The National War Powers Consultation Act
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
Ever hear of something called “The National War Powers Commission”? Well, it was put together by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. It is billed as a private, non-partisan, panel led by former US Secretaries of State James A. Baker, III and Warren Christopher. It is said the commission will examine how the Constitution allocates the powers of beginning, conducting, and ending war.
From our perspective (as a lowly American citizen) this is just another way of getting “creative” with the US Constitution because there are elements within our government that do not like the Constitution, especially in it’s original form, and are determined to change it. All the flowery language aside, they are screwing around with the balance of power in the US government.
There is an interesting article by William Matthews entitled “Congress Mulls War-Powers Overhaul” at the “Defense News” site. We recommend it to you. You will find it HERE.
So, what have they proposed that has my ire pulsing a bright red? A number of things, but first and foremost… they chose to ignore the clear, plain, language of the US Constitution. There is no ambiguity in the Constitution’s bestowing upon the Congress the power to declare war. Period. The President can ASK for a declaration of war… but he does not have the constitutional power to declare this country at war, period. Along comes the so-called National War Powers Consultation Act and, suddenly, the office of the President is dragged into the decision to declare war. That is clearly unconstitutional. The President is given only the power to command the armed forces in a war, which has been declared, FIRST, by the Congress. Nothing could be clearer.
I ask you, what is so hard about reading the constitution and understanding what it says in plain English? I do not understand it! Ever since the 2nd Amendment was ratified Americans have had the right to keep and bear arms, but… just a short time ago 4 out of the 9 Supreme Court Justices didn’t think Americans had that right… even though The Constitution plainly says that we do. Now comes this abomination, which totally ignores the constitution and decides that Congress doesn’t have the sole power to declare war but must share that power with the executive branch, the office of the Commander-in-Chief. It’s another attempt at an end run around the constitution and it ought to be shot down immediately.
We have had four wars since World War Two and the Congress could not drag up enough courage to declare war. I suppose we Americans are expecting too much of our Congress when we ask them to show a little courage and leadership.
Oh, and allow me to remind you that the Congress of the US approved the invasion of Iraq! It is a matter of record. And that is as close as they are ever likely to come, again, to declaring war on another country.
One must remember that even though the Founding Fathers had no telephones, telegraphs, e-mail, faxes, or text messaging, the first Congress of the US was much more in touch with the people of the United States than the current Congress. Understand, the original idea was that the Congress would maintain a link with their constituents, so they would always know the people’s feelings about the direction of the country. But recent congresses have seen fit to cut themselves off from their constituents. With no term limits on their time in office we have created a “ruling class”, for all intents and purposes, unanswerable to the American people. The power to declare war was bestowed upon the Congress because The Founders felt that link to the people would always be there -- more so than with the office of the President.
Declaring war is quite likely the most daunting decision a Congressperson or a Senator will make while in office. Since World War Two the Congress has been running from that responsibility. The War Powers Consultation Act would give the Congress one more fig leaf to hide behind, and it would do nothing to aid the country in time of crisis. It should be tossed out… the sooner the better!
J. D. Longstreet