For the past sixteen years the United States military has been engaged in several conflicts, primarily, but not exclusively, in the Middle East. It’s not an exaggeration to say the United States has been in a state of war since the attacks of September 11. And yet, we have been trying to combat growing threats of new kinds of terrorism worldwide without a formal authorization of military force since 2003. With the rise of groups like ISIS, we should continue that precedent so that we can combat our enemies with full force.
Under the Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war – something that has only been done eleven times in our nation’s history. The Constitution is equally clear that after war has been declared, the President as Commander in Chief of all of the armed forces can direct the conduct of the war without the advice or approval of Congress. Another option that allows the president to conduct military operations is the enactment of an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF). This gives the Commander in Chief the authority to use military force but it can also place geographic and tactical limitations on what the president can do, require reports to Congress, or place a time limit on that authority.
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