“The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.”
July 20th marks an important event in United States history; it is the anniversary of the day that the War Powers Resolution passed the Senate in 1973. I believe some of our “kings” in Washington could use a little reminder of what this Resolution does. You can check it out here:
The War Powers Resolution is a federal law that was enacted to “check” the power of the President. It’s a “joint resolution” which allows the President to send armed forces into action abroad ONLY by the authorization of Congress, or in case of a “national emergency” caused by an attack upon the United States, its territories, possessions, or forces.
If you know your Constitution, this is a bit of a no-brainer, but it seems that some folks need a bit of a refresher. War powers are divided under our Constitution…Congress has the power to declare war, raise and support the forces, and to provide funding for those forces. (Article 1, Section 8). The President is commander-in-chief of the military. (Article 1, Section 2) Now, it’s generally agreed that the President, as the “leader” of the military, has the power to repel attacks upon our soil and to “lead” the troops in combat. ( I have to chuckle at that one; I really have a hard time seeing Obama addressing the troops in the field without his trusty teleprompter.)
Now, during the Korean and Vietnam wars, we found ourselves embroiled in many situations without an actual declaration of war. Congress decided that they needed to address this, as the Constitution delegated this power to them, rather than to the executive branch. Thus, the War Powers Resolution was born. It was passed by both the House and the Senate, but vetoed by sitting President Richard Nixon. Congress overrode the veto and enacted the joint resolution into law in November of 1973.
So, why bring it up now? Well, the executive branch has done its share of shady things in the wake of the first Gulf War. Under Clinton, war powers became an issue in dealing with Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Haiti. On several occasions in 1993 and 1994, President Clinton reported U.S. forces “helping” NATO enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions concerning Bosnia-Hercegovina. On October 20, 1993, President Clinton reported sending warships to help enforce a U.N. embargo against Haiti. In 1994, U.S. forces were sent to Rwanda to help with relief efforts. Clinton also ordered U.S. forces to deploy missiles against Iraqi military installations without congressional approval in 1996.
My husband was actually in the Navy, aboard the U.S.S. America, off the coast in the Adriatic in 1994-1995 . It’s interesting to me to read that CV-66 was there supporting the “peacekeeping” efforts of the United Nations: apparently the U.N.’s “peacekeeping” consisted of sending out planes loaded with bombs into Bosnia and bringing them back empty. Another reason not to involve ourselves with the U.N.’s particular brand of “pacification.” My husband was involved in Haiti as well, though they didn’t bomb, only observed and dropped off S.E.A.L.teams. The big bad U.S. Navy were in the bay while the “Haitian Navy” floated around them…on rafts with sheets for sails.
(The U.S.S. America in Haiti, courtesy of Scott Housey)
Fast forward to the G.W. Bush administration, and his response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Some feel that this action was justified; however, it was another issue…it wasn’t until October 2002 that Congress gave the okay for “force as necessary” against Iraq.
May 20 of last year marked day 60 of U.S. involvement in Libya. While the former could be said to be justified, most Americans had no idea why we were in Libya in the first place. Obama took his arrogance one step further by announcing to Congress that “no authorization was needed.” On June 3, 2011, Congress voted to rebuff Obama’s determination to maintain U.S. presence in the N.A.T.O. operations in Libya.
These actions bring another question to mind: who is our military serving? The United States of America, or the United Nations and N.A.T.O? Were these conflicts and foreign wars in the “best interest” of the United States, or kowtowing to other organizations for gain?
So, here we have the last three Presidents sending troops without a declaration of war and violating not only the War Powers Resolution, but the Constitution itself. Republicans tend to be vehemently against this sort of blatant disregard of our Constitution, so that will change under Mitt Romney, right?
We could never be more wrong. On Face the Nation in June, Mitt flat-out admitted that he would not seek congressional approval to go to war with Iran. Rather than pontificate further, I’ll let the man’s words speak for themselves:
“I can assure you if I’m president, the Iranians will have no question but that I will be willing to take military action if necessary to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world. I don’t believe at this stage, therefore, if I’m president that we need to have a war powers approval or special authorization for military force. The president has that capacity now. I understand that some in the Senate for instance have written letters to the president indicating you should know that a containment strategy is unacceptable. We cannot survive a course of action which would include a nuclear Iran we must be willing to take any and all actions.” Mitt Romney
Clearly, a man who needs to read the War Powers Resolution for content. When did the President gain that power, Mitt? Go ahead, we’ll wait.
Ron Paul, the other Republican contender, has a very different view when it comes to war with Iran and war in general:
”Maybe we ought to consider a Golden Rule in foreign policy: Don’t do to other nations what we don’t want happening to us. We endlessly bomb these countries and then we wonder why they get upset with us?” Ron Paul
Here’s another, from 2008:
”I’m saying we should take our marching orders from the Constitution. We should not go to war, we should not go to war without a declaration. We should not go to war when it’s an aggressive war.” Ron Paul
Here’s the burning question: if we want to support our country, stay true to our Constitution, and uphold the War Powers Resolution, where does our vote go? To the incumbent, who sent troops to Libya without a declaration of war and told Congress it “wasn’t necessary”? To the guy who says that he will absolutely take us into another foreign war with Iran without congressional approval? Or to the man who says that not only should we obey our Constitution, but maybe we should mind our own business and not go to war at all?
I know who has my vote.
“I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”