The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence. . . . To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water; . . . To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
~Article 1, Section 8
The Congress, and only the Congress, has the constitutional authority to declare war. The Constitution is careful to identify that branch of government which alone has the authority to involve the United States of America in military action.
During emergencies or perceived emergencies, however, people sometimes forget about the Constitution. Congress forgets about it most of the time, whether in war or peace. Precedents are established during periods of crisis, especially wartime, that undermine the Constitution, as well as the requirement to honor it.
If the Congress is unwilling to vote a formal declaration of war, our country should not go to war.
We should conduct ourselves so that those in other countries admire us, our liberty, and the goods we offer in trade; so that they seek to emulate our liberty and prosperity; and so that they realize that an attack upon our country would be met with overwhelming force by the finest military that has ever existed. This would assure that we can live in peace and extend our way of life to other peoples – by example, not by force.
Being prepared for war – being so well prepared that potential enemies are deterred – is the best way to keep the peace. These preparations should be directed and guided by the best of our military professionals, not the most powerful of our politicians. And, war itself should be undertaken only when it is absolutely necessary for the defense of our country and after approval as specified in the Constitution.
We live in a dangerous world. So, we should not reduce our military defense. If, however, those resources are spent more wisely and are spent where possible within our borders, the effective economic burden will be reduced.