The ‘war powers’ myth

*Originally published on Hubpages, September 5, 2013.*

I wrote this, at the time of the ‘Red Line’ debate on intervention in Syria.

There’s a widely believed myth among too many Americans that the President needs an official Declaration of War passed by Congress to execute military operations. A myth rooted in Pres. Roosevelt’s Dec. 1941 speech, following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

For most who believe this myth, the Tonkin Gulf Resolution comes to mind as an ‘illegal’ method by which an American President went to war in defiance of the will of the people. There was nothing illegal about it, because a Congressional resolution is merely a statement of opinion held by a majority of House members.

The myth was used by Democrats to undermine military action ordered by Pres. Reagan on the island of Grenada. But, they dropped that political angle when they wanted US Marines sent into Beirut because the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was about to be destroyed by the Israeli Army.

In 1991, a Democrat controlled Congress wanted Pres. George H. W. Bush’s signature on massive tax hikes in exchange for a firm vote to fund Operation Desert Storm. So, they simply refused to hold a vote on funding until Pres. Bush finally agreed.

The language of the Constitution pertaining to war is found in Article I, Sec. 8. It has been twisted to mean something it does not say, by the Democrat Party, news media and isolationists such as Ron and Rand Paul. The text being cited by both is as follows: To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures of Land and Water.

‘To (d)eclare War’ is not the same thing as Declare War. A small case ‘d’ is used for a reason, preceded by the word ‘To’. It means simply to declare that a state of war exists. That establishes the basis for provisional military spending, allocation of national resources, and implementation of Civil Defense measures or a Draft if the President asks for one. It was written this way by the Framers of the Constitution for very specific reasons.

Use of the statement Declare War, means to make war against another nation, empire or people for the purposes of conquest, or retribution. There does not even have to be a threat. Only monarchs and dictators Declare War. Constitutional Republics do not Declare War, because they do not exist for conquest, or to establish imperial realms.

When the Congress of the United States declares War at the request of the Commander-in-Chief, it is official recognition that a state of war exists between the United States and another nation, empire, or alliance, due to one or more specific occurrences constituting an act of war.

This enables the Commander-in-Chief to request provisional military and civil defense funding resolutions, implementation of a Draft if deemed necessary, mobilization of reserves, federalizing National Guardsman for military operations; all without having to seek Amendments to the Constitution for each and every instance.

In his speech Pres. Roosevelt stated; “I ask that the Congress declare, that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, that a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”

He did not say, I ask the Congress to Declare War on/against Imperial Japan. There is no such instrument within the Constitution. The Framers wrote the Constitution this way to prevent a ‘war-hawk’ Congress from launching wars out of popular demand.

The President in the role of Commander-in-Chief, simply does not need permission from either body of Congress to order military action. The President is popularly elected by the People of the United States. Congressman represent no one outside their elective district.

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