On almost every issue, our current national soul-searching leads us back to one crucial question whose answer is increasingly in doubt: Can the institutions created almost 200 years ago to govern a rural and agricultural nation meet the need of an urban, twentieth-century, technological society? Much of the turmoil and questioning has sprung from our Vietnam experience. Even today, as we poke through the historical debris of the Vietnam era, it is. difficult to identify why, and by what authority, the decisions were made which so deeply committed us in Southeast Asia. And the most significant question for the future to emerge from our Vietnam era is this: Who decides when and where America goes to war? The President claims inherent rights as Commander-in-Chief. Congress claims that the Executive has usurped its war-making authority. Although it has the means, to reclaim its authority, Congress has failed to act. In the past, both Legislature and Executive have been unwilling to have a showdown on this delicate issue in times of peace, and unable to in times of war. Yet this debate goes to the very heart of our system of government. It raises basic questions that must be answered. Will checks and balances still work in a hair-trigger nuclear age? Have we given up the benefits of collective judgment out of necessity or out of neglect? What follows is an effort to set forth the present state of the question and to argue that an orderly balance of power in war-making matters can and must be restored.
Thomas F. Eagleton,
Congress and the War Powers,
37 Mo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/mlr/vol37/iss1/5