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The content below comes from the newsletter This Week in War Powers News, provided by the Committee for Responsible Foreign Policy.


Biden, Austin Vow to Safeguard Civilian Control

“President-elect Joe Biden addressed concerns Wednesday about nominating a recently retired four-star general to lead the Department of Defense, affirming his commitment to civilian control of the nation’s military,” POLITICO’s Nick Niedzwiadek reports.

In introducing Austin at an appearance in Delaware, Biden recalled his reliance on the then-commander in Iraq when he was vice president. He cited “one particularly memorable incident when we were at a meeting at the Ambassador’s residence in the Green Zone and insurgents launched a rocket at the house.”

Biden also extolled Austin’s leadership skills and the historic nature of choosing the first Black secretary of defense, if he’s confirmed. “And at every step, he challenged the institution that he loves to grow more inclusive and more diverse.” READ MORE


War Powers: What Are They Good For?

In March, in a joint resolution, Congress directed the president to terminate military hostilities against Iran unless authorized by Congress. The vote represented a relatively rare example of congressional efforts to reassert authority over the use of American force. Predictably, however, President Donald Trump vetoed the measure, and Congress lacked the votes to override. During recent decades, such has often been the end result of legislative efforts to limit presidential war making. READ MORE


Trump Orders All American Troops Out of Somalia

President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to “end forever wars,” a proposal that’s politically palatable to a majority of Americans after roughly 20 years of continuous foreign conflict. But human rights groups are concerned about the lack of specifics behind Biden’s vague promise and his relative silence on issues such as drone and air strikes.

“My primary concern is that while he, like other candidates, suggested he wanted to wind down the ‘endless wars’ … most of the discussion has been about withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan, Somalia, and elsewhere,” Daphne Eviatar, Amnesty International USA’s director of Security With Human Rights, told Insider.

“But withdrawing troops in itself does not end those wars, or US involvement in them, if the US continues to conduct air strikes, whether by drones or by piloted aircraft,” Eviatar added. “It’s not at all clear from Biden’s statements … whether the new administration plans to end or reduce air strikes, or to make more of an effort to protect civilians from being killed or injured by them, if they continue.” READ MORE