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Column: War in Perpetuity

FILE: Soldiers, Iraq War
NASIRIYAH, IRAQ – DECEMBER 17: Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division board a C-17 transport plane to depart from Iraq at Camp Adder, now known as Imam Ali Base, on December 17, 2011 near Nasiriyah, Iraq. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Authorization for Use of Military Force passed in the wake of the attacks on September 11th 2001 was a dramatic overreach when it was passed and completely indefensible today. It is a justification for a war without end and without borders; exactly the sort of thing the constitutional division of powers was designed to prevent.

Kudos to President Obama for contradicting the wishes of his own Defense Department and going on record as stating that perpetual war should not be an option. That said, we the people need a little less talk and a little more action from the President. We need change today, not at some undefined point in the future.

Not only do we need to repeal the AUMF, we need to close the illegitimate Guantanamo Bay POW camp. Beyond this, we need to take back the constitutional protections the American people lost when Congress passed the PATRIOT Act. And, if we ever want to marginalize extremists at a faster rate than we create new ones, we need to stop the unnecessary civilian deaths from drone assassinations, bombings and other military operations.

In short, what we need to do is start treating terrorism as what it is; a crime. Instead of pretending that a winnable war can be waged on the impulses of extremists, we need a competent, international security and law enforcement operation that prevents those extremists from getting the weapons and access that they need to achieve their goals.

This can be accomplished by streamlining our law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and making sure that they cooperate with each other, as well as their international counterparts. Of all the bad ideas that came out of the Bush administration, the worst was the claim that we needed shred the constitution, sell our souls, and become bad guys to protect ourselves from terrorism.

We never needed to tarnish what makes America great in order to protect it. We just needed to get smarter and make government work more effectively. It is unsurprising that we didn’t get that from the Bushies; it is antithetical to their worldview. However, it is a shame that it has taken Obama almost five years to even get the conversation started on reining in the excesses of the previous administration’s executive power grab.

After all, if we don’t act fast to restore our sanity, reenact our constitutional protections, and bring back our checks and balances, we might miss our chance. If we get another power drunk president we might end up with not only war, but also homeland tyranny, in perpetuity.

Previous Column: A Vote for Convenience

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Gossom and do not reflect Results Radio, Townsquare Media, its sponsors or subsidiaries.

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