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War: Who Can Declare It? Essay

1166 words - 5 pages

If you are looking in the United States Constitution to find where it says the president has the power to declare war, you might be looking for a while. Those words were never written in the Constitution. The Constitution states that Congress has the power to declare war, “power to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules about captures on land or sea” (U.S. Constitution). Nevertheless, the last time Congress declared war was 1941 (WWII). I guess that is congressional acquiescence. We have been in several wars and conflicts since then. Who has “declared” or entered the United States into these wars? The president. September 11, 2001 was a tragic event, which never will be forgotten and changed the lives of many. Almost two years after that horrific day in history, President Bush declared war on Iraq. Four countries participated with troops during the initial invasion phase, which lasted from the 19th of March to the 9th of April 2003. These were the United States (148,000), United Kingdom (45,000), Australia (2,000), and Poland (194). Congress has the constitutional power to declare war; however, more often than not it is the president that has done so and abused his power as commander- in- chief.
If you ask American citizens why President Bush chose to invade Iraq in 2003 many would say because the September 11th attacks. “According to U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the coalition mission was "to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people” ( ). Dubbed George W. Bush’s war on terror, the invasion of Iraq challenged congress’ power to declare war. Furthermore, Bush made several unilateral decisions that were unconstitutional. “President Bush's war on terrorism and his desire to wage war on Iraq are testing the constitutional system of checks and balances. While many of Bush's actions appear within his authority as commander-in-chief, some unilateral decisions regarding prosecutions of terror suspects appear in conflict with existing laws” ( ).
According to the Bush administration their actions were warranted due to the rare threat of terrorism towards the United States. Consequently, they felt as though they could combat a treacherous enemy by stretching the powers of the president. Because the war on terror is so fluid it is making congress think of ways to gain their constitutional power back. “The administration says the unusual nature of the terrorist threat justifies the aggressive stance, arguing it needs maximum flexibility to confront a dangerous enemy. But given the open-ended nature of the war on terrorism, many lawmakers are contemplating how to regain institutional clout” ( ). The Constitution clearly creates a separation of powers to stop the president from going off on foreign escapades without the express consent of congress. The Iraq discussion echoed the tense state of...

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