Angus King: Congress needs to update war rules for military

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Peter Rogers of Yarmouth, member of William J. Rogers American Legion Post 153 in Auburn, talks in April 2017 with U.S. Sen. Angus King at the Post hall. King spoke to a group of veterans about his efforts – and those needed by veterans – to help the passage of a bill to overhaul the broken Veterans Administration appeals process. The Post was named after Rogers’ father. (Sun Journal file photo)

With American troops “in something like 170 countries around the world” in a sort of “low-level, slow-motion war” against extremists, it’s past time for Congress to step up to its constitutional responsibility to set the rules governing military action, U.S. Sen. Angus King said.

The Maine independent told MSNBC this week that he understands his colleagues’ reluctance to show some leadership on the issue, but they must.

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“We haven’t passed even a bare authorization” since the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, King said.

“I don’t think you can argue with a straight face that that authorization covers what we are doing now,” he said.

He said the recent deaths of four Green Berets in Niger, an African nation that few Americans know anything about, highlight the need for “a national conversation about this if we are going to be in a kind of perpetual state of low level warfare all over the world.”

“The people of this country should understand what that commitment is, and what the costs are going to be,” King said.

State Sen. Eric Brakey, an Auburn Republican who hopes to unseat King in next year’s election, said it’s great that King is finally questioning “our broken foreign policy now that it fits his political calculus.”

He pointed out, though, that during President Barack Obama’s administration, King “sat quiet and supported the status quo.”

“King’s hypocrisy is further proof that he is not the independent voice he claims to be, but rather a partisan Democrat and a member of the ‘Washington Machine,’” Brakey said.

In addition to calling for an updated use of force authorization, King also called on the administration to put more faith in diplomacy.

He said the sharp rhetoric used against North Korea hasn’t helped. King said that from the schoolyard to international relations, “calling your opponent names” isn’t the best approach.

King said President Donald Trump’s decision to back away from the international agreement with Iran that stopped its nuclear program was “a terrible geopolitical mistake.”

He said that North Korea is less likely to cut a deal with the United States to cease its nuclear weapons program when it sees the Iran deal on the rocks.

scollins@sunjournal.com

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