Democrats: Trump Lacks Authority for ‘Bloody Nose’ Strike on North Korea

They're right. And there's precious little they can do about it.

Eighteen Democratic Senators have reportedly signed a letter to President Trump informing him they are “deeply concerned about the potential consequences of a preemptive military strike on North Korea and the risks of miscalculation and retaliation.” Further, they assert, “without congressional authority, a preventative or preemptive U.S. military strike would lack either a constitutional basis or legal authority.”

They’re certainly right.

Alas, as I argue in a piece circulating for publication elsewhere, there’s precious little they can do about it. I’ll post more when the piece gets published.

FILED UNDER: National Security,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. CSK says:

    What chiefly concerns me about a letter like this is that it might goad Trump into doing exactly what the letter strongly advises him not to do.

  2. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    I am reassured that there is a big difference between what Trump DOES and what Trump SAYS. His actions show him considerably more restrained and rational than his public proclamations indicate. Why, it’s almost like his utterances are intended to distract from his actions.

    On the other hand, Trump has a very powerful weapon in the Obama/Hillary Libya precedent to do whatever the hell he wants, militarily, without bothering to allow Congress to “advise and consent,” so if he chooses to hit North Korea, there’s very little than can be done.

    And, sadly, Trump’s opponents have utterly exhausted their strategic OUTRAGE!!!!!!! reserves, so a lot of people will simply let their eyes glaze over when they hear about the latest WORST THING EVAR!!!!! Trump has done, should he take Lil’ Kim up on all his bellicose threats and provocations…

    On a side note: IF Trump does a strike against North Korea, I hope at least one missile is set aside for putting the Pueblo on the bottom. For way too long North Korea’s had that ship as a trophy; if we have the opportunity, we should deprive him of that.

  3. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier: Let me clarify one point: when I say “I am reassured,” I mean “I find it comforting,” not “I am told.” In retrospect, I see how that could be considered ambiguous, so I want there to be no confusion.

  4. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    His actions show him considerably more restrained and rational than his public proclamations indicate.

    He fired the FBI Director in order to halt an investigation into himself.
    He proclaimed Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
    He has ignored attacks on the US by Russia.
    He paid a porn star hush money.
    He endorsed a child molester.
    I don’t think those words, restrained and rational, mean what you think they mean.

  5. JohnMcC says:

    Those 18 Democrats should go back in time a bit to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Does anyone remember Iraqi freedom? Anyhow, 21 Dem Senators voted to NOT invade. Along with 2 Senators from the Repub caucus: Chafee and Jeffords.

    So it might sound good: 18 courageous lawmakers. Mr Smith went to Washington etc. Actually it sucks that number isn’t 49 Dems and 51 R’s.

  6. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Christ, you’re full of crap.

    He fired the FBI Director in order to halt an investigation into himself.

    No, he fired the FBI Director who had repeatedly violated policies regarding classified information, including turning over official FBI documents to a law professor for the explicit purpose of having them leaked to reporters. And the investigation continued apace — oddly enough, with the appointment of a special counsel, precisely how said now-former FBI Director wanted it to go. And every president has the authority to fire the FBI Director — they serve at the pleasure of the president, and when a president has lost faith in said director (like pretty much everyone else had), it’s their right to fire them.

    He proclaimed Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

    No, Israel proclaimed Jerusalem the capital of Israel, back in 1949. The US Congress recognized that in 1995, when they passed a law to move the US Embassy.. Trump recognized that proclamation, and several other countries promptly followed suit. And, amazingly, the Mideast failed to explode and the world did not end.

    He has ignored attacks on the US by Russia.

    You mean like Obama ignored repeated attacks on the US by Iran? Cite a few, please. And be specific — dates, places, numbers of casualties.

    He paid a porn star hush money.

    Denied by the porn star and Trump, but of course you know better.

    He endorsed a child molester.

    Really? Who? Be sure to cite the conviction of the person, too — date, court, sentence, and other relevant details. And be specific. For example, “On September 25, 2017, Anthony Weiner, married to Hillary Clinton top aide Huma Abedin, pleaded guilty in federal court to transferring obscene material to a minor and was sentenced to 21 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. The minor in question was a 15-year-old girl.”

    Nice job there — five for five. All totally wrong. “Fake news,” even.

  7. Matt Bernius says:

    This is a step in the right direction. However, its symbolic until 60+ members of the senate are willing to sign onto said letter (including when a representative of their “team” is sitting in the president’s seat).