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On Executive Power

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Something happened, so let’s go to war!

My connections with the serious side of academia have been waning for a while in various ways, but I still occasionally find the opportunity to hit a conference. Sometimes, interesting stuff turns up:

The belief that launching and waging a war independently of Congress would result in popularity would be truly dangerous to both America and the world.  Fortunately, Presidents don’t tend to act in this way. Rather, they see unilateral war, especially when the chance of a prolonged engagement is high, as too politically risky. Even when Presidents claim that they do not need Congressional authority to launch a war, they seek such authority because they want political protection. And in truth it is unclear that Congressional approval did much to protect Johnson from the verdict of Vietnam or George W. Bush from the verdict of Iraq; both Presidents bore the brunt of public criticism for the decision to go to war, notwithstanding the approval of Congress.

Based this off the work of Patrick Hulme, a Ph.D. candidate in political science at UCSD. Long story short, a lot of what we think of as the “imperial presidency” is better described as Congress being utterly unwilling to step up to its foreign policy and war powers responsibilities.

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