Article of the Day: Who gives permission to go to war?

Take the few minutes and watch this testimony given by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

In this video the Secretary of Defense revealed an astounding point of view on the use of military force by the United States:

  1. The US must gain permission from the UN, NATO, or another coalition of nations to serve as the legal basis for conducting a military operation
  2. That with a “legal basis” for action from the UN, NATO, or another international coalition, the President can order US forces into combat without the permission and consent of the Congress


The Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, stated that the military would always be used to defend the USA.  General Dempsey stated that a legal basis for using the military would be with

  1. The consent of the government of the country we would place troops in
  2. National self defense, as ordered by the President
  3. With some kind of international legal basis, a UN Security Counsel Resolution

Since when should we deploy troops when it is not in our vital national interests?  Since when does a UN resolution overrule the Congress with respect to going to war?

(Now to be fair, there has been no declaration of war by the US since World War II.  Everything since then has been authorized through Congressional Resolutions, but in the last 20 years presidents have chosen to use only a UN Security Counsel Resolution without  Congressional approval – Lybia, Liberia, Hati, Bosnia)

This begs several questions:

  • Is the US fully sovereign?
  • Should we be using military force when it is not in our vital national interests?
  • What does the Oath to the Constitution our airmen take mean when the President orders you to start bombing, absent a  declaration of war and with the Congress actively opposing  the action?

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