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Executive & Military

Norms Watch: The 100 Days Edition (Apr. 21-28)

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At the 100-day mark of his presidency, it is Trump’s norm violations that likely represent his most significant achievements. While Trump’s political agenda has been stymied and his legislatives accomplishments are few, he has successfully trampled over norms and shattered ethical standards with few consequences.  continue »

The Perils of a Congressional Authorization to Fight ISIS

On September 18, 2001, nobody could have imagined how far Congress’s Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) would be stretched nearly sixteen years later and across three presidential administrations. At the end of the Obama administration, the executive branch had interpreted the 2001 authority to apply to Al Qaeda’s members, associated forces, and a successor entity—officially extending the use of lethal force to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.…   continue »

U.S. Military Justice and “Operational Mishaps”: A Primer

As the tempo and intensity of United States military operations increases, the likelihood of operational mishaps increases as well. These mishaps – an anodyne term that cannot capture the reality experienced by those on the receiving end – can have devastating effects on innocent civilians and are highly likely to erode existing support and, indeed, to inflame passions both locally and around the globe.…   continue »

U.S.-Supported Government in Yemen Has Ties to Al-Qaeda


Defense secretary Jim Mattis has described Syria as “the most complex civil war probably raging on the planet at this time,” but Yemen is giving it a run for its money. In both places, the line between adversary and ally is not easily drawn, which puts the United States at risk of unintentionally furthering the cause of some of its worst enemies.  continue »

Making Sense of the Allegations that U.S. Military Struck a Mosque in Syria

There are now two very different competing pictures about whether the United States mistakenly struck a mosque in Syria on the night of March 16, 2017. On one view, based on  three independent reports—by Human Rights Watch, Bellingcat, and the University of London’s Forensic Architecture—along with some supplemental information from AirWars and White Helmets, the U.S.…   continue »

US Seeks New Assurances from Saudis on Civilian Casualties—but is that even possible?

The Trump administration is reportedly seeking a new set of assurances from Saudi Arabia that it will minimize civilian casualties in its air campaign in Yemen—but would those assurances be credible? The effort to get new safeguards in place is now part of the process of determining whether to renew a sale of precision guided missiles to Saudi Arabia, Reuters’ Warren Strobel and Arshad Mohammed report.…   continue »