Bundy, McGeorge
December 1979
Foreign Affairs;Winter79/80, Vol. 58 Issue 2, p397
This article analyzes the issues surrounding the War Powers Resolution in 1973 in the U.S. One of the most important questions about working of the U.S. government is the nature and location of the authority to use the armed forces of the country against an adversary. It is not an easy matter. Doctrinaire readings of the constitutional grant of the war power to the Congress are as misleading as executive reliance on the role of the President as Commander in Chief. The formal treaties that bind the U.S. to allies in Europe, Asia and this Hemisphere are couched in language that quite deliberately skirts the question of who would do what, and by what process of decision, at the moment of truth. Even greater uncertainty surrounds the largely untested War Powers Resolution of 1973. And in all our complex debates on strategic deterrence we seldom ask ourselves just how one would square the possible requirements for rapid executive action with the rights of the U.S. Congress, let alone the people. The problem was that neither the country nor the U.S. Congress was the least bit eager to go back to war in Vietnam for any reason whatever. Any assertion that we must be ready to do this, or admission that the President had given an absolute assurance of such action, if need be, would have produced an explosive reaction.


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