U.S. soldiers returning home from Iraq in December 2011 at the end of the war.
U.S. soldiers returning home from Iraq in December 2011 at the end of the war. // Department of Defense photo by Dallas Nagata White

The U.S. Is Still Officially At War in Iraq

The United States is still at war in Iraq – on paper, at least.

Two years after U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq, the authorization for the use of military force that was passed by Congress in late 2002 is still in effect. A group of bipartisan senators introduced a bill that would repeal that law, officially ending the war in Iraq.

The Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq was not a declaration of war. If it’s repealed, Congress will have to approve any new military action in Iraq.

“This bipartisan piece of legislation expressly preserves the president’s authority to protect our embassy and personnel in Iraq, and ensures that our military involvement in Iraq is officially closed and that any future engagement will require congressional authorization and support, as required by the Constitution,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said in a statement.

(Read more Defense One coverage on Iraq here)

The legislation has the support of the White House. “The administration supports the repeal of the Iraq AUMF since it is no longer used for any U.S. Government activities,” White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told Foreign Policy.

The bill is sponsored by Paul and Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). It’s co-sponsored by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jon Tester (D- Mont.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

The text of the bill is here.