The problem in recent decades, especially after the 9/11 attacks, is that we have moved to a model of perpetual armed conflict, in which the boundaries of timing, geography, and purpose are ambiguous. The line between what is considered war and what is not is very thin, so it is much more difficult to identify when we go from one state to the other.
This is due in part to technological advances, such as drone warfare and cyberattacks, which make it possible to commit acts in other countries that would otherwise be considered acts of war (assassinate adversaries, destroy buildings, affect nuclear facilities) without a single US soldier leaves US territory. It also has to do with the executive function of war: Although Congress has not made a formal declaration of war since 1942, several presidents have taken advantage of the broad war powers granted to George W. Bush in 2002, which allowed him to authorize the use of military force.
Could it be said that we are at war in Pakistan or Somalia, for example, where we have carried out drone attacks against Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and Taliban militants in Pakistan since 2004 and against Al Shabab in Somalia since 2011? Are we at war in Niger, where US forces were sent and where four US soldiers were killed in an ambush in October 2017?
The United States has never formally announced its involvement in the civil war in Yemen, but a Saudi-led coalition has killed civilians with US-made nuclear warheads and selected targets with American help.
Our role in the conflict in Yemen, which is now seven years old, has been of such importance that many experts are convinced that, without our presence, the Saudi-led coalition would try to reach a peace agreement. It has been of such importance that U.S. lawmakers, including a bipartisan majority of senators in 2019 and Representatives Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, and Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, this year, called it a violation of Article I of the Constitution. , which gives Congress powers to declare war, and the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which clearly defines, in terms of nature and terms, the military actions ordered by the president.
Those legislators concluded that we crossed the line in Yemen, although it is not very clear where that line is.