International Law

Our Non-Answer to Jen and Steve's Question

By Benjamin Wittes
Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 10:56 AM

In their latest post, Jen and Steve ask me the following question: "Why, exactly, are you so convinced that [ad hoc Congressional authorization for armed conflict is] unrealistic, and that we’d be better off with Congress abandoning the field and delegating such a momentous determination to this—or any future—President?"

I am tempted to write a lengthy post in response, but this conversation is going in circles, and we think it's time to wrap it up. So we're going to leave this question on the table, merely noting that Libya offers a cautionary tale for those who think it's realistic to believe that the absence of congressional action will meaningfully restrain military actions that presidents want to take and believe are in the national interest. For the reasons we state in the paper, we agree that Steve and Jen's approach is feasible, we think it's more problematic than ours.