However, largely everyone concurred: its complicated.
What does US law nation ?
The War Powers Resolution of 1973 was designed to serve as a check on the president, involving the commander-in-chief to consult Congress when dispatching US combat troops into an armed conflict. But it enables the president to act unilaterally in the event of a national emergency created by assault upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces, which has been broadly construed by recent administrations while approaching international crises.
The Trump administration has been quick to point to its notification of congressional leaders in both parties, as well as certain members on the relevant committees, ahead of the presidents action on Thursday. The White House has also framed the legality of the strikes as a matter of national security and protecting against the potential threat to US forces in the region.
In 2011, the Obama administration argued its bombing campaign in Libya was within the presidents legal authority as its intent was aimed at preserving regional stability and supporting the[ United Nation Security Councils] credibility and effectiveness.
So what role does Congress play ?
Under the US constitution, the president cannot declare war absent congressional approving. But recent administrations, through the use of droning strikes and so-called special operators( as opposed to ground troops ), have created a decidedly lax interpreting of military participation.
When Barack Obama was seeking to respond to Bashar al-Assads use of chemical weapons in 2013, he asked Congress to approve the use of military force through what is known as an AUMF( authorization for employ of military force ). But the president notably underlined that he did not require congressional approving to take limited military action, contending instead he deemed it the appropriate thing to do.
Congress did not ultimately hold a vote on a new AUMF, with many Republican including with regard to taking a posture against doing so under Obama. Some argued the president had the authority to act unilaterally, seemingly not was intended to incur the political danger that has accompanied military conflict since Congress voted in favor of George W Bushs intrusion of Iraq in 2003.
How does Trumps action differ from Obamas ?
Although Obama did not proceed with military action against the Syrian regime, his administration eventually launched airstrikes in both Syria and Iraq targeted at Islamic State. For that action, lawyers in the Obama White House relied on the AUMF passed by Congress in 2001.
That AUMF George W Bush with the authority to exercise military action against countries, organizations and other groups involved in the September 11 assaults. Although the terrorist group in question at the time was al-Qaida, the measure has since been applied as the justification for broader military action in the Countries of the middle east as the US government has characterized Isis as an offshoot of al-Qaida.
While the Trump administration has carried forth Obamas military campaign against Isis, the presidents authorization of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a government airbase was the first US strike targeted at Assads regime in the six-year Syrian civil war. Though many acknowledge the 2001 AUMF has provided covering, even if questionably, to US military action in Syria, legal experts largely concur a direct attack on Assads military requires a new AUMF.
Trump, incidentally, advocated against Obama taking military action in 2013 and insisted on the president attempting authority from Congress: