Listen: Political Scientist Dominic Tierney Discusses President Obama's Request for War Powers to Fight ISIS

Radio Times (WHYY): Obama’s request for war powers authorization

Associate Professor of Political Science Dominic Tierney was a recent guest on WHYY's Radio Times to discuss President Barack Obama's request for war powers to fight ISIS, the history of war powers resolutions, and the president's overall strategy to fight ISIS.

In the hour-long chat, Tierney offered his interpretation of the White House's official request for war powers, which asked Congress to authorize limited use of the U.S. armed forces against ISIS, but not "enduring offensive ground combat operations."

"I think a fair reading of this is 'not the Iraq War'," said Tierney. "Note that the loopholes in this phrase are large enough to drive a tank through. There can be many different types of ground operations that would not be seen as 'enduring' or 'offensive' so there is a wide latitude for a president."

Tierney added that the difficulty of fighting ISIS is the reason for the murkiness of the authorization's language.

"Obama sort of has a dilemma…I think intellectually he is committed to this idea of congressional authorization and he also wants to get some political cover for this war," he said. "At the same time, he is the president and he doesn't want to bind his own hands."

An expert in international relations, Tierney has previously discussed ISIS, Syria, and President Obama's strategy with MSNBC's Morning Joe and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Tierney, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, is an official correspondent at The Atlantic and the author of three books, including How We Fight: Crusades, Quagmires, and the American Way of War. His fourth book, The Right Way to Lose a War: America in an Age of Unwinnable Conflicts, will be released in June. Tierney completed his Ph.D. in international politics at Oxford University in 2003 and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Mershon Center at Ohio State University and the Olin Institute at Harvard University before coming to Swarthmore in 2005. In 2008-2009, he was a research fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.