United States and the Congress Essay
United States and the Congress
The debate on separation of powers between the president of the United States and the Congress on the control over the military has been in existence for decades. Both legally and constitutionally, the debate never ends. With immense executive powers vested in the presidency and legislative powers vested in the congress, conflicts have always arose on who exactly to run the affairs of the military owing to the fact that they determine the foreign policy of the United States. Decisions on the military force by these two institutions have been through conflict and cooperation especially in the post cold war era which posts a major challenge to the welfare of the people of the United States. (William D. 2003)
The president through the powers provided for him in the constitution as the head of state and governance makes him powerful in influencing decisions especially regarding the military. This is because he is the commander in chief of the armed forces. At the same time, the congress in mandated by the constitution to manage and protect the security of the people of the United States. This duty is performed in collaboration with the president through legal checks and balances. This means that during war, the congress authorizes the president to wage war in protection of the rights and freedoms of the people of American.
In my position, the congress derives more powers from the constitution to regulate the military forces as advanced in this discussion. The power granted to the congress to vote and invoke the War Power Resolutions (WPR) stands as a power check on the president on his ideal utility of the military force. These resolutions were decided up in the year 1973 amidst concerns by the congress on the presidential powers on the use of the military. The statute required the president to end combat in another country within a period of 60 to 90 days unless the congress authorizes it (the war) to continue. (Michael E. 1998)
The power check is sometimes challenging and may not even work since most presidents will always dominate on the tantamount decisions on the use of the force. The inability of the congress to invoke the WPR, then the president does exercise his powers as the commander in chief of the armed forces and therefore legitimately authorizes military operation.
The president of the United States under the constitution is given the powers to wage war while the congress has the mandate to declare and fund the war. Since the second world war, it has been demonstrated that the president has more powers to even start wars without consulting the congress. This has resulted to the congress paying the price of a war they were not involved at deciding on.
In such a situation, the congress may turn down or even reduce financial status of such wars to limit the commanders role in the field. This has been witnessed in the war in Iraq (2003) where the democrat controlled congress limited funding to the war saying that it was going by the low public approval of the war in Iraq.
The congress in the United States through the supreme court can challenge a decision by the president on military decision. Since the congress tends to go by the will of Americans-democrat-the power divide between it and the president is to induce corporation in vital decisions.
A supreme court ruling in 2006in Hamdan vs Rumsfeld, the ruling found the special military commission established by president Bush was illegal. (Michael E. 1998) This stressed that the war time military powers should be decided between the president and the congress. Regarding troop withdrawal, the US congress is bestowed with the authority to limit the period of troops operation on the ground. These substantial powers should also include its role in deciding and defining the nature and scope of a military operation.
For instance, in 1993 the democrat centered congress established an eighteen month time limit for the US troops deployed in Lebanon by the then president Ronald Reagan who was a republican. On losing 241 US troops in Beirut after a bomb attack, Reagan and his administration withdrew all the remaining troops from Lebanon by March 1994.
The congress has the constitutional authority to authorize the president to take military measures to deal with persons, nations and organizations who/that attack the freedom and democracy of the people of America.
After the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US, the congress gave the president the authority to take military action against the involved parties. This placed the operation at his own discretion without having to seek any further consultation from the congress. The congress has the power to make laws on the US foreign policy. This entails the checking if the presidents activities in other countries deserves resources from the American people.
In 2007, the congress came up with a memorandum that outlined ways of ensuring that the steps that the president took were to be executed in a manner that promoted the American national security reflecting the desires of the American people. In conclusion, the congress should share more authority with the president on decisions relating to the military force. The president should respect the authority given to the congress by the constitution and not to forget that Americans have rights and freedoms to enjoy.
Michael E. “Congress, the president and the use of the military force: Corporation or conflict in the post-cold war era”. War journal 28 (1998): 35-40,
William. D. “A quick and dirty guide to Bush administration war profiteering ”. New York: Nation
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 19 March 2017
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