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The War Powers Debate45:57
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President Bush addresses the nation from the Oval Office at the White House, Wednesday, March 19, 2003. (AP Photo/via APTN)
President Bush addresses the nation from the Oval Office at the White House, Wednesday, March 19, 2003. (AP Photo/via APTN)

When it comes to war, the United States Constitution is both clear and — in practice — muddy.

Congress is granted the right to declare war, and raise armed forces, and fund war. The President is named Commander in Chief to lead those armed forces in defense of the nation.

In 1973, after the fury over the Vietnam War, Congress passed a War Powers Resolution designed to rein in the White House on war.

Now, in 2008, after the fury over Iraq, a top-tier bipartisan commission says a new way is urgently needed.

This hour, On Point: Debating how the United States goes to war.Guests:

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian and advisor to the bipartisan National War Powers Commission, chaired by former secretaries of state James Baker and Warren Christopher, which released its report on Tuesday.

Slade Gorton, former Republican U.S. senator from Washington State and a member of the bipartisan National War Powers Commission.

Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School and author of the forthcoming book "Washington Warfare: The Politics of National Security Since World War II."

Robert F. Turner, professor of law at the University of Virginia and founder of its Center for National Security Law. A leading scholar of war powers issues, he served in the State and Defense Departments under President Ronald Reagan.

Links:

"Put War Powers Back Where They Belong," by James A. Baker III and Warren Christopher (The New York Times, July 8, 2008)

The National War Powers Commission, the bipartisan panel chaired by James Baker and Warren Christopher. Download the commission's final report (pdf).

This program aired on July 9, 2008.

Tom Ashbrook Twitter Former Host, On Point
Tom Ashbrook is an award-winning journalist and host of WBUR and NPR's On Point.

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