U.S. senator calls on Congress to reclaim constitutional warmaking power after visiting Korean peninsula

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a retired lieutenant colonel who lost her legs during the Iraq War when insurgents downed her helicopter, recently gave a speech at Georgetown University on the dangers of rushing to war with North Korea and called on Congress to reclaim its constitutional war-making authority.

Duckworth gave her speech after visiting South Korea and sought to highlight the risks of war with North Korea. In addition to calling for increased U.S. military readiness, she also said the Trump administration should defer to a diplomatic solution over choosing war.

“Much of what will unfold in the region during the coming months is still uncertain, but one thing was made clear: Kim Jong-un poses a serious and deadly threat to millions of people in the Korean peninsula and in the United States, and the prospect of war is far more dangerous—and far more likely—than many Americans realize,” said Duckworth.

She said “diplomatic off-ramps” were still available as alternatives to a pre-emptive military strike, something that President Trump is said to be considering. As long as those off-ramps exist—and they do—it’s vital that the United States and her allies give diplomatic efforts every chance to succeed,” Duckworth continued.

“We need to restore accountability and transparency to how we entangle ourselves in these conflicts, as well as to countless other matters of war and peace. Congress must uphold its constitutional responsibilities, as it seems that some of our leaders may have forgotten about one very important part of the United States Constitution,” she added.

“Americans simply are not in touch with just how close we are to war on the Korean peninsula,” she said in her speech. [source]

Analysis: We thank the senator for her service and certainly she has given more in the cause of fighting for freedom than even most service members. But is her call for Congress to ‘regain its constitutional war-making role’ genuine or is it political grandstanding? It’s so hard to tell these days because there is so much of the latter.

The fact is, the president — whoever it is — already has the constitutional authority to defend the nation if credibly threatened or attacked, as commander-in-chief. Moreover, the American people would expect a president to do so, sans congressional permission.

The fact is, the days of deliberating whether to declare war on an enemy not yet equipped with intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads that can reach their targets in 20 to 30 minutes are over. Perhaps a better use of Congress’ time is to craft new legislation — or a new constitutional amendment — that would address this reality. — JD

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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