April 14, 2017

Can Trump continue to engage in acts of war without congressional approval? And how far can he go?

By Loren DeJonge Schulman

Last week, a chemical weapons attack in a Syrian town killed more than 70 men, women, and children. As a result, the Trump administration took action against Syria, launching 59 cruise missiles from two Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean targeting a Syrian military airfield. The attack was quickly denounced by Syria and by Russia — a country that is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Since the attack, many questions have come up about Trump’s foreign policy approach. Some have praised, and some have criticized the administration's quick decision to act in Syria. Others are struck by our increasingly hostile stance toward Russia.

To get to the heart of these issues, I talked to The Post’s national security reporter Dan Lamothe for this week’s episode of “Can He Do That?” Dan explains what constitutes an act of war and what goes into military decision making.

We also talk to Nora Bensahel, a distinguished scholar in residence at American University’s School of International Service, about when a president has the authority to unilaterally wage war. And Loren Schulman, former senior advisor to National Security Advisor Susan Rice and current fellow at the Center for a New American Security, about the implications of Trump's action for foreign policy and national security.

Listen below or at The Washington Post.



  • Commentary
    • Breaking Defense
    • November 18, 2021
    For JADC2 to Have a Chance, DoD Needs to Get Serious About Data Standards

    We are past the tipping point where information and decision-centric capabilities are more important instruments of war than kinetic weapons....

    By Robert O. Work & Billy Fabian

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • November 17, 2021
    The U.S. Military and the Coming Great-Power Challenge

    Simply put, China and Russia had no interest in joining a U.S.-led international order. They had long rejected it. They had only lacked the means to openly contest it....

    By Dr. Andrew Krepinevich, Jr.

  • Commentary
    • November 10, 2021
    Sharper: Global Posture

    The Department of Defense is finalizing the first global posture review of the Biden administration, an assessment of the U.S. military's global footprint. What will the admin...

    By Anna Pederson

  • Commentary
    • Lawfare
    • November 7, 2021
    Over-the-Horizon Does Not Have to Mean Next Door

    Military pressure is only one element of a broader counterterrorism strategy to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a launching pad for terrorist operations against t...

    By Stacie Pettyjohn

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia