President Obama addressed many important issues in his speech Thursday (transcript here), some of which I’m writing about for Sunday’s column. The speech also included some remarkable political theater involving Obama and a protester in the audience. If anyone finds the clip and can link to it, you should check it out.
For now, I just want to pass on Obama’s direct response to the debate over the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that was the subject of the Senate Armed Services Committee discussion last week and my post the other day:
The AUMF is now nearly 12 years old. The Afghan war is coming to an end. Core al Qaeda is a shell of its former self. Groups like AQAP must be dealt with, but in the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States. Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant Presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states.
So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate. And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further. Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.