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Congress Outsources its Power to Declare War

Posted on Tuesday, August 8, 2023
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AMAC Exclusive – By W.J. Lee

nato meeting power to declare war

The decision to declare war is one of the most consequential powers the Constitution vests with the United States Congress. However, a supermajority of senators recently signaled that they were willing to effectively delegate that power to America’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies in Europe.

In July, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) offered an amendment to the FY 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to, as he put it, “reassert that Article 5 of the NATO treaty does not supersede Congress’s power under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of our Constitution to declare war.”

Known as the “collective defense provision,” Article 5 of the NATO treaty states that an “armed attack against one… shall be considered an attack against them all.” In effect, it means that every NATO member has an obligation to come to the aid of any member country in the event of a military attack.

Discussion of Article 5 has made headlines recently as the volatile Ukraine-Russia war has inched dangerously close to NATO member states like Poland.

In an alarming result, the Senate overwhelmingly voted down Paul’s proposal. Only 16 Republican senators supported the amendment clarifying that the NATO treaty does not supersede the Constitution’s mandate for Congress to declare war.

Those who joined Paul included: Senators Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Braun (R-IN), Roger Marshall (R-KS), John Kennedy (R-LA), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), Steve Daines (R-MT), James Lankford (R-OK), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Ron Johnson (R-WI).

The vote highlights a significant change in the attitudes of the two parties.

For years, Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-VT) has railed against the “unauthorized and unconstitutional” involvement of U.S Armed Forces in the Saudi-led conflict in Yemen. And just last year, he called for Congress to “take back its authority over war.”

Here was his chance to speak out against a further erosion of Congress’s war powers, but he and others declined to support the Paul amendment.

Shortly after the vote, Senator Lee tweeted his disbelief: “If your son or daughter were sent to war, would it bother you if the United States had entered that war because operation of Article 5 of the NATO treaty somehow obviated the need for Congress to declare war?” he asked.

Senator Paul also warned that the prevailing thought that the treaty obligation unquestionably commits the United States to provide military support should a NATO ally be attacked is “incorrect.”

Specifically, Paul referenced Article 11 of the NATO treaty, which states that its provisions are to be carried out according to each country’s constitutional process. In other words, the NATO treaty itself explicitly tells member nations to follow their own constitutions.

However, the other 83 senators who voted against Paul’s amendment in this case apparently declined to affirm the NATO treaty’s provisions as written.

So why did the upper chamber vote to shove-off responsibility? One word: accountability.

The modern Congress has been operating in an era of loose leadership and misdirection, because they view it more difficult to win re-election if voting records show they were the ones who sent young Americans off to war. So instead, they’d rather punt on the issue and allow the executive branch to decide without a confirmation vote by Congress.

The United States was forged around ensuring that the people are properly represented when America exercises these sober powers. But Congress has a habit of avoiding its responsibilities when hard decisions need to be made.

“Why is [voting on declaring war] important?” Paul asked rhetorically after his amendment failed. “Because in 2001, people voted to go to war and this body still thinks that that vote binds us to war with no further vote.”

In invoking the 20-year-long Afghanistan conflict, Paul was channeling the fears of many that the United States may be sleep-walking into another war that will last a generation. Only this time, it could be with a nuclear adversary in Russia.

Those fears were intensified last month amid news that the U.S. had sent controversial cluster bomb munitions to Ukraine, and that Ukraine was using U.S.-supplied drones to launch attacks on business buildings in Moscow.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the drone attacks “would not be possible without the help provided to the Kyiv regime by the U.S. and its NATO allies” – indicating that Russia increasingly views Ukraine and NATO as a common enemy.

Amid these developments, it’s worth asking: What would a responsible Senate do?

For starters, a responsible Senate would at least debate the dangerous situation the U.S. now finds itself in – one where, for the first time since 1972, Russia is noncompliant with the nuclear nonproliferation START treaty, and has repeatedly threatened nuclear war.

A responsible Senate would also reiterate former President Donald Trump’s criticism of NATO allies who have not paid their fair share of collective defense funds each year. The U.S. Treasury is largely spent, and as a result, American soldiers may have to pay for our allies’ lack of preparedness with their lives.

