March 19, 2011

Whatever happened to Congress declaring war?

When was the last time Congress declared war on anybody? 1942?

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

It declared itself a whore instead.

Kylie said...

"When was the last time Congress declared war on anybody? 1942?"

1965

Brent Lane said...

Happy 8th Anniversary, Mr President!

Did I sleep through the part where we repealed the 20th Amendment? Or maybe the McCain victory in '08?

Can anyone honestly tell me that this situation is being handled any differently than it would have been had either of those two scenarios taken place?

John Seiler said...

Right. Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, 1942.

We even needed declarations of war against Germany and Italy in 1941 to kick them out of Libya.

airtommy said...


I guess Steve was asleep when we rewrote the Constitution and revoked Congress' war powers and farmed that out to the Weekly Standard editorial board.

Whiskey said...

Clinton did not declare War. Neither AFAIK did Bush 1. Bush 2 declared War on both Afghanistan and Iraq, through formal Congressional votes. Something Clinton neglected for both Operation Desert Fox 1999-2000 against Iraq and against Serbia earlier.

Obama won't declare War, because Dems and a not insignificant amount of Reps would vote against it. Dems because they like Farrakhan reflexively oppose military force (Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, and Farrakhan have all come out for Khadaffi and against the US military) and Reps out of reflexive dislike of Obama who has antagonized them at every turn.

We are using force against Khadaffi in the worst possible way -- no clear objective, late when early force could have been decisive and less costly (about three weeks ago -- "there is a tide in human affairs" etc.) And without extracting concessions from the weaker party.

Whiskey said...

Machiavelli noted that the Romans consistently allied themselves with the weaker parties (Greek City-states in Sicily, not the Carthaginians) in expanding their empire and wealth.

We are not doing that. We have not enlisted the obvious folks to police/run Libya from the Ground (Egyptian Army) which would be indebted to us and could therefore be required to police Islamists and keep a lid on their own.

Now we have Khadaffi's obvious play to ethnically cleanse his own country with his mercenaries, to whom he will grant land (he has little cash on hand by now). Which in turn creates Camp of the Saints across the Med.

Sarkozy is not a "great humanitarian" he's convinced Marie Le Pen will be the next President of France if he lets a Camp of the Saints develop. Due to Schengen protocols, any Libyans ending up in Italy can walk across the French border and the EU requires the French not stop them. And Italians will surely press the Libyans on.

Meanwhile its highly like Libya's oil is off the market for years. At a time when China's demand (and now Japan's, as they need power from oil instead of nukes) is ever-growing.

Alexandra Wallace with epiphany said...

Farrakhan reflexively oppose military force (Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, and Farrakhan

Appeal to (anti-)authority fallacy. Hitler loved animals so right thinkers should be for animal cruelty?

I'm beginning to think most posts by Whiskey (EvilNeocon, Testing99) are bot generated given such repetitive fallacies peppered with specific facts that appear frequently falsified with a uniformly bias.

Or maybe it's just replying to him is like replying to a bot.

Anonymous said...

We have not enlisted the obvious folks to police/run Libya from the Ground (Egyptian Army)

LOL, wut? The Egyptian Army will have all it can handle running Egypt in the next year.

Acilius said...

Strictly speaking, the Congress has "declared war" only once, in 1812. On all those other occasions it passed resolutions asserting that a state of war already existed because of the actions of the enemy. Various post-1942 resolutions, including the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964 and the resolutions passed in the Bush/Cheney years, included the same assertions, and so could as easily be considered as declarations of war as could any of the resolutions passed between 1812 and 1942.

Anonymous said...

Neither Bush formally declared war. Those were both "Congressional Authorizations of the Use of Force" or something like that. Maybe they are the functionaly equivalent. But then why we can't just declare war like it says in the Constitution is beyond me.

Also, LBJ did not get a formal declaration either, just a resolution.

So I think 1942 is the right answer.

Anonymous said...

If Republicans ever wanted an excuse to impeach Obama, now's their chance. Of course, I don't think they'll go this route.

tornado said...

