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It Should Be Difficult In A Republic To Declare War

Posted by | March 9th, 2012

“War, in its best estate, never fails to impose upon the people the most burthensome taxes, and personal sufferings. It is always injurious, and sometimes subversive of the great commercial, manufacturing, and agricultural interests. Nay, it always involves the prosperity, and not unfrequently the existence, of a nation. It is sometimes fatal to public liberty itself, by introducing a spirit of military glory, which is ready to follow, wherever a successful commander will lead; and in a republic, whose institutions are essentially founded on the basis of peace, there is infinite danger, that war will find it both imbecile in defence, and eager for contest. Indeed, the history of republics has but too fatally proved, that they are too ambitious of military fame and conquest, and too easily devoted to the views of demagogues, who flatter their pride, and betray their interests. It should therefore be difficult in a republic to declare war; but not to make peace.”

Justice Joseph Story (Commentaries on The Constitution of The United States)

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4 thoughts on “It Should Be Difficult In A Republic To Declare War

  1. markross Post author

    ”In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” – President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1961, Farewell Speech)

  2. conservativecathy

    War that is for land, conquering, glory, benefit of some industry/business is always wrong!  But War is Hell and if done for only the correct reason then the aftermath will be better then ignoring the problem.  And only in that case is war acceptable.  So again we are at in impasse as I will always see EVIL as an appropriate reason if we are able but nothing else.  And as I said previously if our military might is such that no one dares attack us then there will be peace for all.  I think that was the beginning reason for the UN but since they have never gone there and every where else they should be abolished or at least removed from our country.

    Our countries wars have always (except Libya) been for the correct reason – just not always handled well or the aftermath handled well. But to believe that you can ignore the world and live only in your own little area and never have to deal with them and ignore evil elsewhere is evil also. If we had gone in and stopped Hitler at the start we might possibly have avoided a World War. But you can not ignore that we currently have treaties that require us to defend other countries and you must abide by those. Unfortunately that is the position we are in currently. Now if you want to elect people that will review these items and change them your can work from a different point. But to limit yourself only to fighting when someone attacks you is wrong also. You need to take it to a more personal level to understand. If you see someone being hurt and you can help them then you must and it is the same for countries. But you keep forgetting the part about “If you can”. You are not required cause undue hardship to accomplish the goal. But that is where the debate should be not whether we can ever help someone else as principal and morals state that you must.

  3. markross Post author

    Hi Cathy.
    Thank you for the comment!

    The above words were written by Joseph Story, in his Commentaries on The Constitution. He was appointed by President “James Madison.” 

    No one is suggesting that there isn’t a proper time for war. But, Joseph Story is exactly right that, war is always burdersome, even in it’s most appropriate of times. Also, Constitutionally, Congress has no authority to go to war, unless it is to provide for our “Common Defense,” and “declared by Congress.” Both of which were the case, when entering WW2. Pearl Harbor was attacked, and Germany and Japan declared war on us. In return, our Congress declared war on them.

    At least, on the subject of war, FDR understood his Constitutional limits; which very few, if any, Presidents, today, seem to understand, or care about.


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