Following US President Donald Trump’s decision to assassinate prominent Iranian General Qasem Soleimani on 3 January, Washington and Tehran wound up on the verge of a full-scale armed conflict. But for now, both sides seem to have chosen to avoid bloodshed, with Iran’s retaliation resulting in only minor damage to American bases in Iraq.
The POTUS’ unilateral decision to assassinate Iran’s top commander of the Quds Force without consulting with Congress in advance has sparked heated debate among US lawmakers on whether the president abused his powers and should be limited in his ability to take action that could lead to a war with the Islamic Republic.
The American legislature has in the past limited the commander-in-chief’s power to make war, but, despite this, the Democrat-dominated House of Representatives passed a resolution, albeit non-binding, seeking to limit Donald Trump’s ability to start hostilities against Iran. Here is what the process of launching foreign military operations looks like and how it actually works in the US right now.
Genuine Commander-in-Chief or Just a Lame Duck?
The US Constitution designates the president as “commander-in-chief of the army and navy”; however, it does not explicitly describe the president as having the authority to initiate hostilities on their own (such as conducting an airstrike on a foreign state’s territory). Instead, the Constitution names Congress as the body with the power to officially declare a war. It’s…