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ICFRC: The Authorization for Use of Military Force and U.S. Forever Wars

Listen to an audio podcast of this program.

Following the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), permitting the president to use force against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks and those who harbored them. Since then, four presidents have utilized this AUMF to justify using force against an array of groups -- many of whom did not exist on 9/11 -- in over half a dozen countries around the world. These post-9/11 wars have resulted in over 929,000 people killed, including over 387,000 civilians, and have cost over $8.9 trillion. While President Biden declared to the United Nations in September 2021 that "the United States is not at war," the Biden administration continues to rely on the outdated 2001 AUMF to conduct lethal strikes and other operations that continue our forever wars. This presentation discusses the 2001 AUMF, its origins, and how it has been stretched by successive administrations, as well as efforts being made to repeal it and bring an end to U.S. forever wars.

Heather Brandon-Smith is Legislative Director for Militarism and Human Rights at the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) in Washington, DC. She leads FCNL's work to repeal outdated war authorization, promote respect for human rights and international law, and reduce U.S. armed interventions around the world. Prior to joining FCNL, she served as the Advocacy Counsel for National Security at Human Rights First, where she worked to advance U.S. national security policies that are consistent with human rights and the rule of law. Ms. Brandon-Smith is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center. Her writing has appeared in The Hill, Lawfare, Just Security, and Intercross (the blog of the International Committee of the Red Cross). She holds an LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. in Politics and International Relations, an LL.B., and an LL.M. from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

For more information on the Foreign Relations Council visit their website at www.icfrc.org.

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