The increasing number of armed conflicts in the world and a number of complicated situations (the most striking of them being the events of September 11) lead to the question: what is the procedure of declaring a state of war in the US and who makes the decision about military actions. This essay is dedicated to analyzing the relations of President and Congress and the evolution of the procedure of war declaration.
“A declaration of war is a formal declaration issued by a national government indicating that a state of war exists between that nation and another”¯ (Stevenson 2007, p. 74). The Constitution (Article 1, Section 8) states that Congress should have power to declare war; but in reality the known military actions have been initiated by President, and did not always get substantial Congress support. In fact, the US have officially declared war only 5 times (Stevenson 2007, p. 51), but the number of military conflicts where the national forces took part is much greater. However, there is no clear procedure for war declaration on presidential initiative described in the Constitution.
In 1973 the debate about the presidential ability to declare war and start military actions reached its peak and as a compromise the act called “War Powers Resolution”¯ appeared. This act defines exactly the number of soldiers that may be sent to military operations outside the country without war declaration and the time of such operations. Also, the act describes the formal reports of President to the Congress concerning the state of conflict.
In March 2009 the CCR (Centre of Constitutional rights) has released an amendment to the “War Powers Resolution”¯ as a part of their 100 days campaign. In this white paper CCR claims for revising the resolution in order to prohibit any war actions without approval of the Congress and motivates people to fight for democratic rights and proper realization of democracy.