Almon Leroy Way, Jr.
C. THE ALLOCATION & THE INTENT OF THE FOUNDERS
In dividing the war-making powers between Congress and the President, the Framers of the U.S. Constitution sought to make the system of checks and balances they were creating applicable to governmental decisions of war and peace and to thereby impose limits on the authority of the national government to commit the country to foreign hostilities. It was the Framers intent that Congress would make the decision as to whether or not, in a given situation, the U.S.A. would go to war. Congress would make such a momentous decision through exercise of its powers to grant or withhold a war declaration proposed by the President and to appropriate or decline to appropriate funds for the purpose of raising, supporting, and maintaining the military forces necessary for successful prosecution of the war.
Once Congress had made the decision to go to war, having declared war and having authorized recruitment, support, maintenance, and mobilization of the necessary military forces, the President, as Commander in Chief, would have full authority and responsibility under the Constitution for successful prosecution of the war against the enemy power or powers officially designated as such by Congress in its declaration of war. In military strategy and operations, the President, as supreme commander of the U.S. Armed Forces and of the state militia (National Guard) units called into the national military service, would become dominant and remain so until the enemy had been defeated, its threat to the U.S.A. removed, and the war had come to an end.
The Framers' allocation of the war powers between Congress and the President was in accord with the philosophy that (1) a legislative assembly consisting of the people's elected representatives should decide, by majority vote, whether the country was to go to war against a foreign foe and (2) once the determination to go to war had been made by this representative assembly, the successful prosecution of the war required that a single high civil officer, preferably the nation's civilian chief executive, be in full command of the military forces. A large body of elected representatives should decide the question of going to war, but a single person had to be in complete charge of the actual waging of the war, if it was to be waged successfully.
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