War Powers Essay

1316 words - 5 pages

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).
During the oath ceremony, members of the Armed forces as well as Department of Defense civilians pledge to uphold the Constitution, the President, and those officers who serve above them. Article I Section II of the Constitution gives the President the title “Commander and Chief,” which places him at the head of the military Chain of Command. It is this military supremacy, according to the Justice Department, which allows the President to act and make decisions regarding the military. Unlike its counterpart, however, the United states refrained from vesting the power to initiate war exclusively to the Executive branch. Instead, the Constitution grants Congress the powers to declare war, provide for armed forces, and pass legislation to authorize military action against another nation as done in the recent War against Afghanistan in 2001. While Congress has the ultimate authority to declare war; an authority determined constitutional during the quasi-wars, the President has been given the power to “behave in war-like behavior as long as it looks like war,” a power afforded by the Prize cases of 1863. Following the former, the War Powers Resolution outlined the powers of the President more strictly in regards to war powers. While the Resolution requires the President to notify and seek approval from Congress for sending troops to a region and embarking in war, it allows the President to initiate without consent. This, has led to numerous exercises by the President to stretch this power to its full extent, not only during invasion but also in regards to special powers during war.
After the Prize cases of 1863, the Executive exercised it’s power to act war-like in situations that looked like war in various regions throughout the globe. However, Congress soon
became concerned with the abuse of this power, particularly those executed by former Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon (288). This concern emerged during the Vietnam and Korean wars when the United States was in great conflict with the nations without a formal Declaration of War by Congress. In an effort to limit the President’s power, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution which created guidelines for the executive during times of conflict. The Resolution requires the President to notify Congress of his intentions to commit forces. However, the President must withdraw forces within 60 days unless Congress declares war, gives special authorization,...

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