When countries who are party to a conflict receive U.S. arms, and the U.S. willingly approves those sales, it also tacitly approves the role of that country in conflict, even countries that violate human rights and bring about large numbers of civilian casualties.
Ending forever wars will mean more than simply revising AUMFs. It will take a thorough rethinking of how and when the United States uses force and what role Congress and the American public should play in those decisions.
If there’s one thing we can learn from the Trump administration’s final-year arms sales extravaganza, it’s that we can’t expect administrations to abide by norms that aren’t set into law. We need stronger regulatory frameworks, particularly on transparency. This is critical to ensuring the international community can continue to monitor foreign arms sales, that arms sales aren’t at odds with diplomatic priorities, and that the United States gets closer to a more responsible arms sales policy.