In May 2013, some 11 years into the War on Terror, President Obama took a break from reviewing target sets and kill lists to deliver a much-anticipated "drone speech" at the National Defense University in Washington DC. "We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us," Obama admonished; "we have to be mindful of James Madison's warning that 'No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.'"
It was a disorienting performance: at times, Obama seemed to be speaking not as the president, but as his own loyal opposition—a thoughtful critic who might conduct himself differently if installed as head of Dronefleet Command. "Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions," Obama intoned, "we may be drawn into more wars we don't need to fight, or continue to grant presidents unbound powers." He welcomed this debate… with himself.
With Tomahawks raining down on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border, it would be nice to have Congress debate the president's newly declared war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but it doesn't look like that will happen anytime soon.