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Tag Archive: Presidential Powers

The Fog of War Powers



In the aftermath of President Trump’s strike on a Syrian airfield, commentators continue to debate the scope of presidential war powers under the Constitution.  Yet many of these analyses should probably come with a consumer warning label – “my opinion only, not necessarily the law.”  Well, just what is the “law” of presidential war powers? …   continue »

Trump on North Korea: The Dangerous Impulse to Go it Alone

At Monday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked whether President Donald Trump would seek congressional authorization before taking military action in North Korea. The full response is below. The short answer: No. As a blanket statement, this is quite concerning — suggesting a president that seeks to concentrate the war-declaring and war-making powers into one, and in the course of doing so, potentially embroil the United States and key allies in a costly conflict based on a unilateral decision to act.…   continue »

Apples and Oranges–Obama’s and Trump’s Plans to Strike Syria for Chem Weapons Use


One of the most important policy and legal questions moving forward is whether the Trump administration needs to seek congressional approval for military strikes in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons. That question applies not only in retrospect to Thursday’s strike, but perhaps even more so to the prospect of future military operations.…   continue »

Syria and the Law of Humanitarian Intervention (Part II: International Law and the Way Forward)

My first post for Just Security explained why, despite some bungled politics, President Obama’s proposed military action in Syria could have been lawful under U.S. domestic law.  This post discusses why President Obama did not violate international law by threatening to use force in Syria in the face of a persistent Russian veto, and how the Syria crisis might best evolve from here.…   continue »

Syria and the Law of Humanitarian Intervention (Part I: Political Miscues and U.S. Law)

Crises are lived forward but understood backwards.  While it is still too early to know how the Syria crisis of 2013 will end, we can start evaluating what precedents of law and policy it should generate, properly understood.  Notwithstanding a welter of political miscues, when the dust settles, history might well remember the episode as “Obama’s Harfleur:” where an announced threat of potentially illegal force catalyzed a better nonviolent result, here by reinvigorating multilateral diplomacy abroad and much-needed public debate at home.…   continue »