Good War and Bad Peace: Perpetual War and the Erosion of Liberty

In a letter written in 1783, Benjamin Franklin said, “In my opinion, there never was a good War, or a bad Peace.”

That kind of talk today probably would get Ben branded a terrorist or an associate of al-Qaeda, ISIS, or the latest enemy in the perpetual War on Terror. Lindsey Graham definitely would tell him to shut up and then send him to Gitmo.

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Unconstitutional Wars, Unintended Results

Last week President Obama became the fourth consecutive American president to announce the bombing of Iraq. Obama’s actions dovetail perfectly with American sentiment. According to a recent Washington Post poll, 71% of Americans support bombing the radical insurgents who have overrun Iraq. 65% favor extending the aerial attacks into Syria and 58% support arming the Kurdish forces who are fighting the Islamic State – alternately called ISIS and ISIL – in Iraq. Americans want action and Obama is taking it.

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The Constitution and Just War

As President Obama authorizes US airstrikes in Iraq and future strikes anticipated for Syria, it’s important to first ask whether or not the Constitution is being followed. The invasion in Iraq and Afghanistan, and drone strikes in multiple other countries has increased terrorism through blowback. Destabilized areas have become a hot bed for violent extremism.…

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ISIS and War Powers

Recent events in Iraq seem to pose a challenge to a limited view of presidential war powers.  Suppose, the argument runs, a fast moving threat to U.S. national security arises quickly, at a time when Congress is not meeting.  Containing the threat depends on a fast response — but if the President must get Congress’ approval to act, action will come too late.  

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The President Does Not Have the Constitutional Power to Order Air Strikes in Iraq

The answer, in my view, depends on whether the U.S. can be “at war” with a non-state actor such as the Sunni rebel force in Iraq.  Here’s my analysis: (1) The President has executive power and commander-in-chief power, and thus can direct the military and conduct foreign relations, so long as he does not do…

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David Barron and Martin Lederman on Congress’ Power to Limit War

In my post on Congress’ power to declare a limited war, I noted that the leading scholarship in support of Congress’ power is by Saikrishna Prakash (here).  I should also have added as well the outstanding two-part article “The Commander in Chief at the Lowest Ebb” by David Barron and Martin Lederman in the Harvard Law…

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