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Tom Mullen: Why does Ron Paul insist on a declaration of war?

TAMPA, August 14, 2012 – Ron Paul insists that the U.S. government shouldn’t go to war without a declaration of war by Congress. His son Rand has also taken this position, as have a few other libertarian-leaning Republican candidates. The U.S. Constitution delegates the declaration of war power to the Congress, but they have not exercised this power since WWII.

Why is this important?

Most people misunderstand the declaration of war power as “permission” to start a war. By that definition, George W. Bush argued that H.J. Res. 114 (October 16, 2002) fulfilled this constitutional requirement regarding the Iraq War. With that resolution, Congress authorized the president to use military force in the war on terror.

The declaration of war power is not the power to start a war. It is the power to declare that a state of war already exists. This can only be true if the nation in question has committed overt acts of war against the United States.


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Doesn't SJ RES 23 fit this

Doesn't SJ RES 23 fit this bill? IT spefically authorizes the President to go after those responsible for the attacks on September 11th

Plan for eliminating the national debt in 10-20 years:


Specific cuts; defense spending:

I'd have to say no...

...since it doesn't specify who we're at war with, who we were attacked by, etc. It's merely a blank check for the executive to commence hostilities against...whoever it determines is appropriate to be hostile to.

We were not attacked by another nation, we were supposedly attacked by an extra-national organization - that we've since lent aid to (which, according to the text of the Resolution I believe, makes us complicit and eligible to use our own military forces against?).

Well, it specifies those who

Well, it specifies those who attacked us after 9-11, specifically because unlike in previous historical events, it wasn't one nation that attacked us. Would it have been better to have specifically targeted Afghanistan?

I get what you are saying, in that it reads like a blank check. But ultimately, if the President abuses his power, it is up to Congress, the SC, and the PEOPLE to check him.

From what I've read, the wording of the resolution has allowed the President to deploy special forces and drones in countries like Syria, Pakistan, etc. without any kind of approval. Bush tried to get Guantanomo and torture approved under it, but the Supreme Court rebuffed him.

Plan for eliminating the national debt in 10-20 years:


Specific cuts; defense spending:

We're quibbling here

But I have to disagree, respectfully. It didn't specify anyone, it merely authorized action against anyone the *president* determines was responsible for the attacks - then casts such a broad net that, as with most federal dictates, anyone with the will to do so can bend as they see fit.

Agreed that we and Congress should have paid attention to keep things in check, but apparently it's an easy thing to make almost an entire nation lose their minds.

But no, I don't think specifically targeting Afghanistan - or anyone else here - would have been a better option, since as you point out, it wasn't a specific nation that attacked us. A better option would have been the Letters of Marque and Reprisal as presented by Paul - or otherwise taking a deep breath, realizing where our defense deficiencies were and shoring them up, and realizing how we might have indirectly and unwittingly prompted such action against ourselves.

Then, once our intelligence teams had an actual chance to work and real facts could be ascertained, determining appropriate action of limited scope to bring them to justice.

But authoring an open-ended permission to do almost whatever one will with no set target in a rush of fear and anger was idiotic. The resolution in question by no means squares with or valid declarations of war as it specifies no known target (thus allowing ambitious adventurism and "mission creep") and no limits on duration (as those in control can always merely fabricate others being involved, however indirectly, and resume mission creep).

Prior declarations of war always clearly recognized who had initiated hostilities against us and advised that action was authorized until such brought those hostilities to an end. This resolution, however, offers no such closure - it specifies that it it being authorized to prevent any future acts of terrorism by such loosely-specified entities as covered...which effectively means perpetual war since those in control are well aware that they're never going to stop doing the sorts of things that might make such people want to attack us in the first place.

Big blank check, with no implicit or even expected oversight by a neutered and complicit Congress and citizenry. Very much different from any declaration of war ever used by us previously, and deficient to them by pretty much all measures.

Thank you...

This was an enlightening read

Freedom is the answer !!
What's the question ?
-Jack Blood-

Everyone needs to know this about war powers.

