The Powers of War and Peace

John Yoo

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2005 | ISBN: 9780226960319
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226960333 | DOI:
The Powers of War and Peace

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  • Constitutional and Administrative Law


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Since the September 11 attacks on the United States, the Bush administration has come under fire for its methods of combating terrorism. Waging war against al Qaeda has proven to be a legal quagmire, with critics claiming that the administration's response in Afghanistan and Iraq is unconstitutional. The war on terror—and, in a larger sense, the administration's decision to withdraw from the ABM Treaty and the Kyoto accords—has had many wondering whether the constitutional framework for making foreign affairs decisions has been discarded by the present administration. This book makes the case for a completely new approach to understanding what the Constitution says about foreign affairs, particularly the powers of war and peace. Looking to American history, the author points out that from Truman and Korea to Clinton's intervention in Kosovo, American presidents have had to act decisively on the world stage without a declaration of war. They are able to do so because the Constitution grants the president, Congress, and the courts very different powers, requiring them to negotiate the country's foreign policy. The author roots his analysis in a reconstruction of the original understanding of the foreign affairs power and supplements it with arguments based on constitutional text, structure, and history. Blending historical arguments with current policy debates, the book will no doubt be debated. And while the questions it addresses are as old and fundamental as the Constitution itself, America's response to the September 11 attacks has renewed them with even greater force and urgency.

Keywords: September 11; United States; Bush administration; terrorism; foreign affairs; Afghanistan; Iraq; Constitution; declaration of war

Book.  378 pages. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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