Gary M. Stern and Morton H. Halperin
This book examines the "war powers" of the President and Congress in light of the end of the Cold War. After 45 years, the principal motivator of U.S. foreign policy abruptly disappeared. But the dissolution of the Soviet Union did not mean that the United States would no longer be fighting wars; indeed, just as the U.S.S.R. was taking its final gasps, the United States amassed and engaged the largest military force since World War II when it attacked Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Nor did the end of the superpower rivalry give the United States a green light to initiate wars without any fear of international recrimination; rather, the United Nations has begun to emerge as a control on international military action. These factors thus compel a new look at a very old subject.
The drafters of the Constitution understood the critical importance of the decision to go to war. They recognized that war and the government's fear of foreign enemies posed a threat to individual liberty here at home. They also believed that in a democratic nation, the decision to go to war should be preceded by public debate and should only be made if there was a consensus in support of the use of force. At the same time, they recognized that the President had to be able to act decisively in genuine emergencies.
The War Clause represents their effort to incorporate these goals into the governmental structure. It hinges the decision to go to war on the cooperation of both political branches, which must act on the public record, yet allows the President to respond militarily to immediate threats to the nation and grants him or her full command authority. In this way it sought to cure the defects experienced under both the British monarchy and the Continental Congress.
During the Cold War, the government assumed that these principles could no longer be applied in the face of a potentially overwhelming adversary "whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost."1 On this rather newfound rationale, Presidents took the nation into armed combat with no intention of seeking prior congressional approval; they also used the