Lastly, a responsible Senate would confront the prospect of war with the utmost seriousness it deserves. Americans place a sacred trust in our elected representatives to put the country above all else, including their own reelection.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate is largely filled with politicians whose refusal to debate the issue at hand leaves our nation seemingly marching on a path to war without any deliberation.

W.J. Lee has served in the White House, NASA, on multiple political campaigns, and in nearly all levels of government. In his free time, he enjoys the “three R’s” – reading, running, and writing.

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Herman Roy Massey
Herman Roy Massey
11 months ago

I once again hear the ringing: Term limits. Unfortunately, big government, power mongering uni-party swamp rats will never voluntarily infringe on their “pot of gold” career they enjoy at the expense of the governed.

WJS
WJS
11 months ago

I see my two senators, Graham and Scott are included in the bunch that voted against this. We need elected officials to take responsibility for their actions.

kdesq
kdesq
11 months ago

Isn’t it amazing the only people that want accountability are some republicans, NO demoncrats and NO rinos. Truly pathetic. The 17th amendment to the constitution is arguably the worst amendment ever passed. Giving us the direct vote for senators took the power the states had to stop this crap away. That was the whole reason that each state got two senators, sent there by the state legislatures and therefore, accountable to the state. No fund raising, no re-election campaign money needed. If you ticked off the state you were gone when your term was up. No playing on name recognition, which is what most of these clowns bank on from the stupid, ignorant and brain dead voters.

Veteran
Veteran
11 months ago

Alliances, and automatic triggers are what turned WWI from a Serbian/Russian plotted Austro-Hungarian assassination tragedy into a worldwide human catastrophe of biblical proportions for which Germany ended up getting the bad press wrap and having to pay “reparations”, conveniently for the Russians. We need to seriously rethink international organizations, and multi-national alliances, there should never be an automatic “decision” that overrides our Constitution, or sovereignty, and never without consent of the governed, or their elected representatives; and by elected I mean those with the most legitimately cast votes, not the ones with the most re-runs of the same votes, harvested votes, or fictitious, or flipped computer software generated votes.

Bud
Bud
11 months ago

Worst Morbidly Dispickable Decision Ever!!

Sharon Ormsby
Sharon Ormsby
11 months ago

Gotta agree with Sanders on this! No war-including with Ukraine. We need to immediately restock our arms and work on defending our borders, now.

Tory Ocean
Tory Ocean
11 months ago

This is incredibly global gift of power of the
congress to do nothing except defer to
NATO!!!! We NEED Working Senators.
The Dems and lazy Rino would hand over
the decision to go to war to NATO. ?
stop their PAY now!
we Need to fire any member sell out America!
Bless RAND
, Rubio, Johnson, Hawley, Cruz, etc.
We Just Lost our Credit Rating and DC wants
to go abstain from the war decisions and give to NATO!
SEE, this is why America First comes down to a leader who cares. Example: Trump????????

Rik
Rik
11 months ago

We all know that Democrats aren’t smart, after all they did vote Jackass Joe Biden into the Presidentcy! Isn’t that proof enough?

Irv C
Irv C
11 months ago

Personally I want our Congress to make these decisions and NOT Nato of which I have little faith in.

