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Our failed war on terror

As a mother and grandmother, I am concerned about the current direction our use of power in securing my family's safety is taking us, and the world at large. My concern is that the tactics and violence that have been used in the past 13 years are failing, and in fact may be increasing the reactionary response to all U.S. citizens. It is time to very carefully and thoughtfully reassess our approach to terrorist threats as a nation. The current unending and geographically undefined war is draining our country's resources, both in terms of finances and lives. But the fact that we are doing this without success, in fact with clearly escalating problems, is unconscionable.

I understand that there will be a robust debate on the president's request for a new authorization for military force. I hope we can agree that the virtually unlimited authorization given by Congress in 2001 gives away important congressional oversight of where, when and how our country goes to war. Unless this authorization is repealed, any restrictions on a new authorization will have no practical effect.

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I applaud Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, as well as well as Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, for submitting the bill that would sunset the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that was passed by Congress in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

In this bill Senators Cardin and Murphy, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, set out a three-year timeline that would allow Congress and the next president to review what is being accomplished, have appropriate consultations and decide on a forward course of action. This legislation is similar to a Cardin amendment included in the ISIL force authorization resolution approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in December 2014.

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President Barack Obama's request for a new war authorization is meant to define the war against the Islamic State that has already been underway for six months. The president's proposal extends authority for war for three years and has no geographic limits.

Another broad authorization for war without geographical boundaries, which leaves the door open for waging war against nearly anyone, is a bad idea. The last 13 years of war, waged under the virtually limitless 2001 AUMF, has shown that we cannot defeat terrorism by bombing. In fact, our military action has only fueled violent extremism by killing innocents and increasing destabilization, poverty and disenfranchisement.

Even members of Congress who support military force against the Islamic State can agree that keeping the 2001 AUMF — the law behind the "war on terror" — on the books sets a dangerous precedent. Unless this 2001 law is repealed, the president can continue using it to override any restrictions Congress places on a new authorization. The president started this war on the Islamic State based on the old 2001 AUMF, without consulting Congress.

The endless war, now in its 14th year, has failed — and at the cost of too many lives and too much money.

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I urge Congress not to pile one war on top of another, and ask Maryland Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, along with Rep. Elijah Cummings, to oppose the president's proposal and repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

In short, the violent extremism of the Islamic State is showing us that we are not making progress in this war on terror. In the face of obvious escalation in the use of terror, it is imperative that we reassess our tactics. I am concerned that continuing military air strikes, or even the use of ground troops, will not end this growing global problem. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, I implore us, the United States people, to ask our elected officials to ensure that we set an example and lead with political, economic and diplomatic policies that cut off weapons, funding and support for the Islamic State. Answering violence with violence cannot lead to peace.

Dr. Eve Bruce is a Maryland physician. Her email is nunqui@gmail.com.

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