Democratic Accountability and the Use of Force in International Law

By Charlotte Ku; Harold K. Jacobson | Go to book overview
Save to active project

The United States: democracy, hegemony,
and accountability

Michael J. Glennon

To the proverbial Martian who steps out of a flying saucer and asks what American law is concerning the use of force, the United States would represent a conundrum. Although its legal regime in this area is among the most elaborate on the planet, its political culture seems out of step with that regime. Its Constitution provides that war shall be declared by Congress–yet armed force has been used well over 200 times throughout its history, and in only five conflicts has Congress declared war. A law enacted following the Vietnam War, the War Powers Resolution, was aimed at restoring the “partnership” between Congress and the president in decisions to use armed force–yet armed force has been used even more frequently since its enactment, with Congress having approved such use only once, in connection with the Gulf War in 1991. The United States was one of the prime movers in establishing the United Nations and its collective security regime–and yet it led a massive bombing campaign at the end of the twentieth century that flouted that regime. What, the Martian might ask, is going on in this country?


The law governing use of force by the United States

The introduction of United States armed forces into hostilities is governed by a complicated mix of constitutional and statutory provisions. That regime is designed in part to render those who order and direct the use of force accountable to democratic control. Dissatisfaction with that regime has surfaced regularly, and proposals for enhanced accountability have been periodically advanced. From 1945 through the end of the Cold War, proponents of enhanced accountability focused periodically on the possibility that units of the armed forces could be committed to combat automatically upon the order of an international organization– the United Nations or a military alliance. During the Vietnam War and afterwards, the domestic political debate focused on the extent to which presidential power to make war should be reined in; that is, under what circumstances prior congressional approval should be required for the

-323-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Democratic Accountability and the Use of Force in International Law
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 440

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?