For my inaugural article on Spin Free Ramblings, I chose to address one of the most important Constitutional questions facing this country. While most Americans sympathized with the humanitarian crises in Libya and wished to see it stopped, the recent military intervention and the way in which it was waged also potentially raises a Constitutional crises in its own right.
Our founding fathers realized that the power to wage war is not a power that should be taken lightly. For the power to wage war is the power to take life, limb, and property. As such, the drafters of our Constitution took the utmost precaution in giving that power to our Federal Government.
Article I, Section 8, sets forth the Congressional War power. It gives Congress the power “to declare war, grant letters of mark and reprisal and make rules concerning captures on land and sea, to raise and support armies” and it also provides that no appropriation of money for that use shall be for a longer term than two years. It also empowers Congress, to a Navy, to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces, and more.
Article II, Section 2, contains the “Commander-in-Chief” clause which is the source of the Presidential War power. That clause simply says that, “The President shall be commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States and of the militia of the several states when called into the actual service of the United States.”
The power to wage war was not given to just one branch of government. The drafters ensured that it took two keys to start the war machine. However, over time, these Constitutional safegaurds have been eroded. With possibly the most egregious erosion coming from The War Powers Resolution Act which can be read here.
The Act turns the power to declare war on its head. Instead of requiring Congress to declare war, the Act gives the President the power to do so as long as their is an imment threat to our national security and he/she consults with Congress. Despite loosening the reigns of our war machine way beyond what our founding fathers ever imagined, it seems that has still not proven to be enough to satisfy the War Hawks that have occupied the Oval Office. From Reagan's war in Libya, to Obama's, even the War Powers Act's minimal barriers seem to have been ignored. Is this something that American's should be concerned about? http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=12905 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcyuXNxZIvk http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/six-bad-arguments-for-bombing-libya/ http://reason.com/archives/2011/03/29/obamas-doctrine-of-pre-emptive http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-qm9U3X3EU
You probably noticed that all of the above links come from a Libertarian point of view. This will not be uncommon in my articles. I will leave it up to my liberal counterpart, Dose of Sanity, to put forth a countervailing view and it will be up to our readers to make up their mind for themselves.