Joe McHugh
Joe McHugh
11 months ago

Question: Did Congress approve of the NATO Treaty before voting to become a member? Specifically, did the Congress members read, and understand what Article 5 of the NATO Treaty stipulated? If so, they understood that they were delegating their obligation to declare war without voting on it if Treaty Article 5 was ever invoked. In plain words, the Congress, that approved of the NATO Treaty, dishonored their sworn oath to support and defend Article 5, Section 8, Clause 11 of the American Constitution.
And now the chickens have come home to roost. A Senator, Rand Paul, has dared to challenge America’s role in the NATO organization, ……. a role taken on over 75-years ago. The reason that NATO was created in the first place, was to provide the Western European countries the security of a common defense against an Imperialistic U.S.S.R. That was a logical reason then, and it is still a logical reason now with the dictator Putin in power.
However, the Treaty problem hasn’t gone away, if anything it has become even more problematic. The single thing that causes so much angst about Article 5 of the NATO Treaty is the proliferation of the Atomic Bomb. This weapon is so fearsome that no country wants to use it because of the obvious results, i.e. the Mutual Assured Destruction, (M.A.D.) concept. The only value of having nuclear weapons is that one can threaten to employ them if, ….. the opposition does this, or doesn’t do that. It’s an empty threat because if the opposition caves into such threats, there would be no end to more threats in a following confrontation. In plain words, threatening to use nuclear weapons only works if the enemy country lacks the will to be a self-respecting society. Putin could become the master of the world solely because of the cowardness of the other country’s leaders.
For the United States a second problem has exacerbated the politically prickly nature of Article 5, Section 8, Clause 11 of the American Constitution, (war declaration responsibility). A lack of term limits for all Federally elective offices. The Founding Fathers failed to understand the human susceptibility to greed and power. They gave the candidates elected to represent the people too much credit for having integrity and honor. It’s almost as though the Founders didn’t foresee that political power could be leveraged to crate financial riches. President Harry Truman said, “Show me a Representative or Senator who became rich in office, and I will show you a crook.”
It’s easy to denounce the Congress critters and blame them for foreign and domestic failures in leadership. The real culprits? The majority of American voters who put these creatures in power. 82-million votes were counted for Joe Biden in 2020. How many of them would now brag about how wonderful Joe Biden is in the White House? The hapless fool doesn’t know who, what, where he is, or even what time it is. He has called Kamala Harris the “President” on several occasions. Biden was always an embarrassment but now he is just an empty suit.
We have the military power to back up our commitment to the NATO Treaty. What we lack is the leadership in the Congress to take a stand and defend it.

Jeri
Jeri
11 months ago

The military industrial complex is hungry and in need of a feeding…

Gerry Coulombe
Gerry Coulombe
11 months ago

This is asinine. The USA needs to control its own destiny. We shouldn’t allow any country to dictate or control our armed forces

P2burner
P2burner
11 months ago

Biden has been suckling the national teat for 50 years, and is finally at the top of the pile. I wonder if he got into politics in order to just enrich himself and his family with kick-backs and outright bribes.
My point is that it seems like the rest of congress has finally caught up, and just wants to phone it in rather than actually do the jobs they were elected to do.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
11 months ago

Use the NATO excuse for war

Paul
Paul
11 months ago

I agree with Senator Paul and Vance from Ohio, et. al, and that each member State should follow their own Constitution.
The problem regarding any Treaty that the USA has ratified, has been ruled by the US Supreme Court to “supersede” the Constitution of the United States of America. I see this as a stumbling block when it comes to our constitution as being the Supreme Law of our nation. For Example: The UN Small Arms Treaty, if enough Rinos join again with the likes of Sens. Shumer and Bernie Sanders side will remove any and all of our Rights, when the UN comes decides that these Rights get in the way of their progress. That Treaty will be ratified when the left thinks it has the votes in the Senate.
A Constitutional Amendment stating: “The is No Law, or Treaty that supersedes the Constitution of the United States of America”. Once this is put into our Constitution we as Americans will have sovereignty guaranteed, until then we live by a thread claiming we are sovereign citizens.

Phillip Nagle
Phillip Nagle
11 months ago

Just remember, we are now obligated to go to war to defend Montenegro. I would wager that a large majority of Americans have never heard of Montenegro and have no idea where it is. NATO was created to protect western Europe from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is no more. Russia is a relatively weak nation that can barely hold its own with Ukraine. It is time for NATO to go the way of the Soviet Union.

FedUp
FedUp
11 months ago

I can’t say this surprises me. For many years, the congress has been delegating their authorities to unelected (and now non-American) entities because they are too afraid of being held accountable for any decision they make. Or maybe they just don’t have the spine/guts/b***s to make these decisions!

