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Über dieses Buch

This book features a lively debate between two prominent scholars—Michael A. Genovese and David Gray Adler—on the critical issue of whether the Constitution, written in the 18th Century, remains adequate to the national security challenges of our time. The question of the scope of the president’s constitutional authority—if any—to initiate war on behalf of the American people, long the subject of heated debate in the corridors of power and the groves of academe, has become an issue of surpassing importance for a nation confronted by existential threats in an Age of Terrorism. This question should be thoroughly reviewed and debated by members of Congress, and considered by all Americans before they are asked to go to war. If the constitutional allocation of powers on matters of war and peace is outdated, what changes should be made? Is there a need to increase presidential power? What role should Congress play in the war on terror?



1. War and American Democracy

The beginning of the book sets the background for the discussion and debate that follows. The book opens with the new challenges posed by a post-9/11 world in which terrorism is the new enemy. We look at an old problem—the war power—in light of new circumstances—terrorism. To draw insights into the contemporary controversy, we look back at the Framers of the American system and what they sought to do at the Constitutional Convention to “tame the dogs of war.” This led to the Framers giving to Congress, not the president, the sole authority to authorize or declare war. We explore the debates and decisions made by the Framers, discuss the ratification debate, and how the assertion of the war power has changed over time.
Michael A. Genovese, David Gray Adler

2. Prescriptions for a New Age

Here, Michael Genovese presents his agenda to reform the war powers in light of the new demands of a new age. He calls for slightly more presidential authority, and a different form of accountability for the president’s decisions on war. Arguing that the eighteenth-century Constitution is not well suited for a twenty-first-century superpower facing the threat of terrorism, Genovese calls for a more muscular presidency, but one still enchained by congressional accountability.
Michael A. Genovese, David Gray Adler

3. The Relevance of the War Clause and the Rule of Law in Our Time

The constitutional grant to Congress—not to the president—of authority to initiate war on behalf of the American people remains adequate to our national security needs in the age of terrorism. The argument for further concentration of power in the president ignores the practice of presidential usurpation of the war power, which has become commonplace, and rests on mistaken assumptions of executive perception, judgment, expertise, and the need for immediate military actions. It ignores as well the fact that unilateral presidential decision-making has resulted in tragic wars. The constitutional arrangement on matters of war and peace rightly exalts congressional discussion and debate—collective decision-making—over the judgment of a single person before the nation is plunged into war.
Michael A. Genovese, David Gray Adler

4. Prescriptions for Protecting the Constitutional Design for War

The national security challenges in the age of terrorism do not compel constitutional change. On the contrary, what is required is governmental adherence to those provisions that govern war and peace and national security. In Federalist No. 51, James Madison observed that the great challenge confronting America in 1787 was obliging the government to obey the Constitution. That remains the great challenge in our time. Presidents must stop aggrandizing the war power, and Congress must reassert its constitutional authority in the area of war, foreign affairs, and national security. The resurgence of Congress, engagement in vigorous discussion and debate, may well depend upon an aroused citizenry—one committed to the virtues and values of American Constitutionalism and the rule of law, one willing to hold government accountable for the performance of its constitutional responsibilities.
Michael A. Genovese, David Gray Adler


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