While President Trump can decide whether to use force against Iran, Congress has taken steps that may make him unwilling to do so.
Patrick Hulme is a Ph.D. student in political science at UCSD, where he focuses on congressional-executive relations in U.S. foreign policy, U.S.-China relations, and international security. He is a graduate student researcher for the Center for Peace and Security Studies (cPASS), the 21st Century China Center, and the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC). He holds a J.D. from the UCLA School of Law.
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Since President Truman’s “police action” in the Korean War, scholars in law and political science have considered the possibility that presidents would attempt to substitute congressional authorization with authorization from an international organization when using military force.
Recent moves and countermoves by the U.S. and Iran in the Persian Gulf over the past few months have increased speculation about the prospect of war in the region. Some members of Congress, including a few Republicans, have stated that the president cannot use military force against the Islamic Republic without the approval of the legislature.