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

By Donald L. Westerfield | Go to book overview

Foreword

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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