Volume XXXI – Number 2
Ngozi Caleb Kamalu
In the area of U.S. foreign policy, overlapping provisions tend to put the Executive and Legislative branches at odds. During the Vietnam War, Presidents Johnson and Nixon had both failed to notify Congress before taking significant military action. In response, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution of 1973. The War Powers Resolution spelled out the dividing lines and parameters between the constitutional power of Congress to declare war and the constitutional powers of the President during wartime. No President has accepted the constitutionality of the War Powers Act, as demonstrated by the evacuation of Saigon in 1975 and the American experience in Lebanon. During the Gulf conflict, President Bush circumvented the War Powers Resolution by claiming his introduction of troops to Saudi Arabia was a defensive measure. Congress attempted to assert itself, however it was too late for Congress to check the power of President Bush without appearing to abandon support for the troops in action. Congress eventually gave approval to the President’s policy in the Gulf, demonstrating that in a struggle between the executive and legislative branches, the President makes policy and Congress legitimizes it.
Keywords: President, Congress, Foreign Policy, Gulf War, War Powers Act