Thursday, October 11, 2018

Rand Paul: Constitution says Congress votes on war

By Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

While watching Shannon Bream of Fox News interview Senator Rand Paul about Saudi interference and involvement in different parts of the Middle East, including Yemen, and Saudi Arabia's denial of assassinating a journalist, Senator Paul made a very interesting observation about the U.S. Constitution.  He was asked about what the President may, or should, do militarily about the situation in the Middle East, and he was quick to say, "The Constitution says Congress votes on war."

Of all of the Senators holding office in the United States Senate, Rand Paul is probably the one who knows the most about the original intent of the U.S. Constitution.  I would expect no less of him, considering his father is former member of the House of Representatives, Ron Paul.

However, like his father, Rand Paul misses the Constitution when it comes to war powers.

A good friend of mine has a saying, "For God so loved the world, He didn't send a committee."

There are two kinds war powers.  The power to declare war, which belongs to Congress, and the power to wage war, which belongs to the Commander in Chief.  The two powers are defined and presented as separate powers in the Articles of Confederation, and also presented as separate powers during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 as presented in James Madison's notes on the federal convention.  While in the Articles of Confederation both powers were granted to the legislature, the two powers were separated in the Constitution.  It was necessary to grant to the president the ability to wage war without having to always get Congressional permission.  The Framers understood there would be times when Congress would not be able to act quick enough when the need arose.

If the decision was left only to Congress, the war may end while they are still debating if to use force in committee.  There are also those moments when Congress is not in session.  Should the President of the United States be forced to wait until the Congress critters return to Washington, and then go through their slow process of debate and consideration, before taking action in a necessary military arena that probably required a quick and decisive decision?

That said, Congress still has some control.  If the legislature does not agree with a military operation that the President has decided to pursue without a declaration of war by Congress, they may pull the funding.  No money, no war.  They can also, if they believe he is abusing his war powers, file articles of impeachment.

In short, while the Congress may vote on a declaration of war, which is a formal message to the world that we are in a state of war, to wage war a President is not technically required to wait for a vote on a declaration before he may wage war.  Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, as a matter of fact, waged war without a vote from Congress.  The military operations are known as the Barbary Wars.

While I respect Rand Paul, I must ask a simple question in response to his statement.  When a quick military response is necessary, do we really want to wait for a congressional committee to take however long they will take to decide whether or not we should respond?  Or do we want our Commander in Chief to act decisively to neutralize threats who threaten us immediately?

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

1 comment:

MilesAlive said...

We could all be dead by the time congress votes!