Professor Matthew Waxman Reviews Legality of Obama’s Drone War

September 12, 2016—President Obama’s use of military force to fight a long-distance war against the Islamic State, while likely not violating the Constitution, comes with “costs to U.S. democracy,” Columbia Law School Professor Matthew C. Waxman writes in a Time Magazine op-ed on the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

The article titled “The Other Forever War Anniversary,” co-written by Harvard Law School Professor Jack Goldsmith, reflects and expands upon views Waxman and Goldsmith previously shared in “The Legal Legacy of Light-Footprint Warfare,” a paper in which they reviewed the executive branch legal interpretations Obama used to justify drone warfare. It was published earlier this year in The Washington Quarterly.

Obama’s decision to extend the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF)— the foundation for conflicts with the Taliban, al Qaeda, and others—to the Islamic State appears to fall under the historical pattern of executive unilateralism, the authors write. However, Waxman and Goldsmith recognize “light-footprint warfare’s costs to U.S. democracy and its risks to a politically sustainable foreign policy over the long run.”

Before joining the Law School, Waxman held a series of senior positions in the last Bush administration, where he worked on counterterrorism policies.