United States. Congress -- Military policy, Military policy -- Analysis, Presidents -- Political activity, and Presidents -- Analysis
This article explores the nature of congressional-presidential relations regarding war making in the early republic. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, I argue that Congress was not primary in war making during this period. Examining small wars, particularly those against native tribes, demonstrates how little influence Congress had, with oversight generally occurring only after the fact. Rhetorical presidential support for Congress's role did not accord with their practical readiness to initiate and manage hostilities unilaterally. The willingness of modern presidents to act without congressional consent is therefore not necessarily a historical aberration.
Commercial treaties -- Political aspects, Diplomacy -- Analysis, Foreign policy -- Analysis, Presidents -- Political activity, and Presidents -- Analysis
It is widely lamented, that lame-duck presidents are do-nothing presidents. But systematic studies of these periods focus almost exclusively on domestic policy, ignoring the implications for foreign affairs. In this article, I argue that presidents are no less ambitious at the end of their time in office and the desire to cement their historical legacies can even make them more so. However, this ambition is checked by a substantial increase in the constraints imposed by other political actors--most notably Congress. This mismatch between incentives and opportunity pushes presidents toward foreign policy, where meaningful achievements are still possible due to greater presidential autonomy. The result is an increase in diplomacy, and international agreements, and use of force. Keywords: lame duck, foreign policy, diplomacy, use of force, bilateral investment