Two former U.S. Secretaries of State are recommending that the United
States change its procedures for deciding to go to war. VOA's Kent
Klein reports from Washington.
James Baker and Warren
Christopher say a U.S. president should be required by law to consult
with Congress before going to war. And they want to require Congress
to approve or disapprove the action within 30 days.
Secretary of State under Republican President George H.W. Bush, and
Christopher held the same office under Democratic President Bill
Clinton. Together, they led a year-long study by the National War
Baker says the commission believes the 1973 War Powers Resolution needs to be replaced.
think that the rule of law, which is, of course, a centerpiece of
American democracy, is undermined and is damaged when the main statute
in this vital policy area is regularly questioned or ignored," said
The 1973 legislation was a response to the Vietnam
War. Baker and Christopher say it is ineffective and
unconstitutional. They say no president has ever recognized its
constitutionality, Congress has never challenged it, and the Supreme
Court has never ruled on it.
The U.S. Constitution designates
the president as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, but gives
Congress the power to control war funding.
proposed by Baker and Christopher's commission would require a
president to consult with Congress before sending troops into combat
for more than a week. It would also create a Joint Congressional
Consultation Committee, with members of both houses of Congress.
Christopher says this would include Congress in an important decision.
statute gives Congress a seat at the table, in deciding whether or not
to go to war - not just a seat at the table, but one with a permanent
staff, a permanent professional staff, and access to all the available
intelligence information," said Warren Christopher.
The commission's proposal would also call for Congress to approve or disapprove any "significant armed conflict" within 30 days.
Baker said the plan is not directed toward any particular conflict in which the U.S. has been involved.
Republican Congressman Lee Hamilton, a commission member, says the
group hopes the legislation can be passed by Congress and signed by the
president next year.
"We think it would be a marvelous piece of
legislation for the next president and the next Congress to enact early
on, as a signal of bipartisanship in this country, on a national
security issue," said Lee Hamilton.
A new opinion poll shows
79 percent of Americans think the president should be required to have
approval from Congress before sending troops into combat outside the