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
11 months ago

Let their sons and daughters be the first to go… maybe Hunter could sell the enemy some of his spit art to fund the next war.

barney
barney
11 months ago

Does anyone question that our Government has been taken over by the ONE WORLD ORDER? When our politicians give away our Sovernty to powers that can’t find the time or the money to defend themselves and can get us into a war by their say so. We have politicians who want to sign the United Nations Small Arms Ban. Between these two policies alone, we have given away our rights to be free. We the voters are about to be destroyed by our own complacency and corrupt officials who we were too lazy to vet before we elected them. GOD, HELP US FOR WE KNOW NOT WHAT WE DO!

Philip Seth Hammersley
Philip Seth Hammersley
11 months ago

Biden has combined a (worse-than) Watergate domestic corruption situation with a Vietnam-style foreign relations situation! Only a totally FUBAR person could achieve that!

deb
deb
11 months ago

Congress passing their responsibility to declare war to NATO is what the globalists want and our poshiiit senators suck our tax money to live like kings and do nothing or it. The senators need to be held responsible for all wars whether or not they shove it onto NATO. This is TREASON! We need to somehow spread what they are doing to the masses – somehow get Tucker to discuss it. Also, get the young generation to realize that the military draft will be back and they will be forced to die for NATO.

Ralph
Ralph
11 months ago

Looks as if no one wants to represent the American citizens any longer. We are just giving our country away for nothing.

JIM
JIM
11 months ago

Did you notice the recent partnering of Russia and China?

jimm
jimm
11 months ago

NATO was formed to counter thecSoviet Threat to Europe, particularly through the Fulda Gap. That threat no longer exists. There has never been a conflict where NATO was not useless. US support for NATO should be withdrawn…ended…kaput. NATO is now an expensive, useless, anachronism.

The forgotten man
The forgotten man
11 months ago

More shenanigans from this convoluted body of fools.by delegating power to America’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies in Europe.
Does that mean Nato will conduct the drafting of men as well?

Suz
Suz
11 months ago

This is why we need EVERY AMERICAN CITIZEN to vote all of these losers out!,,,Get them out of office. A talking mule would be better. Make elections require voter ID so that all these voting cards given to illegals coming in at the boarder can’t be used to vote..they already get our tax dollars. Whether you are Conservative, liberal, independent or what ever. Get off your rears and stop whining and let’s get our nation back and on the right track. To America being the feared power and not to mess with us. Khrushchev said he would take America without firing a shot…we will bury you from within….how prophetic was that. It sure is happening now if we don’t reverse the last 3 years and get us back to God and Country. You that don’t like America, get the heck out .

SusanP
SusanP
11 months ago

If your senator voted against Senator Paul’s Amendment, then that senator needs to be removed from office at the next election cycle. This nation cannot afford cowardice in the Senate. NATO should never have any power greater than the U. S. Constitution. Every elected official must be held accountable for the decisions he/she makes and how he/she votes on every question.

Casey C Matt
Casey C Matt
11 months ago

What sane Congressman would want the authority to send the dreadful excuse for what we call a military currently, into war? I watched what appeared to be a propaganda film aboard what appeared to be a Navy cruiser yesterday. Half the personnel were either women or some “mix gendered” version thereof judging by the size and general body shape. Of the total of all the sailors shown a large number were a bit on the “thick” side, as in FAT. So…..this is todays “woke” military. I am sure the people we are determined to make our enemies are shaking and shivering at the very sight of this……clown party.
And go to war? We have given substantial quantities of equipment to Ukraine, a good portion of which is now destroyed and rusting on the Ukraine steppe. Our petroleum reserves are the lowest in history and as a nation we cannot afford to refill that reserve at present and soon to rapidly increase, prices. So……..Brandon better get gowing on that “all electric: military he talked about last year….but someone clue him in on how the electricity to charge those batteries come from and on what those power plants run on…….the stuff we DONT HAVE!!
So let the drooling crook we had implanted in the White House take full responsibility for some future war. He is already on the hook for disasters in Afghanistan and Ukraine and has the entirety of the middle east hating our guts (including Israel), the vast majority of Africa and all of southeast Asia with the possible exception of Thailand where the US just installed a puppet President with good ole American money hot off the printing press.

Joel
Joel
11 months ago

I would call them swamp creatures. Their political positions have so much money to offer them by serving a minority rather than their constituents. Why do you think they hate President Trump so much? I think the answer is obvious.

