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August 03, 2021, 04:56:12 PM

War Powers Act

Started by Darth Fife, July 06, 2015, 12:58:05 AM

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Darth Fife

As I look back at the past 50 years or so, I can't help but notice what a mess our greedy political class has made of this world by their egregious miss-use of the War Powers Act. Korea, Vietnam, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iraq, Afghanistan - just to name a few.

Conservatives often speak of the value of National Sovereignty, as well we should. However, there are two sides to that coin! Other nations have their sovereignty too. How can it be legal, let alone, moral for the U.S. to send our armed forced into a foreign country to "kill people and break things" without a formal declaration of war against that country?

I might not be the sharpest pencil in the draw, but if you are bombing a country's cities, and killing its soldiers (and possibly civilians) that kind of sounds like "war" to me?

Since WWII every military "engagement" the U.S. has been involved in has been an elective military action - in that we were not directly attacked by a foreign power, and therefore, did not have to respond militarily.  These are not the kind of "wars" the War Powers Act was created to address. In fact, these are the very kinds of military engagements that I think should require a formal declaration of war by the U.S. Congress.

I think it is time to either recind, or heavily amend the War Powers Act.

Just my $.02 worth...

supsalemgr

Quote from: Darth Fife on July 06, 2015, 12:58:05 AM
As I look back at the past 50 years or so, I can't help but notice what a mess our greedy political class has made of this world by their egregious miss-use of the War Powers Act. Korea, Vietnam, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iraq, Afghanistan - just to name a few.

Conservatives often speak of the value of National Sovereignty, as well we should. However, there are two sides to that coin! Other nations have their sovereignty too. How can it be legal, let alone, moral for the U.S. to send our armed forced into a foreign country to "kill people and break things" without a formal declaration of war against that country?

I might not be the sharpest pencil in the draw, but if you are bombing a country's cities, and killing its soldiers (and possibly civilians) that kind of sounds like "war" to me?

Since WWII every military "engagement" the U.S. has been involved in has been an elective military action - in that we were not directly attacked by a foreign power, and therefore, did not have to respond militarily.  These are not the kind of "wars" the War Powers Act was created to address. In fact, these are the very kinds of military engagements that I think should require a formal declaration of war by the U.S. Congress.

I think it is time to either recind, or heavily amend the War Powers Act.

Just my $.02 worth...

You make some good points. The issue is congress wants no part of rescinding the War Powers Act. They like letting the president make the calls so they don't have to make a vote on declaring war if it does not go well.
"If you can't run with the big dawgs, stay on the porch!"

zewazir

A bit of history is needed for perspective. There were two War Powers Acts passed in response to the needs of WWII.  However, neither of those acts really have anything to do with undeclared conflicts since then.

The controversy of the authority of the president to authorize military activity outside of a declaration of war goes all the way back to the very beginnings of the Civil War.  Once President Lincoln became convinced that war was not avoidable (short of allowing the South to secede) he ordered southern ports blockaded by the navy. His action was immediately challenged in the Supreme Court as unconstitutional since war had yet to be declared by either side. SCOTUS ruled that the president, as CinC of the U.S. military has full authority to deploy military assets in any way he sees needed to meet emergency situations. Additionally, it is ALSO up to the president to define what constitutes an emergency worthy of military deployment.

This decision has been challenged several times since that ruling, and the ruling has always held up. Korea and Vietnam were fought under the precept that the president alone has the authority to respond to anything the president, alone, determines to be a threat to the U.S. or any of our allies.

The Korean War was the result of the U.S. forming a bilateral alliance in the wake of WWII. The intent of forming that alliance was to prevent what ended up happening anyway: invasion of South Korea by communist forces from North Korea and China.  Since an ally had been directly attacked, it was, in truth, incumbent on the U.S. to respond in defense of our ally. Under these conditions, congress SHOULD have declared war, but were afraid it would result in too many difficulties with both the Soviet Union, who had just developed nuclear weapons capability. Never the less, the U.S. entered into the war as the leader of a UN effort.

