By David P. Auerswald
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Additional resources for Disarmed Democracies: Domestic Institutions and the Use of Force
Any French move to dislodge the Libyans from Chad would have required a number of weeks to implement and might have embroiled France in a long guerrilla con›ict. 10 Giscard’s Socialist opponent, François Mitterrand, led in the polls with a noninterventionist campaign platform. Engaging in a North African war would only fuel Socialist criticisms of Giscard’s interventionist tendencies in North Africa. Giscard chose not to intervene. As the French example suggests, not only will executives be less likely to initiate con›ict before an election, they should also be less likely to make coercive diplomacy threats.
A divided Congress cannot rely on the passage of new legislation to restrain the president, since they will face an executive veto that they may not be able to override. Congress could, however, refuse supplemental appropriations or refuse to extend sunset provisions—such as that contained in war powers legislation—as either option requires a majority of votes in only a single congressional chamber to be effective. The president should still be somewhat hesitant to use force in this situation. It is dif‹cult but by no means impossible for a divided Congress to assert its prerogatives during con›icts.
Next assume a hawkish executive with partial agenda control. A dovish legislature could prevent military con›ict or otherwise constrain the executive. After all, the third component of agenda control (missing from these executives) is the ability to prevent or veto legislative alternatives to using force. Executives should hesitate to use force or make threats in those instances because they could always ‹nd their con›ict initiative overturned. Legislative opposition is less likely if both the executive and the legislature are hawkish, yet a hawkish executive cannot always count on permanent legislative support.
Disarmed Democracies: Domestic Institutions and the Use of Force by David P. Auerswald