Dennis Kucinich (PBUH) is on the case:

http://www.wtma.com/rssItem.asp?feedid=112&itemid=29646275

...

"But the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told ABC News Friday afternoon that he did not believe Congressional authorization is necessary for U.S. involvement, and credited the president for opening up a White House national security briefing Friday to Congressional leaders from both parties. "

You just have to treat the leaders like Cool Kids and you can do what you want.

Anonymous said...

Congress could zero out the funding if they objected, and they don't do that, so I think they are going along.

Anonymous said...

Congress never declared war on drugs, poverty or obesity, either, but those seem to be going swimmingly.

Mercer said...

"resolutions passed in the Bush/Cheney years, included the same assertions, and so could as easily be considered as declarations of war as could any of the resolutions passed between 1812 and 1942."

Congress did not declare war in 2002. It passed the buck to Bush and said he could go to war if he wanted to. Bush said he wanted Congressional action so he could force Saddam to submit to inspections thinking Saddam would not agree. When Saddam agreed to let the UN look around they found nothing and Bush went to war anyway.

Jim Bowery said...

No one even knows what a real "Declaration of War" means. The most the "Constitutionalists" will get are the 3 words "Declaration of War" plastered on top of whatever sh*t they want to do anyway.

A real declaration of war is the statement of the objective in terms that make it clear the war is a temporary state if affairs in such a way that the people can know what terminates the war.

They'll NEVER get that out of these slime molds.

Anonymous said...

Shows you how we now have an imperial presidency so the congress does not matter.

Agrippina the Younger said...

"Whatever happened to Congress declaring war?"

I think the practice died off shortly after Caligula made his horse Consul.

Jerry said...

The money wasted on this war is comparatively small, so no big deal.

Like with Serbia, this intervention has to do with preventing genocide, ethnic cleansing. The shadow of the Holocaust is long over the West. If America is part of the West, then this shadow falls on it too. Again, a small price to pay. The first time, it was tragedy, sixty years ago. The second time, with Libya and others, it's farce.

If oil goes up in price, this should be a net positive for the West. America uses twice as much oil per capita as Europe, there is room to cut a lot of fat here. And expensive oil will be a bigger burden for China, with its artificially cheap currency together with its dependence on trade surpluses for growth, than it is for us. And whatever hurts our main enemy is a big plus. Let's not be naive here...

beowulf said...

Blame Truman's interpretation of the UN Treaty when North Korea crossed the 17th Parallel. A UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force is all the authority a President needs to send troops into combat.

Wes said...

Declaring war is soooo passe. Why not just ask when the next Glen Miller album is coming out.

Metternich said...

The US Congress passed a public law authorizing the US military action in Iraq. There is a good write up at Wikipedia.

You can download the pdf of the law from this US government page.

To me, the most interesting thing about the authorization is that it does not mention nuclear weapons at all.

The US Supreme Court has okayed this sort of law as satisfying the constitutional requirements.

Anonymous said...

"1965"

Indeed!

Daybreaker said...

The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, enacted October 16, 2002.

If Congress wants to give the President absolute discretion to open hostilities, it can do so.

Mr. Anon said...

Congress missed it's opportunity to assert its authority in 1992. They should have impeached George Herbert Walker Bush for arrogantly asserting that he did not need no stinkin' Congress to go to war, which he did in 1990. If they had done this in 1992, when Bush was already pretty unpopular, they might have pulled it off too. It would have been a salutary example.

Mr. Anon said...

"airtommy said...

I guess Steve was asleep when we rewrote the Constitution and revoked Congress' war powers and farmed that out to the Weekly Standard editorial board."

I remember that. Isn't the CFR involved somehow too? Either they get to vote on the matter, or they're in charge of providing coffee and sandwiches - I forget which.

Mr. Anon said...

"Whiskey said...

Bush 2 declared War on both Afghanistan and Iraq, through formal Congressional votes."

That's a damned lie. It was not a declaration of war. It was a "resolution for the authorization of force", which is nothing more than Congress abdicating its responsibility, and the president exploiting that abdication.

