The division of war powers between Congress and the President has never been free of ambiguity or tension. The Constitution grants Congress the power to declare war, to raise and support armies, to provide and maintain a navy, and to make rules for the regulation of those armed forces. The President, on the other hand, is the Commander in Chief of U.S. armed forces. Most scholars agree that the framers sought to strike a balance: the President alone could not commence "war," but he could use force to "repel sudden attacks" on the United States or its armed forces. Reacting against the unilateral power of kings to go to war without the consent of the people, the framers desired a democratic check on the power of the President to initiate armed conflict. Disagreement rages, however, over what the sparse words of the Constitution should mean today, when wars are hardly ever "declared" in advance, U.S. forces are stationed on foreign soil on a semipermanent basis, and the country's security interests are intertwined with those of other states in an increasingly interdependent international system.
81 Geo. L.J. 597
Scholarly Commons Citation
Stromseth, Jane E., "Rethinking War Powers: Congress, The President, and the United Nations" (1993). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. Paper 1679.