Two years ago President Barack Obama declared that he would seek congressional approval for military intervention in Syria to thwart the Assad Regime’s use of chemical weapons. However, there has been little acknowledgement of the so-called war against the Islamic State. The need for congressional approval in Syria never arose due to Russia’s diplomatic intervention that settled the chemical-weapons problem, but what about the undeclared war on the Islamic State?
In an article for the Atlantic, Garrett Epps writes how for the past year, the United States has been in a much wider conflict with the Islamic State, but with an unclear plan involving numerous regional players. Epps explains how an official declaration of war would not only clarify U.S. goals and end state, but is also a constitutional obligation.
“There is a way that the government could explain itself; indeed, the government is required to do that by Article I of the Constitution, which assigns to Congress the power to ‘declare war,’” Epps writes. “Read the words in context with the subsequent clauses — Congress has the power to fund or defund the military and to set the rules ‘for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.’ In other words, the military belongs to Congress, and through them to the people. When the President wants to borrow it, he has to ask for permission and explain why.”