Pres. Obama and his team have been playing twister with legal arguments for bombing Syria without an express declaration of war from Congress. Those changing arguments are all wrong, and the attacks on Syria – like so many wars before it – are wildly unconstitutional. Read on to learn why, and what steps you can take to resist it.
Here’s what’s important to understand in this situation:
- What the powers of the Executive branch are when it comes to war
- What qualifies as war
THE PRESIDENT AND WAGING WAR
In the Constitution, the Founders intentionally prohibited the Executive branch from having the power to unilaterally determine whether or not the country would engage in war. Few were more adamant about this than James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” who wrote:
“The constitution supposes, what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the legislature.”
Thus, Congress has the power to determine if the country will wage offensive war and against whom. Once that decision is made by the Congress, the President is in charge of waging that war.
Madison emphasized this point again:
…The executive has no right, in any case to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.
In no part of the constitution is more wisdom to be found than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department.