What is Congress Good For? Not Declaring War

Members Only Subscribe to read the full article

The framers of the U.S. Constitution decided 230 years ago to divide the nation’s war powers between the president and the Congress, making the president the commander in chief of the armed forces and giving the lawmakers the exclusive power to declare war. Yet, as 2018 gets underway, the executive branch continues a multiyear military campaign against ISIS, even though the Congress has not exercised its power to declare war against that target. An examination of James Madison’s notes of the debates during the 1787 Constitutional Convention provides valuable guidance as to whether the two branches of government are abiding by our framers’ intent.

While historical papers provide a range of resources on the subject, Madison’s notes (full text at bottom) are perhaps the best reference to learn of the framers’ purpose in giving some war powers to the president and some to the Congress. In the late summer of 1787, the delegates to the convention went clause-by-clause through a proposed constitution drafted by the Committee of Detail.  On Friday, Aug. 17, 1787, the delegates debated the clause in the proposed constitution that gave the legislative branch the power “to make war.”

The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

Access all of The Cipher Brief‘s national security-focused expert insight by becoming a Cipher Brief Subscriber+Member.

Continue Reading

Get access to all our briefs

Sign up Today

Categorized as:InternationalTagged with: