Bush and Obama's gifts to Trump: More war-making powers

August 8, 2017, University of Waterloo

Thanks to the military interventions by the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, the former presidents have effectively expanded executive authority for Donald Trump to go to war, a study from the University of Waterloo has found.

The study of U.S. military interventions between 2001 and 2016 found considerable similarities in the way Bush and Obama navigated around consultation and authorization protocols with Congress and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

This set a precedent that presidents could unilaterally go to war as opposed to seeking authorization from Congress, as was the practice in previous administrations.

"Right now, Donald Trump has an enormous amount of power to launch military action, perhaps more than any president since the Vietnam War," says Aaron Ettinger, an assistant professor of political science at Waterloo. "Trump's predecessors left a legacy of military adventurism that suits his aggressive style."

For his study, Ettinger researched official U.S government documents and surveyed the vast literature on post-9/11 U.S. foreign policy.

The erosion of legal and institutional constraints on the president going to war didn't happen overnight, according to the study. Since 9/11, Bush and Obama both worked around domestic and international law in ways that tried to balance U.S. independence with respect for international order.

The study also found that while both Bush and Obama appealed to Congress for authorizations for the use of military force, it was Obama who proved more willing to proceed without it and by the end of his presidency, American forces were deployed and equipped for combat across North and East Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia.

"Obama scrupulously resisted large or ground-based military actions, but his willingness to move forward militarily without Congressional agreement represents a remarkable expansion of executive authority," said Ettinger. "The precedents set by both Bush and Obama take on added significance, given the inconsistencies in the new administration and instabilities internationally.

"Trump's first six months as president have seen tensions rise on the Korean peninsula, ongoing depravity in Syria and Iraq, the devolution of relations with Russia, strains with China, and the alienation of NATO allies," Ettinger said. "We will soon see how a with no foreign affairs experience, an aggressive personality and few restraints will respond to the current global climate."

Aaron Ettinger's study was recently published in the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal.

Explore further: Trump moves to lift bans on Arctic drilling

Related Stories

Trump moves to lift bans on Arctic drilling

April 28, 2017

US President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at lifting bans on drilling for oil and gas in offshore Arctic and Atlantic areas, saying it would pull in "billions of dollars" for America and create jobs.

Trump doesn't rule out 'amended' Obamacare: WSJ

November 11, 2016

US President-elect Donald Trump has said he will consider an "amended" version of Barack Obama's signature health care law—a sign of a shift in position after repeatedly vowing on the campaign trail that he would repeal ...

Trump to roll back Obama clean power plan

March 27, 2017

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Tuesday to undo his predecessor Barack Obama's plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fueled power plants, according to the new environmental chief.

Trump's cellphone use worries security experts

June 1, 2017

President Donald Trump, who blasted Hillary Clinton for using a personal email server, might be a walking magnet for eavesdropping and malware if he is using an unsecured cellphone to chat with foreign leaders.

Groups sue to stop Trump from renewing offshore drilling

May 3, 2017

Environmental and Alaska Native groups sued Wednesday to maintain a U.S. ban on oil and gas exploration in most of the Arctic Ocean and select areas of the Atlantic after President Donald Trump took steps to put the waters ...

Recommended for you

The powerful meteor that no one saw (except satellites)

March 19, 2019

At precisely 11:48 am on December 18, 2018, a large space rock heading straight for Earth at a speed of 19 miles per second exploded into a vast ball of fire as it entered the atmosphere, 15.9 miles above the Bering Sea.

Revealing the rules behind virus scaffold construction

March 19, 2019

A team of researchers including Northwestern Engineering faculty has expanded the understanding of how virus shells self-assemble, an important step toward developing techniques that use viruses as vehicles to deliver targeted ...

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

Levitating objects with light

March 19, 2019

Researchers at Caltech have designed a way to levitate and propel objects using only light, by creating specific nanoscale patterning on the objects' surfaces.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rderkis
not rated yet Aug 08, 2017
I just can't believe it!
We gave more power to go to war to a "World Class Negotiator". :-)
I am not sure but isn't negotiation almost the opposite of warmongering, in spite of what our press wants/forces us to believe?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.