Grand Strategy

Article

Syria, Threats of Force, and Constitutional War Powers

Author: Matthew C. Waxman
Yale Law Journal Online

Matthew Waxman argues that debates about constitutional war powers neglect the critical role of threats of war or force in U.S. foreign policy. The recent Syria case highlights the President's vast legal power to threaten military force as well as the political constraints imposed by Congress on such threats. Incorporating threats into an understanding of constitutional powers over war and peace upends traditional arguments about presidential flexibility and congressional checks—arguments that have failed to keep pace with changes in U.S. grand strategy.

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What is Obama’s “grand” foreign policy strategy?

Asked by Zahra Fatima, from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad

"Grand strategy" is defined as a coherent plan to use diplomatic, military, and economic instruments in certain ways to achieve national, overarching objectives. Grand strategies are usually identified by simple labels such as "containment," "détente," or "engagement and enlargement." In reality, international politics is complicated, and a democratic political system at home imposes constraints from public opinion, mobilized interest groups, and Congress.

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