“If a war be made by invasion of a foreign nation, the President is not only authorized but bound to resist force by force. He does not initiate the war, but is bound to accept the challenge without waiting for any special legislative authority.”
So said the Supreme Court in the Civil War-era Prize Cases more than 150 years ago. It has been the law of the United States as long as there has been a United States. It reflects the venerable law of nations, derived from natural law and long preexisting our republic.
When there are forcible threats to the United States, the president has not merely the power but the obligation to repel them. In large measure, that is why there is an Office of the President. The Framers grasped, in a time of dire peril to the fledgling nation, that national security cannot be achieved by committee. A single chief executive, the president, was necessary to marshal the might of the nation with dispatch when America was under siege.
These are rudimentary principles. Alas, they obviously need restating in the wake of the attack President Trump authorized late Thursday that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), founder of its jihad-exporting Quds Forces and Tehran’s terror master nonpareil.