Monday, May 24, 2010

US Foreign Policy part 5: Declaration of War

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According to the US Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war (Article 1, Section 8), and the President's job is to be the Chief Commander. However, the last time Congress voted and officially declared war was in WWII. We have had many wars since then, including the Korean War, Vietnam, Gulf War (Iraq-1990 & 2003), Bosnian War, Kosovo and a few others.

It should not sit well that the President can send our troops into armed conflict with another country without a declaration of war from our Congress, there was an attempt to shore this up with The War Powers Resolution of 1973, but that actually gave the President even more leeway to send troops into war for 90 days before requiring a vote from Congress, and that's only been activated *once* since the bill was voted into law.

The US Constitution wasn't perfect upon creation, but it was fairly intelligent when dividing up powers among the three branches of our Republic (did you know we're a republic?), because war should not be entered into lightly, and certainly shouldn't be left to a single person which is why I think it was highly intelligent to put it in the hands of several hundred people (Congress). When the war is needed it's declared and met with minimal objection, and has a clearly defined beginning and end, because Congress can specify who we are fighting, why we are fighting them and what is required for us to cease fighting. Can you say that about any of the wars we're fighting in currently?

There's a reason we have a procedure for war written into the Constitution, perhaps we should dust it off and use it again, if only to know where every politician stands rather than condemn & hide behind the irresponsible acts of the President.
_________________________________________________
part 1: Blowback
part 2: Sanctions
part 3: Just-War
part 4: Preventive War
part 5: Declaration of War
part 6: Torture
part 7: Finances
part 8: CIA
part 9: War on Terror
part 10: War on Terror part 2, Suicide Terrorists
part 11: Conclusion

4 comments:

Regina Quentin said...

A very well-written post. I feel more informed every time I read your blog. Your U.S. Foreign Policy posts have seriously shed light on a few confusing things.

Wes Hemings said...

Thanks Regina! There's only a few more to go and I feel like next week's (though a tad lengthy) is perhaps the most important: torture.

Candace said...

How I hate war and even more, undefined war. For people to die for an undecided matter is heart wrenching and unsettling. Though I know it's necessary at times, I think this is one thing that I will never truly understand.

Wes Hemings said...

Exactly, it's really sad because we're fighting a "war on terrorism", but terrorism is a tactic, how can you declare war on a tactic? This is why unless we change our foreign policy we will never cease fighting. I think politicians love war, it gives them an excuse to grab more power. Perhaps our next battle can be a "war on FUD" (Fear Uncertainty Doubt, for those unfamiliar).

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