Quick war powers digest

Putting all my writing on parliamentary war powers in one place:

Action or inaction? What are May’s political options? Times Red Box, 12 April 2018: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/james-strong-action-or-inaction-what-are-may-s-political-options-pb87brl8f 

Parliamentary war powers: The pros and cons, PSA Political Insight, 12 April 2018: https://www.psa.ac.uk/insight-plus/blog/parliamentary-war-powers-pros-and-cons

Key point: May’s best option in terms of domestic politics is to offer the US logistical and intelligence support, avoiding the need either to bypass parliament or to risk losing a vote. If she wants to do more than that, she’ll have to take significant political risks.

The war powers of the British parliament: What has been established, and what remains unclear? British Journal of Politics and International Relations, February 2018: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1369148117745767 (non-paywalled pre-publication version here: https://drjamesstrong.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/strong-war-powers-update-rev-final-as-submitted.pdf)

Key point: Parliament has no legal war powers, but most MPs expect a say over future military combat operations. Future governments will face two related choices – do they think they can afford to bypass MPs, and do they think they can win a vote? What they do will depend on how they answer these questions (we’re in scenario 4 right now):


Interpreting the Syria vote: Parliament and British foreign policy, International Affairs, September 2015: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1468-2346.12401

Key point: The Cameron government’s defeat over Syria said more about party politics than it did about military strategy. Had Cameron successfully done a deal with Ed Miliband, the 2013 Syria vote could have been won.

Why parliament now decides on war: Tracing the growth of the parliamentary prerogative through Syria, Libya and Iraq, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, June 2014: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467-856X.12055

Key point: Cumulative precedents set in parliamentary votes on Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011 and Syria in 2013 established a convention that MPs should have the chance to veto military combat deployments.

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