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

By Donald L. Westerfield | Go to book overview

Finally, Senator Gale McGee, in his testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Senate, reiterates the increasing importance of the executive agreement as a direct relationship with the rising power of America as a world leader: 18

without exception the trend toward a stronger and stronger executive role in foreign policy has coincided with the rising preeminence of the United States in world politics during the 20th century. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson expanded that role materially. But the most significant changes have occurred since the beginning of World War II. Under President Franklin Roosevelt the use of the executive agreements experienced a sharp increase. In particular his commitments to the transfer of destroyers for bases, the extension of the Monroe Doctrine principle to Iceland and Greenland, and the "shoot on sight" edict to American naval forces in the Atlantic are often cited.

The president, as the voice of the people, can obtain support for his actions during an attack on what are thought to be American interests. The notion of giving assistance to a small nation in distress is part of the fabric of the American culture and sense of fair play. The conflict in responding to these situations, however, is that they raise questions such as these: How much and what type of assistance should the president provide on his own authority before he consults with and actively seeks the advice and consent of Congress? Can Congress expect that the executive will be able to predict when a provision of assistance or humanitarian aid to a requesting nation can lead to acts of war involving the United States?


NOTES
1.
Constitution of the United States of America, Articles I, II, and VI; Francis Wilcox , and Richard Frank, eds., The Constitution and the Conduct of Foreign Policy: An Inquiry by a Panel of the American Society of International Law ( New York: Praeger, 1976); Francis Wilcox, Congress, the Executive and Foreign Policy ( New York: Harper & Row, 1971); "Congress, the President, and the Power to Commit Forces to Combat," note, Harvard Law Review 81 ( June 1968): 1771-1805; Barry Goldwater, "President's Ability to Protect America's Freedom--the Warmaking Power," Law and Social Order 2 ( 1971): 423-449; Norman Graebner , "The President as Commander in Chief: A Study in Power," Journal of Military History 57:1 ( January 1993): 111-132; Ludwell John III, "Abraham Lincoln and the Development of Presidential War-Making Powers: Prize Cases," Civil War History ( September 1989): 208-224.
2.
Max Farrand, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, Vol. 2, rev. ed., passim ( New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1937); Edward Corwin, The President: Office and Powers 1787-1957 ( New York: New York University

-57-

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