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It's Time to Repeal the President's License for Endless War

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/09/15/its-time-repeal-presidents-license-endless-war


As long as a majority of Congresscritters are owned by the military industrial media infotainment complex (MIMIC) that evolved from the military industrial complex during the Raygun regime, endless war will continue to assure endless taxpayer funded revenue for MIMIC.


Thank you Barbara for being a lone voice of sanity on this topic for so long. Having an example to point to in Congress to show it is possible to have a principled stance and stay elected is invaluable.

You wrote:

Let’s make sure the public can be a part of this reckoning.

To me this means having a public referendum on every war every year. I will vote no on every damn one of them. I wish more politicians would talk about direct democracy as does @natureboy often. Steyer was the only candidate I recall bringing up the idea of a national referendum on anything.


Public referendum? We can wish but reality is radically different. Do you think this is a democracy or something even vaguely similar?

I agree 100% but fear this is out of control at this point.


I don’t watch TV. Does war even make the “news” anymore? The distraction machine has been honed to prevent it, I bet.


Unfortunately, Lee does not represent current trends in the Democratic Party. The House may have been wiling to repeal the AUMFs while a ® was in the White House, but at the same time it approved military budget increases and a space force. And most of the recent leftward pushes on policy have focused on climate and domestic issues while generally ignoring the hundreds of billions the US spends on war-making and empire.

Meanwhile, Democratic leaders are courting GWB-era national security Republicans. Biden, who can’t figure out how to pay for health care, is suggesting he will increase the military budget. Lee and those who want peace should consider that whether or not the US actually uses force doesn’t change the fact that militarism and obscene levels of military spending warps and limits our capacity as a country to accomplish anything that benefits regular human beings and other living creatures.

" This week, Biden struck an altogether different tone in a telephone interview with the military newspaper Stars and Stripes . “I don’t think [budget cuts] are inevitable, but we need priorities in the budget,” he told the paper, adding that the Department of Defense needs to innovate and improve its capacities vis-à-vis cyber warfare capabilities and the use of unmanned aircraft. “We have to focus more on unmanned capacity, cyber and IT, in a very modern world that is changing rapidly,” Biden said, concluding: “I’ve met with a number of my advisors and some have suggested in certain areas the budget is going to have to be increased.”


"Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has evinced an openness to being “pushed left” on his social and economic plan, but on external affairs, he still mainly operates within the standard Washington foreign policy playbook.

If anything, on foreign policy, the Democrats have moved rightward in recent years, having fallen not only under the spell of “Russiagate” but also increasingly under the influence of neocons and other former Bush officials who have pushed that discredited narrative for their own ends."



Trying to repeal the President’s License for War is a waste of time. Rather, pass a law that whenever there is a War, kin of Congress must enlist and fight first.

That’ll revoke the license real quick.


Rep. Lee has it right but is vastly outnumbered on Capitol Hill. The neocons such as William Kristol, Max Boot and the Kagans have come back home to the Dem Party to team up with the liberal interventionists.

Many informed people say medical martial law or a global biosecurity state is our future and wars are on the way out. Maybe standing up for our freedoms now is crucial?


Rep. Lee, thanks for pushing on this issue and please, continue to do so. As others have pointed out, sadly, there has been effective bipartisan support for hyper-militarism, including not only the AUMF legislation, but also the insane (truly, “not healthy”) ‘defense’ spending that is setting us to debtor-nation status, draining all capacity to fund public priorities.

Trump is rightfully impugned for pushing the militarization of Space, and adding fuel to nuclear tensions, but it was his Democratic predecessor who helped set that stage, and that, and military adventurism around the globe has tacit approval of most of your Democratic Party colleagues.

One reason for this, as you must know, Rep. Lee, is the unconstrained lobbying and donations that your colleagues receive from the profiteers. The other is that most Americans remain blissfully unaware and certainly, unconcerned about this state of perpetual war. The media dutifully parrot every claim alleging the “terrorist” threat, and whip up anti-Russian fervor (as well as anti-Iran, anti-Korea, anti-China, anti-Venezuela, anti-…) at every opportunity to keep the public complacent.

Has there ever been, in any main stream press outlet,an accounting of how much of public taxes have gone to, for example, pay for regime-change wars, undermining messy democracy elsewhere, prop up dictators, destabilize other nations, keep Russia fearful, and otherwise control markets for the corporations? How often do we even get even mention much less any report from them on how much the U.S. has spent on Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Syria, on fomenting and supporting the Ukrainian putsch that was clearly targeted against Russia, etc.?

As Ray wrote,

(Though some might include this in “miltiary-industrial”, maybe we should include a specific letter for the “Intel” or “Spy” agencies which are an obviously central part of what’s often referred to as the “Deep State” apparatus- those in seats of unelected power who pull strings behind the scenes. Yeah, I know, some shudder at the phrase, evoking as it does images of unsupportable “conspiracy theory” akin to alien takeover paranoia, but surely no one can dispute that the CIA, NSA & other letter agencies now do far more than just provide objective intelligence to elected leaders. Absolutely no one can reasonably deny their active role in elections here as elsewhere, or their role in driving support for war.)

Perhaps we won’t any time soon get to @dara’s fine suggestion of forcing a public referendum before any war, but it’s long past overdue for at a minimum, Congress to reassert its Constitutional authority in this regard.

So again, thanks Ms. Lee, for doing what I hope more of your colleagues will begin doing- drawing public attention to this fundamentally important question for our nation and for any of our aspirations towards a functioning democracy.


