Chris Edelson on the Danger of Unilateral Presidential Action in Iraq


Barack Obama
White House

Last night, President Obama announced that he has authorized airstrikes to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq created by terrifying and brutal ISIS forces.  U.S. strikes have apparently begun. It is clear that President Obama believes he has the authority to act unilaterally, and members of Congress seem to either be acquiescing or else urging him to act even more aggressively. Senators McCain and Graham issued a statement last night calling on the president "to devise a comprehensive strategy to degrade ISIS."  The senators warned that "the longer we wait to act, the worse this threat [from ISIS] will become, as recent events clearly show."

ISIS is a terrible, brutal group, writes Chris Edelson, the author of Emergency Presidential Power: From the Drafting of the Constitution to the War on Terror, but it is not clear that U.S. action can stop them. Congress must insist on playing a central role in the decision-making process, instead of leaving it all up to the president.