War Powers: The President, the Congress, and the Question of War

War Powers: The President, the Congress, and the Question of War

War Powers: The President, the Congress, and the Question of War

War Powers: The President, the Congress, and the Question of War

Synopsis

This study provides a balanced and scholarly analysis of the war powers controversy, a controversy as old as the Constitution and as current as the conflicts in the Persian Gulf and the Balkans. The work examines the debates among the Founding Fathers, Congressional and United Nations resolutions, communications between the Executive and Congress, as well as other issues surrounding the use of military force in foreign conflicts. The author considers the impact on the war powers controversy of the ways in which warfare has changed: from conventional to electronic and from major ground force actions to swift air strikes and rapid response troop deployments. Particularly relevant is the author's examination of war powers in the present time of overall world peace but sporadic regional conflict, the context in which the struggle between Congress and the Executive over war-making limits and constraints continues. This work will be of interest to scholars and students alike in American government, politics, and military studies.

Excerpt

Donald H. Rumsfeld

The war powers controversy is as old as our Constitution and as recent as the most recent use of U.S. armed forces in a conflict abroad. The division of power between the legislative and the executive branches of our government was not perfectly spelled out in the Constitution. Wisely, perhaps, our Founding Fathers left it up to Congress and the executive to work out any differences between the "spirit and the letter of the law."

This work by Dr. Donald Westerfield has provided a balanced and scholarly perspective on the war powers controversy. His presentation and analysis of debates among the Founding Fathers, congressional and United Nations resolutions, communications between the executive and Congress, and issues surrounding the use of military force in foreign conflicts are both interesting and insightful. Scholars, historians, and students of law and the Constitution will benefit from this work.

My own experience in the U.S. Congress and service with three presidents in a variety of posts, including NATO, the White House, and the Department of Defense, allowed me to observe, in the most intimate manner, how the president, his staff, and cabinet officers consult with Congress on the use of armed forces in foreign conflict situations. These experiences have led me to appreciate how Congress feels a need for closer communication with the president before troops and military resources are deployed in a foreign conflict. Equally, I appreciate how and why the president feels that, as chief executive and as commander in chief of the armed forces, he must act quickly and decisively to protect U.S. national interests.

Dr. Westerfield rightly points out that the War Powers Resolution grew out of a perception by Congress that the powers delegated to President . . .

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