By Chris Rossini
When the U.S. Constitution was drafted, the delegates were very specific on how the U.S. should legally go to war. They knew from history that the worst mistake a nation can make is to allow one man, or the executive, to have the ability to declare war.
Here are some quotes from some names that you may recognize:
"In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the executive magistrate. Constant apprehension of war, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force with an overgrown executive will not long be safe companions to liberty…Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people."
"The Constitution vests the power of declaring war with Congress. Therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure."
"This system will not hurry us into war. It is calculated to guard against it. It will not be in the power of a single man or a single body of men to involve us in such distress, for the important power of declaring war is vested in the legislature at large. This declaration must be made with the concurrence of the House of Representatives. In this circumstance, we may draw the certain conclusion that nothing but our interest can draw us into war."
The war powers law of the U.S. Constitution would be followed until World War II. Congressmen had to put their name on wars. If things when went wrong, their name was on it, and voters knew where to point fingers.
This setup (though not perfect) acted as a brake. Well, needless to say, those in power don't like brakes, especially presidents.
So today, and ever since World War II, the U.S. Constitution has been ignored when it comes to declaring war. As a result, we're now dragged from one foreign policy disaster to another, all on a presidential whim. Congressmen can play the "don't blame me card" as well.
Just yesterday, the New York Times reported that the new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has this view on Congress declaring war:
Mr. Ryan, while sympathetic to the argument that Congress has a responsibility to weigh in on military action abroad, told Mr. Thornberry and others that voting to authorize war was something very few members of Congress wanted to do.
"Sympathetic to the argument"? Congress must declare war by law!
Apparently, "very few members" are interested in it. The President declaring war on his own over the last 70 years has become the new tradition.
Sadly, as James Madison warned, Americans are being marched "under the pretext of defending" into being yet another group of people in history to be "enslaved" by their government.
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