A big part of the problem is that the authorization to use military force is too vague. It gives the president the power to attack “nations, organizations or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”
Making the law more specific, however, would only further enshrine the notion of a war without end. And, as Jeh Johnson, then counsel to the defense secretary, said in a speech last November, “War must be regarded as a finite, extraordinary and unnatural state of affairs.”
The right solution is for Congress to repeal the 2001 authorization. It could wait to do that until American soldiers have left Afghanistan, which is scheduled, too slowly, for the end of 2014. Better yet, Congress could repeal it now, effective upon withdrawal.