Should there be a limit on what President's can do? What can Congress do in order to keep control of the commander in chief?
Vietnam history 2oth century. North Vietnam and South Vietnam, My Lai massacre.
Should there be limits on what congress can do to interfere with the Presidents conduct of foreign policy.
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There are, in fact, limitations on the President's power as Commander in Chief. Prior to the Viet Nam War, there had been only a few instances in which Presidents sent troops into battle without a formal declaration of war, and these were normally limited instances, for instance President Wilson sending Gen. Pershing into Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa, and his later seizure of the Port of Vera Cruz. This changed with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which authorized President Lyndon Johnson to take "all necessary measures" to protect U.S. interests. President Johnson interpreted this as authority to wage war without a Congressional declaration and acted accordingly.
Congress later moved to severely limit the President's authority to commit troops into battle without Congressional oversight in the War Powers Act of 1973. President Richard Nixon vetoed the Bill, but Congress overrode the veto. Although there is some question as to the Act's constitutionality (separation of powers, etc.) it has not yet been successfully challenged in Court.
The War Powers Act states as its purpose:
to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States and insure that the collective judgement of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and to the continued use of such forces in hostilities or in such situations.
The Act further provides:
In the absence of a declaration of war, in any case in which United States Armed Forces are introduced--
(1) into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances;
(2) into the territory, airspace or waters of a foreign nation, while equipped for combat, except for deployments which relate solely to supply, replacement, repair, or training of such forces; or
(A) the circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed Forces;
(B) the constitutional and legislative authority under which such introduction took place; and
(C) the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement.
Sec. 4. (b) The President shall provide such other information as the Congress may request in the fulfillment of its constitutional responsibilities with respect to committing the Nation to war and to the use of United States Armed Forces abroad.
Sec. 4. (c) Whenever United States Armed Forces are introduced into hostilities or into any situation described in subsection (a) of this section, the President shall, so long as such armed forces continue to be engaged in such hostilities or situation, report to the Congress periodically on the status of such hostilities or situation as well as on the scope and duration of such hostilities or situation, but in no event shall he report to the Congress less often than once every six months.
The President is required to withdraw all U.S. troops within sixty days of the report to Congress mentioned above, unless Congress issues a formal declaration of war, or expressly approves the deployment of troops.
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