Long Wars and the Constitution

Long Wars and the Constitution

eBook - 2013
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Harvard University Press

In a wide-ranging constitutional history of presidential war decisions from 1945 to the present, Stephen M. Griffin rethinks the long-running debate over the “imperial presidency” and concludes that the eighteenth-century Constitution is inadequate to the challenges of a post-9/11 world.

The Constitution requires the consent of Congress before the United States can go to war. Truman’s decision to fight in Korea without gaining that consent was unconstitutional, says Griffin, but the acquiescence of Congress and the American people created a precedent for presidents to claim autonomy in this arena ever since. The unthinking extension of presidential leadership in foreign affairs to a point where presidents unilaterally decide when to go to war, Griffin argues, has destabilized our constitutional order and deranged our foreign policy. Long Wars and the Constitution demonstrates the unexpected connections between presidential war power and the constitutional crises that have plagued American politics.

Contemporary presidents are caught in a dilemma. On the one hand are the responsibilities handed over to them by a dangerous world, and on the other is an incapacity for sound decisionmaking in the absence of interbranch deliberation. President Obama’s continuation of many Bush administration policies in the long war against terrorism is only the latest in a chain of difficulties resulting from the imbalances introduced by the post-1945 constitutional order. Griffin argues for beginning a cycle of accountability in which Congress would play a meaningful role in decisions for war, while recognizing the realities of twenty-first century diplomacy.


Extension of presidential leadership in foreign affairs to war powers has destabilized our constitutional order and deranged our foreign policy. Stephen M. Griffin shows unexpected connections between the imperial presidency and constitutional crises, and argues for accountability by restoring Congress to a meaningful role in decisions for war.

Book News
Jumping into the turbulent debates regarding presidential powers--especially war powers--and the Constitution, Griffin (constitutional law, Tulane Law School) looks at the activities of presidents since 1945 in a new light. He examines cycles and trends with regard to Congress and the President; discusses national security, Vietnam and Watergate, the post-Vietnam era, and the 9/11 wars; and proposes a new constitutional order that better reflects the realities of this era. Annotation ©2013 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Publisher: Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 2013
ISBN: 9780674074453
0674074459
9780674058286
0674058283
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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