Vietnam was another story all together. It was all about the red scare, and the "need" for the U.S. to prove how we were willing to kill off a select portion of our youth to "stem the tide of communism".  Twice during the Vietnam War, members of congress challenged the authority of the president to conduct military engagements (the specific challenge was against bombing campaigns against North Vietnam). Twice SCOTUS upheld the president's authority to use military force against what the president, alone, determined to be a threat against the U.S. or any of our allies.

The War Powers Resolution of 1973 was enacted after Vietnam, and was not intended to increase authority for military use outside of declaration of war, but to LIMIT it. (Of course, it did not work... and if were ever to be seriously challenged, would probably be ruled unconstitutional.)  Acknowledging the modern reality that the president may have need to react literally within minutes of a foreign missile attack, the War Powers Act includes the authority of the President to deploy military forces against targets the president has determined to be a threat. But they added in the clause which states those deployments must be authorized by congress within 60 days of deployment or the President is supposed to order a withdrawal of U.S. forces over the following 30 days.  This has yet to actually take place, since U.S. forces were either withdrawn before the deadline (Grenada) or Congress ended up authorizing the use of force. For instance, in the first Gulf War, President Bush had already ordered deployment of U.S. forces in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, and then went to Congress for authorization - which he immediately received even before his deployments were in place.  In the Iraq War, Bush Jr. asked for and received authorization prior to deployment.

Now, one can (and SHOULD) ask why, if Congress has been willing to repeatedly authorize the use of military force, they did not go ahead and declare war. And the answer is, of course, the wishy-washy, namby-pamby, kumbaya-singing politics of the modern humanist progressives.  War is just so BAD, it is better just to bomb and shoot up foreign countries under the blanket of authorized military action than to go whole-hog and actually declare WAR on someone.

Darth Fife

The reasons Lincoln did not seek a formal declaration of war against the Confederacy were practical ones (on his part).

1. Half of the House of Representatives were missing! It would have been impossible to get a valid vote authorizing the war.

2. Even if he could have gotten a vote to authorize the war, declaring war on the Confederacy would be a tacit recognition of the C.S.A. existence as an independent nation! This might have been the very thing England needed to come into the war on the side of the Confederacy. 

zewazir

Quote from: Darth Fife on July 08, 2015, 04:03:40 AM
The reasons Lincoln did not seek a formal declaration of war against the Confederacy were practical ones (on his part).

1. Half of the House of Representatives were missing! It would have been impossible to get a valid vote authorizing the war.

2. Even if he could have gotten a vote to authorize the war, declaring war on the Confederacy would be a tacit recognition of the C.S.A. existence as an independent nation! This might have been the very thing England needed to come into the war on the side of the Confederacy.
Agreed on all points that Lincoln had very good reasons for avoiding declaration of war with respect to the Civil War.

But that does not change the fact that the end result is a long established history in which the CinC of the U.S. military has constitutional authority to deploy military assets without any associated declaration of war. Among the reasoning used to support the authority of the presidency is use of military and declaration of  The use of military force is, by definition, a military act, while the declaration of war is a political act.

Again, the SCOTUS decision which determined the use of military force does not have to be accompanied by a declaration of war has been challenged multiple times, aqnd each time the original determination has been upheld. The fact is the Constitution DOES make the president CinC over the military, and it does NOT limit that authority only to times of war.

I will also say that I, personally, am not entirely comfortable with so much power being in the hands of a single person - especially with nuclear weapons available.  But I can also see, and reluctantly agree with the reasoning of the Court - coming from a time when they actually compared the situation with what the Constitution SAYS, and not what they want it to mean.

Darth Fife

Quote from: zewazir on July 08, 2015, 11:59:29 AM
Agreed on all points that Lincoln had very good reasons for avoiding declaration of war with respect to the Civil War.

But that does not change the fact that the end result is a long established history in which the CinC of the U.S. military has constitutional authority to deploy military assets without any associated declaration of war. Among the reasoning used to support the authority of the presidency is use of military and declaration of  The use of military force is, by definition, a military act, while the declaration of war is a political act.

Again, the SCOTUS decision which determined the use of military force does not have to be accompanied by a declaration of war has been challenged multiple times, aqnd each time the original determination has been upheld. The fact is the Constitution DOES make the president CinC over the military, and it does NOT limit that authority only to times of war.

