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Maxwell-in-Washington Graduate Student Mario Marquez Joins in Call to Repeal War Authority in Iraq

March 31, 2023

The Iraq War veteran is director of national security for The American Legion and is pursing an executive master’s in international relations degree.

A graduate student in the Maxwell School’s Washington, D.C., programs joined two U.S. senators for a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol recently in support of their efforts to promote the repeal of decades-old authorizations for use of military force for the Iraq and Persian Gulf wars.

Mario Marquez
Maxwell graduate student Mario A. Marquez, director of the National Security Division for The American Legion, spoke at a press conference earlier this month urging lawmakers to repeal the legislation that authorized military force in the decades-old war in Iraq.

Mario A. Marquez, director of the National Security Division for The American Legion, gave remarks at the March 16 press conference, along with its hosts, senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.). Marquez is pursuing an executive master’s in international relations degree, offered by the Maxwell School in Washington in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the beginning of combat operations in Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein,” Marquez told the crowd and cameras before a backdrop of the Capitol building. “The conflict was declared over in 2011, but the law that authorized it is still on the books today.”

If signed into law, a bill supported by Kaine and Young would repeal the 1991 Gulf War authorization and the 2002 Iraq War authorization. The senators are part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers who argue that the repeal is needed to prevent abuse by presidential administrations that could use the old authorizations to launch unrelated combat operations without approval from Congress.

On Wednesday, March 29, the senate voted 66-30 to repeal the authorizations. The legislation now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote. Speaker Kevin McCarthy has conveyed support for it.  The White House has also expressed support, issuing a statement endorsing the repeal and noting that it would not affect the 2,500 U.S. troops now stationed in Iraq.

Marquez, who retired from the U.S. Marine Corps as a sergeant major with more than 31 years of service, talked at the press conference about his four combat tours in Iraq. He said he has “vivid memories” of “intense fighting and unimaginable heroism.” During his second and third tours, he said he was subjected to “intense heavy fire, improvised explosive devices and frequent attacks.” During his fourth tour, he said he saw “a major reduction in combat operations” and signs of progress.

“The American Legion is an organization composed of members who have fought in this nation’s wars,” he said at the press conference. “We applaud the effort and note that it affirms what we’ve known for years: There is a strong bipartisan consensus that it is long past time to repeal these two authorizations.”

As director of The American Legion’s National Security Division, Marquez is responsible for support and analysis of defense and foreign policy issues. Previously, he served as director of the organization’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division. He spent 20 years of his military service deployed or stationed overseas.

By Jessica Youngman

Published in the Spring 2023 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

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