War what is it good for ?

1 Death and destruction by misappropriation of lives and money which need to be used to heal instead of destroy.
2 Greatest cause of pollution of our planet along with the destruction of civil society responsible for mass migration.

I agree with all of the post here but IF democracy, which is only a whisper in this country, were to ever become a force it does as they say, it begin from the bottom up. Shouldn’t the ordinary people help Barbara Lee in using what little voice they have?

The broad picture of destruction responsible for mass migration, climate change due to the chemical and other weapons needs to be part of Sunshine Campaign and all the other groups pushing for change. The message of all groups needs to highlight the global destructive force of war.


The first part is quite right. The neocons are for the most part jumping the aisle to bond with the Democratic establishment. The ease with which they do that, and their obvious comfort in doing it, should alarm self-professed “liberals”, but the truth is most of the latter are only “liberal” when it comes to social identitarian issues, like the ones that Phil Ochs sang about in “Love Me, I’m a Liberal”. To some extent, though, understanding how little of the truth they see about what is actually done abroad with their taxes, they might be forgiven.

As for “medical martial law”, sorry, I read this as more of the “scam-demic” or “Plan-demic” liine of ‘thought’ (and i use that word generously) that suggests that a carefully scripted conspiracy, requiring the active and willing collaboration of hundreds of thousands of epidemiologists, doctors, nurses and other health professionals, the national and state governments of much of the globe, staging / faking hospitalizations and deaths or just taking the “fake” victims from their families and killing them. Killing, in the process, significant parts of their economies and those unfortunate businesses that happen to be most effected, and simultaneously cutting up to a quarter of the governments’ revenue streams. And lining up all those ducks (herding all those cats), to do it, all for the benefit of a few big-Pharma profiteers who hatched the plan, and, and, and …to make people wear masks. (i.e. Just to show who’s boss! ) !!

No, it is corporate interests and quests for profit that drive war… their interests being in control over sources or markets for fossil-fuels or other minerals, land for burger production, palm oil, fisheries, the routes of pipelines or other commerce, consumer markets, and of course, military/space/surveillance equipment and other supplies of war, etc. This is NOT going to be replaced by some “global biosecurity state” such as some “informed people” may suggest.

We have enough real challenges and existential threats… let’s not get distracted by unsupportable theories about imagined ones.

Now I know why your moniker is Wise Owl!


“Yet the past four years have also seen a growing recognition in Congress that—in order to rein in our excessive and reckless war-making—we must repeal these laws and reclaim the legislative branch’s sole constitutional authority to declare war.”

Repeal what laws? Just follow the Constitution! I would argue that Congress committed Constitutional treason when they abdicated their Constitutional authority to declare wars in 1950 when the Korean war was called euphemistically… ".A POLICE ACTION ".



Ideally yes. It is often claimed that most voters in the US don’t care about war beyond the issue of US troop fatalities. I don’t know how many of us are actually concerned with the people we murder, but the more of us that speak up, the better. Any language that works should be tried: the morality of it all, the practicality (i.e. our wars aren’t improving our national security), and the argument that we shouldn’t be sending our people into slaughter without it being an actual defense issue or an action approved by the UN (preferably and improved, more legitimate UN) and in the later case, I’d like to say an opt out for any service member who disagrees on going to war if it isn’t for our actual defense.

These days (both because I’m older with family constraints and because of Covid), I’m more inclined to online activism as opposed to going to a physical place and protesting. Are there any online avenues you suggest? My other main issue is M4A and I feel like I’m hooked in to the right resources (~https://medicare4all.org/, ~pnhp.org). I’ve appreciated what I’ve read from Medea Benjamin, but I have not joined CodePink (I probably should as @SkepticTank has recommended everyone does).

I searched for Sunshine Campaign and there are some hits (mostly from England), but I’m assuming you meant the Sunrise Movement.


Has there ever been a better case for a third party – a progressive party absolutely committed to voting NO on huge military budgets, AUMFs, wasteful weapons programs, and extrajudicial dronings?

Barbara Lee, you will never achieve your aims within the Democratic Party. These are the Blue Dogs who flipped seats in the 2018 midterms (Spoiler alert: they ain’t peaceniks):




Thank you for your response. Yes I do mean the Sunrise Movement and also encourage support of any other movement even Greta’s School Strike for Climate, that has the focus of changing this destructive system of capitalistic governance that most of us live under. Becoming a supporting member of the brave group CODE PINK is a must in my book.

In addition, I am in complete sympathy with the issues of aging and lack of medical access as I am 75plus and have limited health insurance although I spent my working years as a nurse. I am not able to physically engage in demonstrations but I do write supportive letters with some donations and use any opportunity to inform others on practical health issues and current political issues that effect all of us.
Often it seems as if our fight is futile but as has been said by many including Mr. C Hedges, I do not fight to only to WIN, I fight because I must. Any and all letters to congress and organizations should be sent by as many as possible.


The photograph with this article is worth a look.


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Thank you Barbara Lee for decades of anti-endless war leadership. Your tenacity in the face massive Party opposition is something to truly admirer. You’d have been a great candidate as Bernie’s running mate.


Barbara Lee would have been a great running mate for Biden as well as for Bernie. I might even have considered voting for Biden if she had been selected. It doesn’t matter anyway, though, since I’m in a blue state.

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absolutely–the sooner the better