Shank, Cases 17, 18:   Foreign Policy Study Guide .5


A.     Separation of Powers and the War Powers

When the Framers wrote the Constitution they gave Congress the power to declare war in Article I..  Article II grants authority to the President to be commander in chief of the armed forces.  This illustrates what the framers called separation of powers—no one person or group of people has all the power.  Even with respect to war, the president’s power is shared with the 435 members of Congress.  The Framers felt that separation of powers would check and balance the power of both the President and Congress.  The commander in chief, the President would have to ask Congress to declare war. 


In U.S. history, the President has rarely Congress to declare war--most recently to declare World War II that ended in 1945.  However, Presidents have initiated small and large scale military actions, sometimes known as police actions, in other countries without first going to Congress.  These have included troops into hostile foreign territories. One example was President Truman sending US air, naval and ground forces to South Korea to resist military action from North Korea without asking Congress.  A second example was President Kennedy ordering military action against Fidel Castro in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs without letting Congress know.


A1.  What is separation of powers?

A2.  What article gives Congress the power to declare war?

A3.  Which article authorizes the President to be commander in chief of the armed        forces?    

A4.  Which president sent US troops to South Korea?

A5.  Which president ordered military action against Cuba?


B. Congress approved the War Powers Act in 1973 in response to President Nixon’s action to bomb Cambodia (also known as Kampuchea) during the Vietnam War. This act required presidents to consult Congress before sending US troops into hostilities abroad.  This act gives Congress a position to negotiate with the president regarding how long troops will remain and when they will be returned from military action.  The War Powers Act required the president to return troops within sixty days.  If the president exceeds this limit, he must ask an extension.  Presidents Nixon to Clinton have opposed the War Powers Act because they believe it is an intrusion on their constitutional power to act as commander in chief.


B1.  What is the War Powers Act?

B2.  When did Congress approve the War Powers Act?

B3.  What is the required time for the president to return U.S. troops?

B4.   If a president does not return troops within 60 days, what must he do?

B5.  What presidents oppose the War Powers Act?

B6.  Why did they oppose it?


Evolution of Presidential War Powers




C.  President Truman

The Constitution gives the president authority to act as chief of the armed forces.  US presidents believed that it is their inherent power to send troops overseas if they believe that the US national security interest is threatened.  The Communist North Korea invaded South Korea in hope to join all of Korea under communist rule.  President Truman in 1950 did not ask Congress to declare war against North Korea.  As authorized by the United Nations, he sent U.S. air, naval and ground forces to aid South Korea against North Korea’s invasion.  Truman wanted to contain the spread of communism. Truman told Congress that his actions were in the interest of US foreign policy.


C1.  Who sent U.S. military forces to assist South Korea?

C2.  What country invaded South Korea?

C3.  What part of Korea is under Communist rule?

C4.  What was President Truman attempting to contain?



D.     President Eisenhower

President Eisenhower sought approval from Congress to support US military involvement in the Middle East.  Congress approved the Eisenhower Doctrine, which authorized the president to use U.S. troops to assist Middle East nations who were requesting help against communist threats.  President Eisenhower used his authority to send U.S. troops to Lebanon in 1957 during the Cold War.


D1.  What Doctrine did Congress approve?

D2.  Which American President sent troops to the Middle East in 1957?

D3.  Why did the Middle East nation request help from U.S.?

D4.  President Eisenhower sent U.S. troops to what country?



E.     President Kennedy

President Kennedy ordered a naval blockade around Cuba in 1962 to prevent Soviet ships from bringing missiles to Cuba.  He ordered military action without notifying Congress.  The Cuban missile crisis brought U.S. and the Soviet Union to the brink of World War III.  President Kennedy explained that secrecy and quick decisiveness was needed to convince the Soviets to stop arming Cuba with nuclear missiles.


E1.  Which American president ordered a naval blockade around Cuba?

E2.  What country did the president prevent from bringing missiles to Cuba?

E3.  What event almost brought U.S. and Soviet Union to the verge of World War III?

E4.  What was President Kennedy’s purpose for not informing Congress about the naval         blockage in Cuba?



