Congress, Afghanistan and The Constitution

The President has stated that he will announce a strategy regarding Afghanistan on Dec. 1st.

Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution states explicitly, “The Congress shall have the power to declare war.” It prohibits the President from solely making that decision. The most influential author of the Constitution, James Madison, wrote in 1793, “In no part of the Constitution is more wisdom to be found than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not the executive department. . . . The trust and the temptation would be too great for any one man.”

Congress is again abrogating its role by a failure to define objectives in coordination with the President, the State Department, and our Military forces.  James Madison further warned, “Those who are to conduct a war cannot in the nature of things, be proper or safe judges whether a war ought to be commenced, continued or concluded.”  It is clear from this quote that the framers of the Constitution intended for Congress to have a key role in deciding this matter.

No military operation, from an 8 man patrol to the invasion of Normandy, begins without a clear statement of the field commander’s intent and objectives. Yet we have been engaged in a war since 2001 without either.

Congress should be holding a floor debate on the question of War.  It would make the recent health care debates, while important, seem like a family picnic, but this is what our Constitution requires.  Military field operations require secrecy – continued involvement in a war requires the voice of the American people.   Congress is meant to be that voice.

It is popular in our group to blame the President,  yet we hold obeying the Constitution as one of our key principles in the FWB Tea Party.

We deserve a Congress, and Congressmen, who are willing to do their Constitutional duty – either define clear objectives with the President, or bring our troops home.


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