that their military was deployed to.
The original 2001 “Authorization for Use of Military Force” (AUMF) was passed shortly after 9/11 and was intended to have been applied towards Afghanistan, but has since been used against over a dozen different countries multiple times in the past 16 years. It’s for this reason why some in Congress have argued that it’s time to impose geographic limits on the scope of what this authorization allows the President to do since it de-facto enables the Commander-in-Chief to wage war without receiving the legislative branch’s constitutional approval.
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This workaround has been niftily exploited as the US’ “Global War on Terror” saw it engage in “mission creep” all across the world, and while having been a contentious topic for some time, it’s once again back in the news after Daesh ambushed and killed 4 US special forces troops in Niger, a country that most Americans had no idea that their military was deployed to.
From the perspective of the American people and the presumed system of “democracy” that the US supposedly practices, it’s only right for there to be a strict system of checks and balances over what the Executive Branch can do without the direct or indirect consent of the citizenry, but from the strategic angle of preserving American hegemony and expanding its power abroad, then imposing limitations on the President’s use of military force is counterproductive and harmful to the US’ global standing.
That’s not to argue that Mattis is morally correct in making the case that Trump or any of his successors should be able to deploy the military wherever the Pentagon says is needed at any given time, but just that there’s indeed a certain “logic” behind it that most people might not be immediately aware of.
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At this point in time, it’s almost impossible to reverse the existing state of affairs anyhow, since the US military is active in one capacity or another in over 100 different countries, some of which are seeing American troops deployed in harm’s way just like they were in Niger.
Furthermore, given the transnational nature of the “Global War on Terror”, the US might expectedly have to geographically broaden its military mandate in order to accomplish its objectives, but if certain limitations are imposed on this, then not only would it lose both its versatility and the initiative, but it could find such missions – regardless if they’re truly in the American national interest or not – held hostage to partisan games in Congress.
More than likely, however, Mattis will succeed in making sure that no geographic limitations are imposed on the President’s “Authorization for Use of Military Force”
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The middle ground “solution” would be to authorize a broad military mandate over the vaguely unspecified “Greater Middle East”, but even that could be interpreted by Trump’s opponents to constrain the US of military force abroad.
More than likely, however, Mattis will succeed in making sure that no geographic limitations are imposed on the President’s “Authorization for Use of Military Force”, but this episode nevertheless should remind everyone about the US’ global military footprint and the “mission creep” imperatives that have seen the Pentagon establish a worldwide presence in order to maintain the American-led international order.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.
Andrew Korybko is a political analyst, journalist and a regular contributor to several online journals, as well as a member of the expert council for the Institute of Strategic Studies and Predictions at the People’s Friendship University of Russia. He specializes in Russian affairs and geopolitics, specifically the US strategy in Eurasia.The views expressed in this article are author’s own. It does not reflect Global Village Space Editorial policy.