President Obama’s address on Wednesday authorizing U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIL or ISIS), was a sobering reminder of the immense power bestowed on the Commander in Chief to single-handedly order military action.
Like his address last September threatening the use of military force against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (a threat that never materialized), Obama’s most recent speech was the latest in a long history of solemn presidential declarations of war and authorizations of lesser military action.
Since World War II, the United States’ increasingly large and powerful military has been quite busy, to say the least, consistently involved in conflicts around the world. In little over half a century, American forces have fought in five all-out wars (Korea, Vietnam, the first war in Iraq, Afghanistan and the second war in Iraq) and been involved in many additional smaller military invasions.