Ending the forever war

How did the U.S. end up in a state of forever war?

Both the legal and cultural bases for the forever war come out of the terrible events of September 11, 2001.

In response to the terrorist attack that day, U.S. politicians began immediately exploiting the attack to further a war agenda all over the world.

Congress passed an Authorization to Use Force that is probably the broadest law in American history with respect to the war powers: giving the President complete, limitless authority to wage war in any country so long as there was a link (in the President’s view) to 9/11.

Eighteen years after 9/11, U.S. culture and law still support the idea of a neverending, perpetual, forever war.

Those of us who wish to build a peaceful world have to be brave enough to challenge the narrative that any discussion of 9/11, in sustaining a forever war, is off limits.

That’s not right.

9/11 can’t be used as an excuse for a perpetual, neverending war against the entire world.

9/11 can’t be used as an excuse to torture.

9/11 can’t be used as an excuse to keep people locked up forever, without trial, on the island prison of Guantanamo or any where else.

It is totally fair and legitimate to ask when and how 9/11 became the linchpin for a doctrine of neverending war.

In fact, I believe that the 9/11 Authorization to Use Force is unconstitutional. And I believe it should now expire. Future military authorizations should be directly voted on by Congress, signed into law by the President, and have automatic expiration clauses to prevent them from being used to support actions elsewhere.

For us to preserve our civilization, we have to be willing to engage with our adversaries using dialogue, and not weapons. We have to be willing to risk that our position might actually be wrong. That takes a lot of courage.

But at this moment in history, we need courage more than ever. We need the courage to build peace.