End of Forever War Watch, Election Day Edition

By Jack Goldsmith
Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 8:49 AM

The wise Walter Pincus had a good piece yesterday in the WP that makes two points: (1) the United States’ fight “against the so-called Islamic State has just begun and will last for years,” and (2) “Iraqi boots on the ground are the only ones that can defeat the Islamic State in Iraq. But that also requires a political settlement among Shiite, Sunni, Kurd and other ethnic and religious groups….”  I agree with both points, but the evidence that Pincus adduces in support of the first is important.  He not only culls recent DOD and White House statements in the last few weeks to the effect that the war will be (in the words of Secretary Hagel) a “long-term effort.”  He also looks at some of the procurement evidence that suggests that the “Defense Department is certainly preparing for a long fight.”  For example, “on Oct. 24 the Air Combat Command of the U.S. Air Force issued a notice to potential contractors that it plans a follow-on contract that could run for eight years, starting in October 2016, to operate, maintain and support Air Force Central Command’s major war reserve materiel facilities in Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates” (my emphasis).  Don’t plan on the war now being justified primarily under the 2001 AUMF to end any time soon.