Congressional Foreign Policy in Times of Crisis

A look at the presidential and congressional powers during times of crisis in the history of the United States.

This paper examines the role of presidential and congressional powers in times of crisis in American history and finds that when crisis occurs, the legislative branch defers to the executive branch to make the first move, and then usually supports it. The paper describes how this policy has worked during many times of crisis from the Civil War, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II until the present day’s invasion of Iraq.
Just two years into the new millennium has dawned, it does not appear to be the long-waited season of peace and brotherhood envisioned by many. Just nine months into the new era, the world was shocked by the attacks of September 11th. Such was the outrage of the American people represented by the Congress that it (that body) deferred it’s foreign policy making processes to the Executive Branch. A new bully had come to town and the town (Congress) in effect sent for the marshal. Congress has reverted back to a supporting a foreign policy towards Iraq and other Axis of Evil nations that is not containment but of invasion. It is doing so by following a procedure it has always followed in times of crises: Follow The Leader. For those who remember the often printed quote Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it understand that history of democratic governments, from the ancient republics of Greece and Rome to the modern states that have replaced earlier totalitarian governments, show that governing by committees, or legislative bodies, never works in times of crisis (Dean).