Allen B
Allen B
11 months ago

I fail to see the names of the two “conservative” senators from Idaho on the list. It’s time to elect Senators that will honor their oath of office to protect and defend the US Constitution!

Pete from St Pete
Pete from St Pete
11 months ago

I was proud to see that of Florida’s senators Rubio supported Paul’s bill but am disappointed in Senator Scot.

Jerry Todd
Jerry Todd
11 months ago

We’ll presented. It’s also a warning as to the Senate’s seriousness about their oaths.

Garyk
Garyk
11 months ago

Accountability and transparency of EVERY vote and action of EVERY elected representative!
EVERY tax dollar should be easily tracked from collection to exactly what it was spent on.
The size of Washington’s bureaucracy, state and local governments is absurd.Librarians are paid $100k !
The lack of oversight by Citizens has allowed these self serving, career politicians to fleece America by enriching themselves and their pals.

SJB
SJB
11 months ago

Congress is happy to allow judges, unelected bureaucrats, and now NATO to make decisions for them so they can have plausible deniability for any decisions that go bad. They are cowards shirking their responsibilities. Vote the bums out! Term limits!

John Bass
John Bass
11 months ago

 Americans place a sacred trust in our elected representatives to put the country above all else, including their own reelection.
PLEASE, give me a break man! Our representatives don’t give a rat’s @$$ other than getting reelected and padding their pockets. I’m sorry but W.J. Lee and anyone else that believes otherwise, lives in la, la land.
God save the USA.

Melinda
Melinda
11 months ago

This is truly an abdication of responsibility. We are already in a proxy war with Russia, with Ukraine doing the dirty work. We are merely funding it while pretending to keep our hands clean. This administration will lead us into full blown war, with a lack of resources to fight it. I’d love to vote out my senators but there are too many liberals in this state (WA).

JIM
JIM
11 months ago

Maybe I skimmed over it but have you the vote by party… Socialists, Republicans, Rinos? jHb

Gayle
Gayle
11 months ago

So we taxpayers pay their salary for what? For them to pass on their sworn obligation to represent us? This is outrageous. Let’s hear it for term limits, then no one has to worry about being re-elected and we can have some assurance that we count!

Thinking
Thinking
11 months ago

Well there you go. Power to ole Joe. To wage war where he sees fit. Or those that paid him bribes. We are doomed either way. And our young men and women in the service will be the victims.

anna hubert
anna hubert
11 months ago

League of nation was created to end the world conflicts To arbitrate to get along with one another and sing kumbaya around the fire This is not happening So men either do not want to get along or the war machine which is power will not allow it

phoenix
phoenix
11 months ago

lol. This is not new. No one actually “declares” war anymore. Whatever it is we do Congress should do it However They gave it up long ago. To useless euphemism like “kinetic action and “use of force etc…
They don’t actually want to say “war” and get blamed when YOUR CHILDREN DIE FROM IT.

Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis
11 months ago

Why hasn’t a Republican Representative asked the Supreme Court whether this is lawful?

BOB Philippi
BOB Philippi
11 months ago

That was not a “great idea” Congress should “declare” if we go to war!!!!

Jeanette
Jeanette
11 months ago

Personallly..why war anyway?..can’t we get along? Power hungry and greedy always get rich due to war. Time we learned to get along.

Dele
Dele
11 months ago

Congress needs total back the responsibility of war powers. The presidents from Bush, Obama and Biden have really screwed things up in our military for many years.The Congress needs to grow a spine and be what our Constitution demands they be or we’ll continue to have weakness throughout the branches of government. E.g. would you trust Biden to declare (or not) war?!

JIM
JIM
11 months ago

nEw WoRlD oRdEr… ptf…

Cathleen
Cathleen
11 months ago

I notice Todd Young (IN) has once again proven himself to be on the wrong side of the issue. Where’s your vote with the reps that understand our constitution?

1960s and 2020s; history repeats itself
Helena, Montana / November 3, 2020: Woman election official directing voter where to park and vote, man in vehicle holding ballot, voting from car outside polling station, poll worker
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