Presidential War Powers Essay

1964 words - 8 pages

Throughout history politicians and scholars alike have hotly debated the interpretation of the United States Constitution. This debate has been going on since the founding of the constitution up to modern day America. One of the more intriguing debates is that of the powers given to the president of the United States in article 2 of the constitution. More specifically, the power given to the president proclaiming him the commander in chief of the United States armed forces. This abundance of power comes with great affect, making the president the ultimate decision maker to decide whether or not to put American troops in harms way. Yes, many times in the past presidents have put troops into ...view middle of the document...

S. military involvement is necessary without the approval of congress.The title "Commander in Chief" given to the president does not go without meaning. In other words it is not an "empty title." The solution to the conflict between congress and the president can be found within the words of the constitution. The president has sole responsibility of commanding the U.S. armed forces. Among others to be named later, congress has the sole responsibility to declare war. There is no gray area between the two distinctions. However, time and time again congress has tried to slowly chip away at presidential war powers. It would take a novel to look at every time congress has tried to limit the presidents war powers so lets look at the most recent and blatant attempt; The War Powers Act of 1973.Under the War Powers Act "the president would be required whenever feasible, to consult with congress before sending American forces into armed conflict. He was also to report the circumstances necessitating the action; the constitutional, legislative, and treaty provisions authorizing the action, together with his reasons for not seeking prior congressional authorization; and the estimated scope of activities (Fisher p1)." Congress did not stop there; they set a time limit for how long U.S. troops could engage in conflict without their direct consent. Even more, the U.S. Armed Forces could only be used in three situations: first, to deter an armed attack on the United States, it's territories and possessions, retaliate in the event of such an attack, and forestall the direct and imminent threat of such an attack. Second, repel an attack on armed forces located outside the U.S.; and third, to rescue endangered American citizens (Fisher p1, 2). These limitations set upon the president by congress will have a negative and deterring effect on the "War on Terrorism" (the Bush administrations number one priority). These types of checks and balances are not what the founders had in mind by separating the branches of government.The writers and founders of the constitution knew from past experience and the revolution itself congress would not be able to run or fight a war effectively. They left those powers specifically to the executive branch. Could you imagine 535 legislators trying to agree on what to do after September 11, 2001? Yes, I know initially after a crisis everyone agrees. But what happens later? Everyone starts to bash the president because it's taking to long or costing to much. The president would go crazy if he heard everyone's complaint. In times of crisis the president must have complete discretion as to what steps must be taken if any to defend the country. Meaning he or she should not have (it would be nice of him or her if they did) to consult with 500 plus people and take suggestions. Isn't that what the American people hired the president to do, speak for us, act for us, and make decisions on our behalf? Former White House spokesman Ari Fleisher...

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