Traditionally, war powers have resided with Congress — or so the Constitutional story goes. It’s been a long time, of course, since that’s been a reality, but over the last few decades American wars have become ever more purely and starkly presidential in nature. Last year, in a situation of open armed intervention in Libya, President Obama declined to seriously discuss the matter with Congress, or even abide by the more recent War Powers Resolution of 1973.
And that was for our most recent “overt” war. The “covert” ones (which, by the way, in a new definition of that term, are regularly in the news and amount to bragging points in an election year) are now purely presidential — from the ongoing full-scale drone war in Pakistan to more minor versions of the same in Yemen and Somalia. The president even picks the individual targets of the attacks himself. The same was true of the Special Operations Forces raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Osama bin Laden. War in all its aspects is increasingly the president’s private domain, not a matter for either Congress, or certainly the American people.
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