President vs. Congress on War Powers Essay

Pages: 4 (1315 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: War  ·  Written: September 20, 2018

Pearl Harbor had the same effect: it changed the attitude of many Americans from wanting to be isolationist to wanting to get engaged and get revenge. Congress showed no restraint in either case, as Lindsay (2003) notes. Kaufman indicates that Congress, representing the will of the people, was more willing to indulge the president and his interventionist message in the wake of an attack—and Gartner (2012) also shows as much: he points out how the Spanish-American conflict, in which Spain was blamed for an attack on The Maine, gave rise to American support for an overseas war.

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Kaufman, however, focuses on the idea that presidents are deferential to the people. Two examples of this are her focus on Roosevelt’s speeches and his feeling that he must win support from the American people before taking action overseas. His “four freedoms” speech is one instance of this sense that he felt he must win popular support for intervention before pursuing it in WWII. Another instance is when Truman dropped the bomb on Japan, he issued a press release to explain his actions. Kaufman points out that while Truman acted on his own he still felt the need to justify his actions to the American people. Kaufman points out that foreign policy thus developed as an interplay between presidents and the public, as the public consists of voters who ultimately have the final say: they are the ones who will vote people in or out of office.

Essay on The President vs. Congress on War Powers Assignment

The difference between the authors has shaped my understanding of foreign policy in the sense that I now see it as a much more complex affair than before. Developing and implementing foreign policy depends not just upon negotiating war powers with Congress but also on negotiating a policy of intervention with the public. Without the public’s support, the president may ultimately be stripped of power. Nixon came under pressure from the public to get out of Vietnam. Clinton came under pressure from Congress to follow the rules. 9/11 changed the orientation of the public and Congress was deferential to the president—but now after nearly two decades of ME debacles, public support has waned and the public elected this go around a president who promised to get out of the ME. Will the public hold Trump accountable or hold him to his campaign promises?

In short, whenever there is an attack on America, Americans become like putty in the hands of the president, who follows Lincoln’s example and Locke’s principle. This is the idea that stood out most to me from the readings. I look at it this way: the more that America feels threatened, the more likely Americans are to support a war and an intervention abroad—if it is in the name of peace. If the point of the war is lost on Americans, they can get frustrated with the president and there will be push back. Roosevelt seemed to understand that a president should not enter into a war without support from the public. When there is no war or reason to go to war (i.e., in the sense that Americans do not feel threatened), there is likely to be little support for an aggressive foreign policy either from the public or from Congress—which means the president would be alienated should he choose to act on his own.

  1. Gartner, D. (2012). Foreign relations, strategic doctrine, and presidential power. Alabama Law Review, 63(3), 499-533.
  2. Kaufman, J. (2017). A concise history of U.S. foreign policy. Lanham, MA: Rowman and Littlefield.
  3. Lindsay, J.M. (2003). Deference and Defiance: The Shifting Rhythms of Executive-Legislative Relations in Foreign Policy. Presidential Studies Quarterly, (3),… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite " President vs. Congress on War Powers" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

President vs. Congress on War Powers.  (2018, September 20).  Retrieved January 19, 2021, from

MLA Format

" President vs. Congress on War Powers."  20 September 2018.  Web.  19 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

" President vs. Congress on War Powers."  September 20, 2018.  Accessed January 19, 2021.