Not a coronation of our next commander
Your Aug. 18 edition contained a well researched and well-written article called, “Georgia hostility tests candidates’ diplomacy” (page 3), written by Joseph Curl and Donald Lambro. But it begins with, “The two senators auditioning for the role of commander in chief. . .”.
It seems to be the general belief that a person becomes “Commander in Chief” merely by winning an election. The current president, recent presidents, and all wanna-bes also think so. But if that were true, a president would, in effect, have his own private military force which he could send against any nation of his choosing, at any time he chose, at the nation’s expense in blood and money.
This idea evidently comes from a cursory reading of Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution which says, “1. The President shall be commander in chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States. . .” (There was no Air Force then.) The end of that statement, “when called into the actual service of the United States”, is the key to understanding the situation.
If the Founding Fathers of this great nation meant that a president should have the authority to commit the nation to war, and then claim the title of “Commander in Chief” because the military is then in “the actual service of the United States” it would be tantamount to giving him the authority to appoint himself “Commander in Chief,” making him, in effect, emperor. Is that really what the Founders had in mind?
To determine how the military may legally be called into service we need only refer to, Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution which says, “The Congress shall have the power: 11. To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal. . .”
In other words, only the Congress has the authority to commit the nation to war, by a declaration of war. And then, the President becomes “Commander in Chief” of the military.
The Constitution does not equate merely Congress’ approval of the president’s sending the nation to war as a declaration of war, as has been erroneously assumed.
Therefore, we have not had a Commander in Chief since Harry Truman. Whatever we think of Harry Truman makes no difference on this.