Of all the weapons the United States carries in its military arsenal, its most powerful might be the 2001 congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force. The post-9/11 blank check to fight evildoers covers everything: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iraq-Syria, Syria, the other thing we’re doing in Syria now, and a bunch of stuff in between. Invocations of the AUMF have gotten so out of hand, according to some critics, that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding a hearing today to determine if Congress should start slapping down the executive’s reliance on it.

Having trouble keeping track of everything the 2001 AUMF justifies? We’ve ranked all the conflicts in one easy post, with additional background for the instances that may be less familiar to you.

Behold, conflicts justified under the 2001 AUMF, ranked:

1. Combat action against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan

2. Conducting secure detention operations in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

3. Military operations in Iraq under the Multinational Force in Iraq

4. Offensive operations to deny the enemy territory on Alderaan

Rebel fighters rallied behind a tribal princess with proven connections to the outlawed Jedi paramilitary force and their royal financiers on Alderaan. Our justifiable preemptive strike led the rebels to execute their desperation attack and surprise victory in the Battle of Yavin. The Empire reserved the right under the original AUMF to broaden its strikes wherever the terrorists may seek refuge, and has done so with annexations of Hoth and the Cloud City systems, known rebellion strongholds.

The application of the 2001 AUMF to intergalactic rebels was controversial, since the rebellion occurred a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. But Imperial lawyers argue that the use of space-time disruptions for hyperspace travel has rendered moot the concept of absolute time with respect to legal authorizations of force.

5. Tie:

  • Foreign military training, advising, assisting in the Philippines
  • Foreign military training and equipping in Georgia
  • Foreign military training and equipping in Yemen

6. Operations to capture or kill NEXUS-6 N6MAA10816, aka ‘Roy Batty’

Politically sensitive operations to kill rogue replicants living among us have long been a national security priority for the United States government. N6MAA10816 was identified as a terrorist cell leader with sensitive knowledge of allied military vulnerabilities, particularly tactical capabilities of attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion and the patterns of C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.

AUMF permitted NORTHCOM to move quickly on this threat. Mission accomplished.

7. Deployment to Djibouti for activities against Al Qaeda and other terrorists in Horn of Africa

8. War of the Elves and Sauron

American military leadership made it clear that when One Ring emerged to rule them all, it could not fall into the hands of any state actor aligned with terror. Consequently, we partnered with an existing indigenous ground force of elves and other allied groups to oppose the dark army of Sauron.

After securing Gondor, the forces of men left behind a protectorate to guarantee self-rule in Middle Earth.

9. The Pushcart War

A homegrown cell of terrorists targeting commercial traffic in New York City was a worst-case scenario for the U.S. security establishment. Thanks to the AUMF and a timely suspension of posse comitatus, secure-and-hold operations proved highly successful in stopping the pea-shooter attacks on our brave convoy drivers.

10. Maritime interception operations on the high seas in the areas of responsibility of all of the geographic combatant commanders

11. Deployments to enhance counterterrorism capabilities of “friends and allies”

12. Battle of Hogwarts

The U.S. Department of Defense neither confirms nor denies the existence of wizardry. A classified annex to this report provides further information.

13. Bellum omnium contra omnes

Latin for “the war of all against all,” this is natural the state of human existence, absent a Leviathan to exercise violence against civilization’s discontents, according to Early Modern English political theorist Thomas Hobbes.

The AUMF establishes the legitimate use of U.S. force against these anti-coalition extremists wherever they may hide, ensuring that their lives are nasty, brutish, and short.

14. Tie:

  • Direct military action in Somalia against al Qaeda/al Shabab
  • Deployment of combat aircraft and personnel to Turkey for anti-ISIL strikes

15. The Butter Battle

Tensions ran hot. Talks went to pot. When the Yooks and the Zooks built WMDs, tolerate it we could not.

16. Systematic campaign of airstrikes and other necessary actions against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS) in Iraq and Syria

17. Ongoing operations to contain Eastasian expansion

We have always been at war with Eastasia. The AUMF merely codifies that.

18. Ongoing operations to contain Eurasian expansion

We have always been at war with Eurasia. The AUMF merely codifies that.

19 – 37. [Name withheld]

A classified annex to this report provides further information.


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