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

By Donald L. Westerfield | Go to book overview

sentative Stephen Solarz during those hearings, Representative Solarz seemed to capture the essence of presidential reporting under the War Powers Resolution by observing, "So far as I can recall, no president in the last fifteen years has ever submitted a notification clearly and unequivocally triggering that requirement [Section 4(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution]. In the absence of presidential compliance with that provision of the law, we end up in a sort of legal and constitutional 'no man's land,' and nobody seems to think the clock is running. If you try to go to court, as Mr. Weiss and other Members have, you run into problems of standing and political questions."28 Representative Solarz could make the same statement today. Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Bill Clinton have used the same phrase, "consistent with the War Powers Resolution," instead of specifically triggering the resolution.

The following two chapters of this book are a departure from the first seven chapters. Since none of the literature has placed the consultation between Congress and the executive in a time line for a given operation, it is hard to judge whether the timing and content of consultation has satisfied the spirit of the War Powers Resolution and the spirit of good faith. Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm have all of the elements of a full-scale "defensive turned offensive" operation requiring U.S. armed forces. We will use that conflict to observe and evaluate whether consultation was timely, informative, and offered in the spirit of complying with the moral obligations of the War Powers Resolution.


NOTES
1.
U.S. House of Representatives, "The Crisis in Somalia: Markup on S.J. Res. 45--Authorizing the Use of U.S. Armed Forces in Somalia," Hearing before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, 103rd Cong., 1st Sess., May 5, 1993 ( Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1993). See especially the opening statements of Hon. Toby Roth and Hon. Donald M. Payne. (Hereafter in this chapter, this document will be referred to as "The Crisis in Somalia.") Allison Graham , Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis ( Boston: Little, Brown, 1971); Dan Caldwell, "A Research Note on the Quarantine of Cuba, October 1962," International Studies Quarterly XXII ( December 1978): 625-633; Jimmy Carter, Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President ( New York: Bantam Books, 1982); Ronald Elving, "America's Most Frequent Fight Has Been the Undeclared War," Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 49:1 ( January 5, 1991): 37-39; George Church, "Trip Wires to War: What Would It Take for the U.S. to Attack Iraq, and How Would Bush Square the Decision with the U.N. and Congress?" Time ( October 29, 1990): 48-51; David Detzer, The Brink: Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 ( New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1979).

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