Joan Hoff is currently a research professor of history at Montana State University. She is a former president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency, a former executive director of the OAH, and a former director of the Contemporary History Institute at Ohio University. An occasional media commentator on the presidency, she is the author of A Faustian Foreign Policy from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush (2007), The Cooper's Wife is Missing: The Trials of Bridget Cleary (2000), Nixon Reconsidered (1994), Law, Gender, and Injustice: A Legal History of U.S. Women (2nd edition, 1994), and Herbert Hoover: Forgotten Progressive (reissued, 1992), among other works.
The United States was has been at war off on and on for most of the 20th century and now in the second decade of the 21st century the country has engaged in two lengthy wars in the Middle East neither of which is completely over. There is little dispute that the most important decision any president makes is to go to war and the ability of modern presidents to wage war or order military interventions is easier than ever before. The modern presidency (which means the presidency since Franklin Delano Roosevelt) has seen a tremendous increase in what I call the “semi-constitutional powers” of presidents at the expense of both the congressional and judicial branches of government when it comes to conducting foreign policy. In fact, it can be argued that the extraordinary powers of the modern presidency are primarily the creation of war.