I will also say that I, personally, am not entirely comfortable with so much power being in the hands of a single person - especially with nuclear weapons available.  But I can also see, and reluctantly agree with the reasoning of the Court - coming from a time when they actually compared the situation with what the Constitution SAYS, and not what they want it to mean.

I agree. There needs to be a balance. If the Homeland is attacked, the President should have the ability to act first and get a declaration from Congress later (if there is a "later").

However, in the types of military actions I've listed - what I call elective wars - I think the President should be required, by law, to seek a formal declaration of war. 


zewazir

Quote from: Darth Fife on July 10, 2015, 02:56:23 AM
I agree. There needs to be a balance. If the Homeland is attacked, the President should have the ability to act first and get a declaration from Congress later (if there is a "later").

However, in the types of military actions I've listed - what I call elective wars - I think the President should be required, by law, to seek a formal declaration of war.
Again, agreed, with one modification: if an ally is attacked - whether you believe we should be involved with such alliances or not - we are obligated to act.

But elective wars - yes there should be the requirement of a declaration of war by congress. Perhaps if they had to grow a pair and go down that dirty road of actually declaring war, there would be fewer instances of our military men and women in harms way simply to make a political statement.  Sadly, it will take a constitutional amendment to legitimately add that requirement to military deployments. The War Powers Resolution (that which so many mislabel "War Powers Act") is neither a legitimate check on executive power, nor does it require congress to grow pair.

Darth Fife

Quote from: zewazir on July 10, 2015, 12:06:03 PM
Again, agreed, with one modification: if an ally is attacked - whether you believe we should be involved with such alliances or not - we are obligated to act.

ONLY if that particular "ally" is similarly required to come to our defense if we are attacked.

daidalos

Quote from: Darth Fife on July 06, 2015, 12:58:05 AM
As I look back at the past 50 years or so, I can't help but notice what a mess our greedy political class has made of this world by their egregious miss-use of the War Powers Act. Korea, Vietnam, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iraq, Afghanistan - just to name a few.

Conservatives often speak of the value of National Sovereignty, as well we should. However, there are two sides to that coin! Other nations have their sovereignty too. How can it be legal, let alone, moral for the U.S. to send our armed forced into a foreign country to "kill people and break things" without a formal declaration of war against that country?

I might not be the sharpest pencil in the draw, but if you are bombing a country's cities, and killing its soldiers (and possibly civilians) that kind of sounds like "war" to me?

Since WWII every military "engagement" the U.S. has been involved in has been an elective military action - in that we were not directly attacked by a foreign power, and therefore, did not have to respond militarily.  These are not the kind of "wars" the War Powers Act was created to address. In fact, these are the very kinds of military engagements that I think should require a formal declaration of war by the U.S. Congress.

I think it is time to either recind, or heavily amend the War Powers Act.

Just my $.02 worth...
You are factually incorrect. The liberation of Kuwait. After Saddam illegally invaded the nation, was legal. In fact the U.S. had a treaty obligation at play there.
One of every five Americans you meet has a mental illness of some sort. Many, many, of our veteran's suffer from mental illness like PTSD now also. Help if ya can. :) http://www.projectsemicolon.org/share-your-story.html
And no you won't find my "story" there. They don't allow science fiction. :)

daidalos

Quote from: Darth Fife on July 10, 2015, 02:56:23 AM
I agree. There needs to be a balance. If the Homeland is attacked, the President should have the ability to act first and get a declaration from Congress later (if there is a "later").

However, in the types of military actions I've listed - what I call elective wars - I think the President should be required, by law, to seek a formal declaration of war.
On December 7th 1941 we didn't. The President went to Congress and Got a declaration of war. Short of some sort of surprise nuclear attack, where we know that in about fifteen minutes a city will be gone. I can't think of any scenario where a President would need to do otherwise.
One of every five Americans you meet has a mental illness of some sort. Many, many, of our veteran's suffer from mental illness like PTSD now also. Help if ya can. :) http://www.projectsemicolon.org/share-your-story.html
And no you won't find my "story" there. They don't allow science fiction. :)