Who Declares War?

The Constitution grants Congress the authority to declare war. Yet Congress has all but ceded its responsibilities and the executive branch gains ever more power to authorize military action overseas. We are left with decades of administrations of both parties using unchecked force, and cashing a “blank check for war.” 

Since the attacks of 9/11, the US has sent troops into combat in more than a dozen countries, but without any official war declaration. How did we get here? In this video, Representative Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and Harvard’s Stephen Walt explore how the early Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMFs) — passed during a period of national mourning two decades ago — have led to a moment where America finds itself perpetually at war.

This video includes references to the Eurasia Group Foundation, now known as the Institute for Global Affairs.

This post is part of Independent America, a research project led out by IGA senior fellow Mark Hannah, which seeks to explore how US foreign policy could better be tailored to new global realities and to the preferences of American voters.

A brighter future for all