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Pro & Con #7: Must Presidents Have the Initiative in War-Making?

In this hypothetical example, Andy McFearless, the Republican President, won the 2020 election. President McFearless feared the rise of Iran’s nuclear strength. Since he feared this rise of Iran’s nuclear strength and with the attack on the American oil tankers, Mr. President McFearless decided to declare war without congressional authority. However, his declaration of war was knocked down by Secretary of Defense Aiden MacArthur and other congressmen because it was unconstitutional under Article 1.

This fictional example brings up a very good question, “Must Presidents have the initiative in war-making?” This answer is simply no because only Congress holds the power to declare war. This view has several benefits. First, the constitution says Congress shall declare war. Second, conflict rarely breaks out without warning. Third, consultation with Congress is still required. However, some consequences against this view exist. First, modern conflicts happen too fast for debate. Second, U.S interests are engaged globally. Third, international agreements contain security commitments. Despite the consequences of Congressional power to declare war, it prevents the United States to enter a war too quickly and helps Congress decide the War resolutions. Therefore, I am resolved that Congress is the only one who holds the power to declare war because of three reasons. First, the Constitution says congress shall declare war. Second, conflict rarely breaks out without warning. Third, consultation with Congress is still required.

First, the Constitution says Congress shall declare war. Article 1, Section 8 states that “the Congress shall have the Power…to declare War.” To avoid tyranny of Congress or tyranny of Commander-in-Chief, the framers of the constitution set up a separation of powers to ensure that United States Government can be accountable to its citizens. The separation of powers is divided into three parts; the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judiciary. Fearing that the Executive Branch would abuse his or her power to declare war, the framers of the Constitution decided to give that power to declare war to Congress. Miksha (2003) found that “Congress is an integral part in the war powers design in our limited, constitutional government.” For these reasons, the framers instituted a clause in the United States that ensured that Congress has the power to declare war, not the president. This is found in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. It states “Congress shall have the power…to declare war.” Therefore, it would be unconstitutional for the President to declare war.

Second, conflict rarely breaks without warning. For example, the Iranian conflict with United States was escalating for nearly a decade. A Fox New report, done by the fox news radio network, indicated that the problem with Iran originated when Former President Obama ordered a U.S. navy vessel to escort the oil tankers in the Strait of Homuz. This escort occurred in 2015. When this happened, it ensured that Iran couldn’t do any harm to the oil tankers in the Strait of Homuz. After this, tension escalated even further. With this escalation in tension with Iran, Former President Obama diplomatically approached Iran by instituting the Iran Nuclear Deal (I.N.D for short). I.N.D was never enforced in Iran. News Media showed some reports that indicated Iran was still stockpiling uranium and building nuclear weapons. This just based on presumptions. No-one knows hundred percent. Nevertheless, President Trump withdrew from I.N.D. After POTUS withdrew from I.N.D, the tension with Iran started to escalate. The tension raised so much that Iran bombed the oil tankers on the Strait of Homuz near the Gulf of Oman. Iran accuses President Trump of being a warmonger, but it actually started with Iran attacking oil tankers, sending a missile to Saudi Arabia injuring at least 26 people, and finally trying to blow up two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. With these three undiplomatic approaches from Iran, President Trump, with the Pentagon’s approval, sent 1,000 troops to Middle East for defensive purposes. For this reason, the Iranian conflict with the United States has been escalating for nearly a decade. Hence, the reason for the claim that conflicts rarely breaks without warning.

Since conflict rarely breaks without warning, as seen in the Iranian conflict with the United States, Congress has the time to publicly debate whether going to war with Iran is a good thing or a bad thing However, one must point out that the President can order troops to maintain peace with another nation, but the President cannot declare war. Therefore, with this in mind, it rests on the Legislative branch to declare war with another country, not the president.

Finally, consultation with Congress is necessary and valuable when it comes to warmongering. The president does not know what the better solution is to deal with another foreign country. The president has to be open to discuss all the options to address another foreign country. War is not always the answer. In the Art of War, Sun Tzu proclaimed, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting” (Sun Tzu, n.d.). Sun Tzu is talking about diplomatic alternatives. For example, President Trump did not blow up North Korea when the country was testing nuclear weapons. He approached North Korea diplomatically with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. With this example, one can see that there are diplomatic approaches that can and will help ensure the survival of another foreign country. Diplomacy should be the answer, not war. Thus, consultation with congress is both necessary and valuable. With these reasons, it is imperative that Congress has the power to declare war, not the president.

      In conclusion, we saw that through the Iranian conflict, conflict rarely breaks without warning. We also saw that the President declaring war is unconstitutional when it is without the consent or approval of the Legislative Branch. We finally saw that the consultation with Congress is valuable and necessary to ensure that we use diplomacy instead of relying on threats of war. With these reasons, I am resolved that Congress must have the initiative to war-making, not the President. 

References

Miksha, A. (2003). Declaring war on the war powers resolution. Valparaiso University Law Review, 37(2). Retrieved from https://scholar.valpo.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1264&context=vulr

Tzu, Sun. n.d. The art of war. Goodreads. Retrieved on June 18, 2019 from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/war

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