Gene Berman said...

Beowulf:

The seventeenth is the line at which South and North Vietnem were separated after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu. North and South Korea were separated by the 38th (and, later, after the truce, by a line of positions held roughly along the same line).

Svigor said...

Also, LBJ did not get a formal declaration either, just a resolution.

Kylie was referring to Hart-Cellar; war vs. us. I think pretty much everyone knows we never declared war vs. Vietnam.

Svigor said...

If oil goes up in price, this should be a net positive for the West. America uses twice as much oil per capita as Europe, there is room to cut a lot of fat here.

America is not Europe. Compared population densities lately?

And our main enemy is the New-York-DC-Los-Angeles complex, not China.

Anonymous said...

That's a damned lie. It was not a declaration of war. It was a "resolution for the authorization of force", which is nothing more than Congress abdicating its responsibility, and the president exploiting that abdication.

Tell that to the Founders. Half of them were still in Congress in 1798 when it passed the first formal authorization to use force--against France:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_Further_to_Protect_the_Commerce_of_the_United_States

None of them, be they federalists or ex-anti-federalists raised any constitutional objections. In fact the authorization (which passed the House by voice vote) was contemporaneously described as a functional declaration of war.

Those Constitution-hating Founders!

Baloo said...

I'm not sure about this, but doesn't a literal declaration of war cause other laws/rules to kick in? And by not having that declaration, the gvt avoids them? Anybody know about this?

Baloo said...

Now I remember. I heard at the time that Jane Fonda couldn't be charged with treason because we hadn't declared war against N. Vietnam. Anybody know if that's valid?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that was:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_Further_to_Protect_the_Commerce_of_the_United_States

Oh, and what contemptible hater of America's Jeffersonian vision of limited constitutional government refused to seek a formal declaration of war the last time US ground forces were committed to combat in the part of the world now known as Libya?

Yep, that wicked anti-Jeffersonian was...Thomas Jefferson. He also just sought (and got) congressional authorization for the use of force instead. This even after the then-Pasha of Tripoli (!) formally declared war on the United States.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Tell that to the Founders. Half of them were still in Congress in 1798 when it passed the first formal authorization to use force--against France:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_Further_to_Protect_the_Commerce_of_the_United_States

None of them, be they federalists or ex-anti-federalists raised any constitutional objections. In fact the authorization (which passed the House by voice vote) was contemporaneously described as a functional declaration of war."

This would still seem to fall under section 8 of the Consitution. I believe that the French were siezing our ships, and so we responded in kind. I dare say that if Adams had proposed bombardment of French ports or a full-scale invasion of Metropolitan France, that it would have been deemed a war, and would have been formally declared as such.

And regarding the act you cite, Adams did seek, and was granted - as an actual law - authorization for these military actions.

Mr. Anon said...

"Kylie said...

"When was the last time Congress declared war on anybody? 1942?"

1965"

Droll. Very droll. Sadly true, too.

beowulf said...

Gene Berman,
Thanks for pointing that out, its been a while since I've seen an episode of MASH. :o)

Dave said...

We haven't declared war since WWII, but Congress asserted itself with the War Powers Act in response to Vietnam (saying that the POTUS can effectively start a war, but can only prosecute it for a few months without Congress's explicit approval). Also, Bush 41 established a precedent (with the Gulf War), that for any war that could lead to significant commitment of ground troops/U.S. casualties, you get Congressional authorization first. Bush did that with Afghanistan and later Iraq.

David said...

We need no additional declaration of war because the previous one never really ended. The declaration of war in circa 1942 was a congressional mandate for fightin' Evil. This mandate is in perpetuity. Someone here referenced "the long shadow of the Holocaust." One might add, "The long shadow of communism. The long shadow of terrorism. The long shadow of x."

.... Well, isn't that the fewest-moving-parts hypothesis that explains it all? I even have some corroboration from a former Commander-in-Chief and Supreme Allied Commander: http://preview.tinyurl.com/yxdhls