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The cultivation of collective judgment in the decision-making on war: the US Congress and contingently manifested war powers


Anna Kronlund

The Finnish Institute of International Affairs, FI
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The subject of parliamentary war powers has sparked debates of late. The role of the US Congress in making US foreign policy and in war-making has been the focus of numerous studies. Debates on the “war-making” powers of the US Congress and the President have also been topical in the United States recently. The actions of Barack Obama's administration in the context of Libya (2011), Syria (2013) and, more recently, the discussion on the need to have a new authorization for the use of force because of ISIS, have again ignited discussion about the powers of the President as the Commander-in-Chief vis-à-vis the powers of Congress. The topical question is whether and when the President should seek congressional authorization for the use of the US armed forces. This paper claims that Congress has constitutionally established war powers, but they are contingently manifested. In order to explicate this, the paper explores the procedures of congressional involvement in war-making, the term used in congressional debates in the early 1970s when the War Powers Resolution was enacted, and illustrates congressional debates on the war powers between the branches of government. The selected congressional debates on, and the procedures of, congressional actions related to the possible use of force authorizations in relation to Libya (2011) and Syria (2013) are examined more specifically to explicate the (plausible) role of Congress. In so doing, the paper draws on both political and theoretical aspects of discussions on US Congress war powers.

How to Cite: Kronlund, Anna. 2015. “The Cultivation of Collective Judgment in the Decision-making on War: The US Congress and Contingently Manifested War Powers”. Redescriptions: Political Thought, Conceptual History and Feminist Theory 18 (1): 74–104. DOI:
Published on 01 Mar 2015.
Peer Reviewed


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