Thank you for posting.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir

the muslims are not terrorist we need to bring our troops home and defend the Constitution ; )

Albert Camus — 'The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.'

Wonderful article. Great explanation.

The change in our attitude toward war has been huge.
This article brings it into sharp focus and strips away the intentional layers of confusion surrounding this issue.

The Virtual Conspiracy


This is one of the biggest reasons I'm such a fan of Dr. Paul despite not being a US citizen, and the 'attitude toward war' comment is exactly right. It needs to be faced a lot more, because it feels as though Americans are beginning to become ambivalent about war, since it doesn't affect them much if they don't know someone fighting.


the current wars USA wages were never wars to restore peace, but illegal agressions - illegal under Protocol II art. 3 of Geneva Convention - which USA didn't ratified, but nevertheless is bound by according to 1986 ICJ decision in Nicaragua case. Unfortunately rogue states of course don't care about a legality.

Here is a comment about war!

It is wrong. It is wrong every time. Every instance of war is wrong. This and that instance of war is wrong(Afghanistan and Iraq). Your instance of war is wrong!(I swear to Jesus fucking Christ!!!). My instance of war is wrong! (I swear to Jesus fucking Christ!!!). What instance of killing innocence is right? (I swear to Jesus fucking Christ!!!). This is my belief system and I hope it flows to underdeveloped belief systems because of the importance of preserving life.

Love thy enemy.

I think war is needed only

I think war is needed only when its dire. I disagree with everything the US is doing now, but some wars have to be fought or we wouldn't be here right now.



Love thy enemy.

Great post.

legalize, I think one reason you're not getting a lot of chatter on this is that Tom Mullen did a great job in showing how uncontroversial it should be to have wars at least be declared, if they are to happen at all. If you read through the comments on the original article, the only people disagreeing with him are the hopelessly clueless folks that think Iran will start sending its invincible hordes forth the second it gets a nuclear weapon (as if they were even trying to get one).

Although getting wars declared by congress would be a huge improvement over what currently happens, I think we'd still be exporting destruction all over the world even if that requirement was followed faithfully from now on. Tom Englehardt had posted something recently saying that 74% of Republicans, 60% of independents and 58% of liberals were okay with the use of drone warfare. The average American voter has become such a bloodthirsty monster that you can't expect anything better from the people that supposedly "represent" the ones they'd be sending to their deaths.

Bloodthirsty monster?

i wouldn't call my disillusioned friends, family, and neighbors monsters. they've been lied to and don't realize how horrible war really is. just like most pro-choicers--not monsters, just blissfully and many times purposefully unaware of the horror.

Christians should not be warmongers!

Good call

Definitely don't call your sleeping friends bloodthirsty monsters to their face. The two best ways to have your arguments ignored are to call people evil or to call them stupid. Understand that I honestly don't think I'm made of better stuff than they are; my bedroom was full of model fighters and tanks when I was a kid. I ate that crap up.
And yes, the Bill Kristols of the world are guilty of a far greater crime than the average person who is just chanting back "it's better to fight them over there than over here."

That said, it's absolutely barbaric to be dropping high explosives on people from 6 miles up, just because they live within a different set of imaginary lines. The fact is, awake or not, voters love war. I think it was Ralph Raico who wrote a great article about how the key to being remembered as a great leader is to send a lot of your citizens off to their death, a la Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Churchill.

key to being remembered as a great leader

"Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Churchill."
Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Obama, RMoney, etc...

Freedom is my Worship Word!


Thanks for a great comment.

Not many people even know there is a secret American drone war going on in Africa:

LL on Twitter:
sometimes LL can suck & sometimes LL rocks!
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

This secret drone war...

is less than a step away from me totally hating in hell do we stop it? By the by, people need some sort of action towards the actionable hatred...WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE ASKING FOR?!

Love thy enemy.

reedr3v's picture

Another important, educational article from Mullen


+ 5 and no comments?


LL on Twitter:
sometimes LL can suck & sometimes LL rocks!
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15