War Powers of the President and Congress: Who Holds the Arrows and Olive Branch?

War Powers of the President and Congress: Who Holds the Arrows and Olive Branch?

War Powers of the President and Congress: Who Holds the Arrows and Olive Branch?

War Powers of the President and Congress: Who Holds the Arrows and Olive Branch?

Excerpt

For nearly two centuries the war powers have bedeviled a host of Presidents, Congressmen, and those few judges willing to deal with them in court. Through all, the nature of these powers has remained more unsettled perhaps than any other mainstream of American constitutional law. New efforts to lessen the mystery, this book included, have come in the wake of the Indochina War.

Reminder that an author should be read "for his wheat, sorting out his chaff," is especially appropriate to these efforts. Thoughtful consideration of the war powers is difficult. They raise many complex issues. The information needed to resolve them is disturbingly varied and voluminous. Then, too, passions on war-power issues historically run high. Attempts to settle them are most often inspired by national trauma: a Civil War, a Versailles Treaty, or Vietnam.Thus, danger always exists of simplistic analyses centered on only a few of the pertinent questions, supported by congenial slivers of precedent, and given direction by a visceral reaction to the latest trauma. These inherent opportunities for error bear watching. The reader can proceed with the necessary caution if he knows where the author is going. The following introductory comments provide a road map and résumé.

Chapter I begins with a number of threshold questions. What exactly do we mean by the "war powers"? Who has tried to control them since the Constitution took effect in 1789? Why has controversy persisted over where control properly lies? And, do war-power issues have greater importance to the country's well-being now than ever before?

The chapter then narrows the focus from the war powers . . .

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