According to an article in Fox News, the United States has been involved in over 100 foreign military conflicts, but has only officially declared war in five cases: The War of 1812, the Spanish-American and Mexican American Wars, and both World Wars. Any other foreign conflicts, such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, did not ever receive official declarations of war from Congress. These unofficial wars were waged because President decided to take matters into his own hands by declaring war without the consent of Congress.
Today there is heated debate about whether or not the resident really has the power to declare war, especially now that President Obama is considering entering the conflict in Syria. Senator Justine Mash, for example, argued that the Presidential authorization of military action in Syria is “unquestionably unconstitutional and illegal. ” The original framers of the Constitution used divisions of power known as “checks and balances” to prevent one branch of government from overpowering another.
However, these divisions of power overlap when determining which branch of government has the final word on official declarations of war. This is a heated topic of debate for many US citizens and they are concerned as to how the conclusion may affect the carefully maintained checks and balances system. Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution states that Congress has the ability to declare war. However, it does not absolutely prevent the president from utilizing the same power.
John You, former official in the Bush Justice Department, made this argument when he pointed out that the Constitution “does not explicitly allocate the power to initiate military hostilities to a particular branch… ” The resident has very broad powers over the military, as outlined by the constitution and, You says, at times of war the decision to act or not must be made quickly and “calls for action and energy in execution. Alexander Hamilton once wrote that presidents should conduct war because they can act with “decision, activity, secrecy, and dispatch. ” While Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution gives the President the title of “commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States,” constitutional scholar Louis Fisher points out that it does not give the President the power to take intro of the military without the Congressional permission. He states that “Congress is the branch… Authorized to take the country from a state of peace to a state of war. While the president does have some power over the military, such as taking action to “repel sudden attacks” on the country, Fisher insists that the Constitution grants Congress, and not the President, the power to declare full-on war with another country. In his 2007 presidential campaign, President Obama himself stated that under the Constitution the president does not have the power to authorize an attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an immediate threat to ten Anton.
I personally agree with Fisher and believe that the President should not have total power over declarations of war. I think obtaining Congressional permission first is best for the Country. If the President has the ability to declare war on behalf of the United States, it is possible that he or she may do so for the wrong reasons, as some believe occurred with President Bush’s declaration of war with Iraq in 2003. However, here may be a resolution to this conflict: the War Powers Act.
Created in 1973, the War Powers Act allows the President to send troops into an opposing country for 90 days, after which time they must either obtain an official declaration of war from Congress or withdraw their troops. This gives the President the ability to send troops into a hostile country Just long enough for Congress to decide whether or not to officially declare war. In conclusion, there is currently heated debate over whether or not the President an declare war without an official declaration from Congress.
Some believe that allowing the president to declare war without Congressional consent would be beneficial because the decision could be carried out more easily if the President could declare war without first going through Congress. While others argue that the Constitution does not grant the President the right to declare war, and giving them that power could drag the United States meaningless conflicts.
A compromise could be taking advantage of the War Powers Act of 1973, which gives the president the ability send troops into hostile territory as long as they receive an official declaration of war from Congress within 90 days. This may satisfy both parties while keeping the system of checks and balances.