Who Declares War?

The Constitution grants Congress the authority to declare war. Yet Congress has all but ceded its responsibilities and the executive branch gains ever more power to authorize military action overseas. We are left with decades of administrations of both parties using unchecked force, and cashing a “blank check for war.” 

Since the attacks of 9/11, the U.S. has sent troops into combat in more than a dozen countries, but without any official war declaration. How did we get here? In this video, Representative Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and Harvard’s Stephen Walt explore how the early Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMFs) — passed during a period of national mourning two decades ago — have led to a moment where America finds itself perpetually at war.


This post is part of Independent America, a research project led out by EGF senior fellow Mark Hannah, which seeks to explore how U.S. foreign policy could better be tailored to new global realities and to the preferences of American voters.