F.      President Johnson and Nixon

In 1964, during the Cold War that ended in 1989, Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution because Communist North Vietnam invaded anti-Communist South Vietnam.  Under the resolution, Johnson sent a massive number of US troops and materials to support South Vietnam.  When President Nixon took office in 1969, he promised to reduce U.S. involvement in Indochina.  However, he secretly bombed Cambodia. After years without U.S. success, Congress approved legislation to bring about an end to the Vietnam War by withdrawal U.S. military forces  As a result of U.S. withdrawal, South Vietnam fell and Vietnam was united under Communist rule.


F1.  What resolution was approved by Congress?

F2.  Under which American president was the resolution approved?

F3.  What part of Vietnam was anti-communist?

F4.  What country did President Nixon secretly bomb?

F5.  What amendment did Congress approve in 1971?

F6.  The anti-communist South Vietnam fell to what country?


G.  Presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan

In 1975, Communist invaded Cambodia and took captive of the American ship, the Mayaguez.  President Ford ordered an attack and sent U.S. troops to rescue the Mayaguez and its crew members.  President Jimmy Carter sent a team in 1980 to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran ruled by the Ayatollah Khomeini. However, the attempt failed.  In 1982, President Reagan sent marines to Lebanon as a peacekeeping force.


G1.  President Ford sent troops to rescue what American ship and its members?

G2.  What did President Carter attempt to do in 1980?

G3.  Which U.S. president sent marines to Lebanon?


H.  President Bush

In 1980, Iraq invaded Iran.  During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, the U.S. favored Iraq under dictator Saddam Hussein because “[t]he main goal of the U.S….was to prevent Iran from becoming the dominant force in the [Persian]Gulf and spreading its radical Islamic theology” (Shank page, 225.  On August 20, 1988, the Iran-Iraq war ended. Saddam began threatening and soon invaded Kuwait. Congress gave President Bush authority to use of ground troops to aid Kuwait. Bush forced Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.  The war against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was the largest U.S. military action since the Vietnam War.  President Bush ended the war in 100 hours.


H1.  What year did Iraq invade Iran?

H2.  What was the main goal of U.S. and other regions to prevent Iran from becoming the         dominant force in the Gulf?

H3.  Who was the dictator of Iran?

H4.  Who was the dictator of Iraq?

H5.  What year did the Iran-Iraq war end?

H6.  What country did Saddam invade after the Iran-Iraq war?

H7.  What war had the largest military action since the Vietnam War?

President Bush has been praised for ending the war in 100 hours. 

·        “The United Nations achieved its goal of forcing Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.”

·        “Fulfilling the major UN goal of liberating Kuwait.” 

·        “For his humaneness in not killing fleeing, defenseless Iraqi troops.”

·        “For his decisive leadership at home and abroad.”

·        “For protecting vital U.S. oil interests” (Shank 234).


President Bush has been criticized for ending the war in 100 hours

·        “For leaving Saddam in power and his WMD (weapons of mass destruction) intact.”

·        “For not destroying the Republican Guard.”

·        “For urging Kurds and Shiites to topple the Iraqi dictator without supporting them.

·        “Ending the war in 100 hours left many loose ends” (Shank, page 234).



I.  President Clinton

In 1993, Congress demanded withdrawal of U.S. peacekeeping force from Somalia following rebel attacks on U.S. troops and the downing of two U.S. helicopters.  After eighteen U.S. Army Rangers were killed, Congress approved a deadline to return the troops.  Clinton returned U.S. troops within six months and in 1994 the presence of U.S. military in Somalia ended.  In 1994, Clinton ordered military planes to transport troops to Haiti to restore President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to office.  U.S. troops arrived as peacekeeping rather than military force.  Clinton deployed armed forces in the U.S.-led NATO to intervene military in Kosovo.  In April 1999 the House voted to require President Clinton to obtain Congressional approval before sending troops, but refused to support NATO airstrikes.  The House also rejected the resolution to declare war against Yugoslavia.  The Senate had earlier approved NATO airstrikes, but postponed action on resolution to give Clinton all authority to win the war against Serbian repression in Kosovo.


I1.  In 1993, where was U.S. troops sent to keep peace?

I2.  Why did Congress demand the withdrawal of U.S. peacekeeping force?

I3.  Which American president sent troops to Somalia and Haiti?

I4.  What country did Clinton deploy armed forces as military intervention?

I5.  What did the House refuse to support President Clinton?

I6.  The House refused to declare war against what country?