The preamble of the Constitution lays out six reasons for its establishment of which two reasons standout, the establishment of justice and providing for the common defense. The national security of the United States was of paramount importance to our founders and remains so today after over 200 years. While there is no clear answer on how to achieve security, our constitutional system of government provides the framework for seeking its ends. The Constitution itself, in its ambiguity and deliberate requirement for interpretation, along with the elements of division of power and the rule of law, play key roles in how our government provides the blanket of security for our nation. This paper will explore how these elements complement and contrast one another in providing our government leaders the tools to achieve national security.
The division of power is one of the most often cited principles of our constitutional system. For example, in terms of foreign policy, the Senate must provide advice and consent to the president when making treaties and appointments. Conversely, the constitution grants Congress the authority to declare war and provide the military funding while the President acts as the commander in chief of the armed forces. This sharing of power creates friction between the executive and legislative branches when they are in disagreement and “is an invitation to struggle for the privilege of directing American foreign policy”.
For our government to function it must be able to resolve the conflicts that arise as a result of this ‘struggle’. The rule of law is the principle that enables reconciliation and its primacy to the successful implementation of our government cannot be understated. Simply stated the rule of law asserts that no one individual or body is above the law. This concept was different from many European governments at the time of our constitutional drafting where kings themselves were the supreme law and not held accountable as their citizens might be. The United States Constitution specifically guards against the abuse of power: “this Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land.” Article III created the Supreme Court as the third branch of government to act as the final arbiter on laws and constitutional matters. The separation of power among the executive, legislative and judicial branches in addition to the ultimate rule of the constitution afford our government some of its greatest strengths, however those same qualities are not without their weaknesses.
The power vested in the President as the commander in chief is a powerful tool vital to our national security. In order to respond to national security threats both domestically and abroad our founders recognized the necessity to respond with rapid force and thus endowed...