The Power to Declare War Essay

1246 Words Dec 3rd, 2011 5 Pages
The Power to Declare War

Ritwik Ravin

Poltical Science
Mrs. Mooney
December 13, 2010

Ricky Ravin, Mrs. Mooney The Power to Declare War Congress and the president use their powers to check and balance each other. One power of Congress is the ability to declare war. However, Congress generally gives the president control during war time. Because of this, the president is able to acquire more power over the war while Congress can do little if they have already given their approval. After the Vietnam War, in which Presidents Johnson and Nixon continued to wage despite a divided Congress[i]; they decided that the Constitution did not warrant the president to have the power to declare war, so they passed the War
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Prior to the War Powers Act, President Harry Truman, rather than seek Congressional declaration, used his constitutional power as commander in chief to commit troops to the Korean War. Congress had no say in whether this war would be fought. Along with this, the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon the power to “take all necessary measures … to prevent further aggression[iv].” This gave the presidents complete control over the war despite the Congresses eventual division, who could do nothing about it. These incidents caused Congress to decide that the Framers did not intend for the president to have this kind of war making power, so they passed the War Powers Act on November 7th, 1973, right after the Vietnam War. The War Powers Act was explicitly meant to limit presidential powers during war time, but it has failed to do so. The ninety day limit has never been followed and while 99 reports have been submitted to Congress because of the Resolution, the reports are simply to inform, rather than consult with Congress, after a planned action is already under way. During the presidential reign of Gerald Ford, the United States was involved with six military crises: the rescue of U.S. citizens and refugees in Vietnam after the war, the rescue of the Mayaguez, and two evacuation operations in Lebanon. The War Powers Act was not applied in any of these situations, and it’s relevancy in military

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