To find a joint way to draw down the American troops in the war zone, Congress and the President may seek congressional mechanisms to resolve their differences with interactive processes. Then, constitutional issues arise as to whether a congressional mechanism may use a legislative veto – authorization for a drawdown with a reservation of power for a vote by the two Houses of Congress – so as to let the President draw down troop levels while reserving congressional power to stop that draw down. These issues illuminate war powers in the abstract; the issues also apply concretely to the main war of the 2010s, namely, the long war in Afghanistan.
For those working at the confluence of law and national security, the President has made clear that ours is a nation of laws, and that an abiding respect for the rule of law is one of our country’s greatest strengths, even against an enemy with only contempt for the law. This is so for the Central Intelligence Agency no less than any other instrument of national power engaged in the fight against al Qaeda and its militant allies or otherwise seeking to protect the United States from foreign adversaries. And that is the central point of this piece: Just as ours is a nation of laws, the CIA is an institution of laws, and the rule of law is integral to Agency operations.
When a nation deploys ground forces, an inverse relationship exists between the number of military deaths and public support. This stark and monolithic metric, which economists call the “casualty sensitivity” effect, requires close examination today. On the modern battlefield, contractor personnel die at rates similar to — or indeed often in excess of — soldiers, yet the U.S. public and Congress remain largely unaware of this “substitution.” This article explains the phenomenon, identifies some of the challenges and complexities associated with quantifying and qualifying the real price of combat in a modern outsourced military, and encourages greater transparency.