Diplomacy Could Have Prevented the Bloodshed in Northeastern Syria

Diplomacy Could Have Prevented the Bloodshed in Northeastern Syria is the title of a statement by Diane Randall, Executive Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL).

As a Quaker organization committed to ending all wars, the Friends Committee on National Legislation calls on Turkey to immediately end its assault on northeastern Syria and urges the U.S. government to pursue a diplomatic solution to this quickly-deteriorating situation.

The U.S. military presence in Syria was never authorized by Congress and must come to an end. But the sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops without consulting our allies or our nation’s own military and diplomatic experts – without plans to protect the thousands of civilians and refugees living there, enable the delivery of humanitarian aid, or guard captured ISIS fighters – can only mean a humanitarian and security disaster.

The dire results of this unilateral move by President Trump underscore the importance of securing congressional authorization before engaging U.S. troops in overseas conflicts.

We call on Congress to exercise its responsibilities under the Constitution to debate and vote before allowing the U.S. to be drawn into armed conflict.

Diplomacy Could Have Prevented the Bloodshed in Northeastern Syria, Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Oct 10, 2019

You can download FCNL’s full statement on the Turkish Invasion of Syria here: https://www.fcnl.org/documents/1096

As people of faith, we are committed to peace–and our commitment tells us it’s time to end endless war.

Since 9/11, three different administrations have used the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to bypass the constitutional power of Congress to wage war across the world. To bring about the peaceful world we seek, we must repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs.

With Friends’ help, we had two critical successes this year. We must ensure these provisions remain in the final bills:

(1) The House approved an amendment in the annual defense spending bill to repeal the 2001 AUMF, which has been used to justify 41 military operations in 19 countries.

(2) The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes a provision to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF.

Bobby Trice, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

For years the Authorization for the use of military force has been a concern of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) Quakers. In 2014 the following letter was approved, to be sent to our Congressional delegations.

As members of the Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends (Conservative), we continue to oppose the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).

There are grave constitutional concerns about the AUMF, as it erodes the separation of powers and prevents adequate, effective checks and balances between the branches of U. S. government. The brief 60 words of the AUMF do not contain geographical or temporal limits, dangerously leaving open the door for this and future presidents to claim the authority to wage war against anyone at any time.

The Congressional Research Service report last year revealed that Presidents Bush and Obama publicly invoked the AUMF over 30 times, to justify military action in Djibouti, Georgia, Ethiopia, Yemen, and elsewhere.

It also poses significant threats to human rights, civil liberties, and the fulfillment of moral obligations. It has been used as part of the legal justification for indefinite detentions, acts of torture, mass surveillance, and an expansive drone war that has killed thousands of people far from any battlefield. These policies harden extremist sentiments, diminish the rule of law, and weaken American security and integrity.

The President has at his disposal adequate means to counter violent extremism, and if he believes at any time he lacks necessary authority, he can petition Congress, which can debate and decide that question. This is infinitely preferable to living in a permanent state of war.

In the Light of God’s Love,
Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) Religious Society of Friends, 2014

At the annual sessions of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) this summer, the following was approved as part of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee Report:

Quakers abhor all war. Congress needs to reclaim from the Executive branch its power to declare war. Representative Barbara Lee successfully offered and passed an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act that would repeal the 2001 AUMF (Authorization to Use Military Force). Designed to take effect after eight months, the Congress would need to pass a new AUMF or the Administration would need to remove American military personnel from current wars and conflicts during that timeframe. We thank the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and their Advocacy Teams for their work on this issue. We recognize that Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) exists in the United States’ wider secular world, where transformation into a peaceful, harmonious society without violence is unlikely to occur in the near future. We acknowledge the ongoing creative tension between working to end the occasion of all war and working to reduce harm through meaningful, achievable goals.

Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) 2019

Following is a template from FCNL you can use to send a letter to your Congressional Representatives and Senators.

I am pleased that the House of Representatives approved provisions to repeal the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs). As a person of faith, I implore you to ensure that these provisions remain in the final defense spending bill and the NDAA.

The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war and to conduct oversight of wars. Yet the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) has been used by three presidents as a blank check for endless war without congressional approval. The 2001 AUMF has enabled 41 military operations in 19 countries, which is far beyond the scope of the original intent of the authorization. The 2002 Iraq AUMF is no longer relevant yet holds the potential to be abused as another statutory justification for endless U.S. wars.

(add your story here to make the letter more impactful)

As a long-standing member of your community, I believe we need Congress to reassert its constitutional authority over war and peace. Repealing the 2001 and 2002 AUM.Fs is a first step in that direction.

Sincerely,

Name
Physical Address
Phone
Email

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