The analysis of Iranian factional politics has often been compared to old-school ‘Kremlinology” which focused on the ‘Who’s Who’ of the Soviet Union. Western analysts would do things like look at pictures of officials in public gatherings to see who was sitting next to who and then speculate on whether that meant their political star was rising or falling. This is one of the most obvious cases of the same methodology being applied to Iran: who gets to kiss Khamenei’s forehead and who doesn’t?
The Politics of declaring war. When does the President of the United States have the legal right to war? Obama’s justification for escalating the US’ involvement in Iraq, based on post-9/11 Congressional authority, is questioned in this piece.
“PRESIDENT OBAMA’s declaration of war against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria marks a decisive break in the American constitutional tradition. Nothing attempted by his predecessor, George W. Bush, remotely compares in imperial hubris.”
Below is a link to the text of the War Powers Resolution. In brief, while only Congress can declare war, the President can use military force without congressional approval provided he consults with Congress and gets congressional authorization within 60 days. Whether the post 9/11 approval counts is debatable, its not the first time a US president has used such a ploy but he is pushing the envelope. It does not look like Congress or the Senate will challenge him on the issue at this point, particularly since they were criticizing him for not taking action earlier.
The contrast with earlier situation, where the Assad regime was accused of the use of chemical weapons, is particularly interesting. Then, when Obama was reluctant to get involved, he made a big deal out of the need to get Congressional support, which effectively absolved him of responsibility. Now, when Obama does want to act, its not so important…