Congress Role in War Making Term Paper

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Congress Role in War Making

War has become a part of the human world. When we understand the events from the past to the present, for the purpose of dealing with conflicts, human beings have been pampered with weapons. Even though war has become an element of human custom, it has always been seen that efforts have always been made to control the outcome of war and the techniques employed in carrying forward the war. These efforts made to control the outcome of war has resulted in deciding the factors in the western civilization as to what should be the methods to be adopted to conduct the war and the proper time for carrying forward the war. In the case of America, the decision of which wing of government should make war has been a matter of dispute. There are several experts who are of the opinion that the president of USA occupies powers, which have exceeded their limits, and overrides the Congress than what was actually expected of the role of the office of the President by the framers of the Constitution.

Have we allowed the president to exceed his bounds for war making? If so, have those excesses now become institutionalized?

There are several who have opinions that the excessive role of the U.S. presidents over the years would threaten the stability and integrity of democracy intended in the U.S. The President is authorized to safeguard, shield and protect the Constitution of the United States and his responsibilities include implementing the laws passed by the Congress, acting as Commander-in-Chief to suppress disorder or curb revolt, appointing federal judges and settling foreign agreements. Presidents have always been under intimate public assessment even before radio and television made a president's every move the subjects of international attention. They have confronted violent partisan attacks by opposing politicians, citizens and journalists exercising the American traditions of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Thomas Jefferson's description of the president's office as a splendid misery shows the meaning of being president.

Article 1 section 8 of the Constitution states that the all the powers to make all kinds of laws, which includes both the powers of making laws for itself, but also for the other departments rests with the Congress. 1 The Congress is also vested with the power of carrying out the laws into effect by the Constitution. The U.S. constitution also states that the President, who is the Commander-in-Chief has the right being conferred to introduce the U.S. forces into situations of war or to situations of hostility depends upon the particular circumstances namely, in the event of a war, when particular statues are to be authorized, or in the event of emergency of national importance declared by the U.S. As a result of being attacked by another country. Sec. 1542 states further that the President of United States shall in all circumstances have consultations with the Congress where the question at hand is to promote the Armed forces of U.S. into environments where hostility exists or in those environments where hostility is supposed to happen. The section further advises the President to seek consultations from the Congress when the armed forces of U.S. are to be brought back or in situations where they no longer need to be engaged in situations of hostility. 2

1.Erwin C. Hargrove and Roy Hoopes. "The Presidency: A Question of Power." Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1975, p.32

2. Mary Mostert. "Making Sense In a Senseless World of Bombing Friends and Protecting Enemy Spies: A Military Target to Bill Clinton, Like the Word 'Sex' and 'Is' Has Been Redefined," Original Sources, May 25, 1999, p.7

But Alexander Hamilton, who was President Washington's Secretary of the Treasury, was of the opinion that the office of the President held powers, which were inherent, even though these powers had not been granted by or written down in the Constitution by its framers. The later Presidents started to indulge in expanding their powers and during the beginning of the twentieth century President Roosevelt had increased his powers to a great extent. According to Roosevelt his opinion was that the office of the President was such that it had a direct connection with the people of America. So he used his office of the President to the extent of gaining support for his actions from the people of America. 3

With the help of the powerful medium of the media, Roosevelt tried to gain public attention as well as by way of publications, he tried to influence the public opinion. But it should be understood that it was Woodrow Wilson, who had greatly influenced the office of the President and changed the face of the President's office from that which was completely devoid of public opinion to one, which tried to seek the approval and attention of the public. Woodrow Wilson was again the first President of USA to have press conferences on a regular basis to promote his opinion to the people via the media. Wilson was not only the President who understood what the public wanted, but was also in a position to convey them to his people. The conducting of press conferences was seen by Wilson as a way to attain the confidence of the public for his policies. 4

3.Forrest, McDonald. The American Presidency: An Intellectual History. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1994, p. 45

4. Richard Neustadt, Presidential power: The politics of leadership, New York: Wiley, 1960, p.23

Although he was in support of the parliamentary system of government Woodrow Wilson had to leave his motive for amending the Constitution to adopt a system similar to the British model. Wilson on the other hand favored for providing greater powers to the U.S. president by means of re-analyzing and re-interpreting the U.S. constitution. According to him the Constitution should be a means of reflecting the ideas of the future public of America. According to him, his actions were not intended at bringing about the concept of direct form of democracy. What he opted for was to bring about coordination between the people, the president and the legislature. His most striking contribution was of his intention that it should be the President who should hold the leadership of the party of the President in the Congress. 5

Thus one could witness an increase in the powers of the office of the President during the period of Wilson. There are several people who are of the opinion that the U.S. President holds the most powerful office in the world. The powerful positions held by the office of the U.S. President can also be witnessed in the case of Kennedy and Johnson who had dispatched the U.S. Armed forces to Vietnam without the permission of the Congress and without the Congress declaring war. 6

5. Victoria A. Farrar-Myers, "Transference of Authority: The Institutional Struggle Over the Control of the War Power," Congress & the Presidency, Vol. 25, No. 2, Autumn 1998, p. 192.

6. Thomas M. Franck, "Rethinking War Powers: By Law or by 'Thaumaturgic Invocation'?" The American Journal of International Law, Vol. 83, Issue 4, October 1989, p. 768

In 1933 when Roosevelt came to office, the foreign policy was also influenced, with his support and cooperation being granted during World War II to the Allied powers. During the World War Roosevelt engaged in entering into several agreements with the Allied powers without the support of the Congress. Like Roosevelt during World War II, Lyndon B. Johnson got hit under the Tonkin Gulf resolution. Again it was President Nixon who had initiated the pattern that without the approval of the Congress the President had the powers to allot Armed forces and weapons in any part of the world. 7

Today the U.S. president occupies considerable dominance in matters of foreign policy, and the trend started by these presidents have continued to this day. Without seeking the support of the Congress, President Bill Clinton had launched the war on Yugoslavia during his period. This was considered to be a war of little importance. Though splendid in nature, since the war was being called off after a few days, it had greatly extended the powers of the President. We have seen how the earlier Presidents have used the media as a means of translating their policies into public approval, and they had used the press conferences to spread messages which were decent, and which were clear in translating the ideas of the government to the people.

7. Richard Neustadt, "Presidential power: The politics of leadership," New York: Wiley, 1960, p.52

We can see that recent Presidents like Clinton used public opinion in a variety of cases as a means of overriding the Congress and by trying to get the public support decisions made by the legislative wing was sought to be ignored. The Founders were of the opinion that a president who would be strong would pose as a danger to the system if the public or the…[continue]

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