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Subject: The Commander-in-Chief rss

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Mike Szarka
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When it is your turn to send a VASSAL move, the wait is excruciating. When it's my turn, well, I've been busy.
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Now I don't want this to go RSP, so there is no reason or person who is prompting me to ask this question. It is only the curiosity of a non-American to wonder about the US chain of command.

I know the President has to go to the US congress for a DoW. But he/she has pretty significant powers without such a declaration.

In a hypothetical scenario, what are his/her powers to initiate a nuclear first strike, either limited or full-blown? What would the process be and who would have to "turn the other keys" so to speak? If very fast action were required (or thought to be required), how would it work?

What about conventional military incursions, let's imagine someone had intelligence suggesting presence of a a WMD facility in some foreign country? Could a carrier-based strike be ordered without a DoW?

And what if there was a pattern where it became apparent to many that a President was sliding down an abyss of mental instability? Is there some process other than a drawn out impeachment to remove him/her? How much harm could an unstable President cause in a worst-case scenario?
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Wendell
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The president can launch the nukes at any time on his/her own authority. Period.

The actual PROCESS requires various men and women in silos and submarines, etc, to read messages, turn keys, etc to launch the nukes. As I understand it, the reason the president has such authority (not needing to consult with anybody, etc) is because of the need for speed, to get them launched before they (or the president) are vaporized by incoming nukes. But nothing limits the launch to THAT scenario and a president can do a first launch if he or she likes.

As for conventional military incursions, well the last time the US formally declared war on anybody was during WW2. So yeah, in practical terms the president has plenty of leeway to do military action without a DoW.

Mental instability? Well that would require a VP brave enough to invoke Section 4 of the 25th amendment...
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Antonio B-D
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I don't know in the US, but according to Yes, Prime Minister season 1. The UK pm has 12 hours to decide. And we all know that tv series is 100% real.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I know it is a silly comment but Wendell has already replied and I wanted to avoid any comment that would have been RSPed.
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Ben Delp
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Re conventional troops: As I recall, the War Powers Act permits the President to commit troops for up to 60 days without Congressional approval. Congress may then either approve/extend the President's writ, or the troops must be withdrawn.

Now, that was when I was in grade school, and the WPA was passed in 1973, so the law may have changed since then. But that's how I remember it anyway.

EDIT: I just looked, and the WPA also requires the PResident notify Congress of his actions within 48 hours. In today's world, that seems like a really long time, but I suppose not so in 1973. Maybe the 48 hours was intended to protect the surprise of any developing first strike. I don't remember to be honest, but that would make a degree of sense.
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Matt D
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I see I'm not the only one with a subscription to the New Yorker...

I read it only for the cartoons, promise!
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"She comes out of the Sun in a silk dress runnin' like a watercolor in the rain."
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    The U.S. has had significant troops deployed for 13 years without a declaration of war. Congress doesn't seem to mind enough to reign in what could be considered a Presidential overreach, though they appear to be pissed as hell about his actions on national monuments.

    The short answer is that the law is muddy when it comes to the implementation of War Powers Act, and largely anything can be considered an Executive prerogative when Congress doesn't press the issue. That's where we stand today, in spite of both houses of Congress in opposition (at least in theory) to the Presidency. In my opinion they're a lot cozier than anyone lets on.

             S.

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Wendell
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Sagrilarus wrote:

    The short answer is that the law is muddy when it comes to the implementation of War Powers Act, and largely anything can be considered an Executive prerogative when Congress doesn't press the issue.


I agree. Very muddy. I think the WPA is a dead letter.

I should note though that both in '90 and '03, the president did seek a Congressional approval before going into Iraq and Iraq. But neither were in the form of a formal declaration of war.
 
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Antonio B-D
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And that is if you do not include international legislation. No matter what the US authority to send troops into a country (say Pakistan) to capture or kill a (technically) a civilian from another country is, under international law it is definitely a crime (irrespective of how better the world is without such individual). Even if you are a Nobel peace prize winner.
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Mike Szarka
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When it is your turn to send a VASSAL move, the wait is excruciating. When it's my turn, well, I've been busy.
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abendoso wrote:
And that is if you do not include international legislation. No matter what the US authority to send troops into a country (say Pakistan) to capture or kill a (technically) a civilian from another country is, under international law it is definitely a crime (irrespective of how better the world is without such individual). Even if you are a Nobel peace prize winner.



But if you are not a lawyer (I vaguely recall that you are?), it is possible to believe that the ends justify the means in certain instances. And I'm hardly an anarchist.
 
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Antonio B-D
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mcszarka wrote:
abendoso wrote:
And that is if you do not include international legislation. No matter what the US authority to send troops into a country (say Pakistan) to capture or kill a (technically) a civilian from another country is, under international law it is definitely a crime (irrespective of how better the world is without such individual). Even if you are a Nobel peace prize winner.



But if you are not a lawyer (I vaguely recall that you are?), it is possible to believe that the ends justify the means in certain instances. And I'm hardly an anarchist.


As you say I am a lawyer so I can't go pass the violation of international law (no matter how well I might think of Obama in other fields). You know who also thought that the ends justifies the mean? Osama Bin Laden. I would like to think that we are better than them.

But it is funny that we all take for granted that the only thing that the POTUS has to do is to comply with US legislation.... To invade or attack other countries... Well, come November we will be able to test how much international laws can be violated if one party wins (and keeps its promising of committing war crimes) or, if the other party wins at least we will be able to read about this problems from the private server of the president
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