James Madison knew that kings became tyrants through war. He fervently believed that by keeping the war-waging power in the hands of the president and the war-making power in the hands of Congress, the Constitution would serve as a bulwark against tyranny. Madison is instructive for us today as President Obama decides whether to ask the nation to go to war or to order hostilities on his own.
Yet in addition to Madison's fears about foreign wars leading to domestic tyranny, there are profoundly practical reasons why war is a decision for Congress alone, argues Andrew Napolitano. War often has surprise endings and unexpected human, geopolitical, and financial consequences. A debate in Congress will air them. It will assure that the government considers all rational alternatives to war and that the nation is not pushed into a costly and bloody venture with its eyes shut. A congressional debate will compel a written national objective tied to American freedom.