05/14/2012 (18:00 - 19:30) · Duisburg · Campus Buildung LS
Lecture & Discussion
Duisburg: »Presidential War Power«
The Amerika Haus e.V. NRW cordially invited in cooperation with the Käte Hamburger Kolleg to a lecture and discussion with Dr. Louis Fisher.
According to the United States Constitution, the authority to declare war is vested into Congress. The President on the other hand is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Dr. Louis Fisher finds that in practice a shift in competence has taken place over the course of several decades, which has enabled the President to act more autonomously in matters of warfare. Therefore, the constitutional power of Congress has been overlooked and does not exercise the role the framers of the Constitution indented for it.
On May 14, 2012 students and attendees interested in politics came to the NRW School of Governance to listen to Dr. Fisher’s lecture on “Presidential War Power”. Dr. Fisher’s lecture consisted of three sections. The students and attendees were encouraged to discuss Dr. Fisher’s statements throughout the Lecture.
First, he illuminated the background and philosophical foundation of the framers of the US-Constitution. Dr. Fisher explained that they were convinced of the idea of self government, that is, for the citizens to be relatively independent from Washington or London. In the Constitution, he said, Congress and President are both assigned different, clearly separated powers in case of war. Until 1950 the clear separation of powers was observed. But since President Harry S. Trueman’s solo effort in the Korean War the interpretation of the Constitution had changed and Presidents have started to act more autonomously, so the speaker pointed out. President Trueman had received his “authorization” to go to war from the UN-Security Council, Dr. Fisher said. But according to international law and to the Constitution, the UN-Security Council cannot authorize the President.
The lecturer further elaborated that several Presidents have used strategic wording in order to euphemize military action. The Clinton Administration for example had referred to the action against Iraq as the “use of military force”, but not “war”. Therefore, the administration had declared that an authorization by Congress would not be needed. Dr. Fisher criticized this practice by stating that by relabeling of military campaigns, any war could be defined as a “non-war”, in the execution of which the president would have a free hand. With this in mind, one should also have to view the mission in Libya.
In a concluding discussion, Dr. Fisher answered questions from the audience.
Summary: Julia Große-Vorholt, Amerika Haus e.V. NRW
Dr. Louis Fisher focuses on national security, constitutional law, separation of powers, and budget policy. Currently, Dr. Fisher is Scholar in Residence at the Constitution Project, a think tank located in Washington D.C.. He worked at the Library of Congress as Senior Specialist in Separation of Powers for four decades. During this period, he has been invited to testify before Congress about 50 times, advising on such issues as allocation of powers and foreign conflicts.
Moderation: Dr. Markus Böckenförde, LL.M., Manager of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg
Amerika Haus e.V. NRW
Telephone: 0221 – 169 26 350 │ Fax: 0221 – 169 26 308
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org │ www.amerikahaus-nrw.de
With generous support from the U.S. Embassy in Germany and the U.S. Consulate General in Düsseldorf