An interesting Op-Ed appeared in the Washington Post on Tuesday from Leslie H. Gelb and Anne-Marie Slaughter which reminds us that Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution gives Congress alone the power to declare war.
The United States has not declared war since World War II. All of the conflicts since then—Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq (1 and 2), and others—have been launched by the executive branch with no official declaration. Gelb and Slaughter ask the inevitable question that I have been asking as well since the Bosnian conflict in the late-90s: Why doesn’t Congress reclaim its sole Constitutional authority to decide when we go to war?
You can make a valid argument that any war fought without a Congressional declaration is illegal—Congress is supposed to declare; the president is only supposed to execute that declaration. I may not agree with the political slant of this article, but its core thesis should resonate well with any rule-of-law conservative.
- No More Blank-Check Wars (Washington Post; free registration may be required).