The United States has been involved in several military conflicts since the end of World War II in 1945, including in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. But it’s been 80 years since the United States “officially” declared war on another nation. This important decision is up to Congress.
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That prospect became a remote possibility — albeit a drastic last resort — when Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed decrees ordering the dispatch of military forces to Ukraine’s two breakaway regions for the purpose of “maintaining peace.” peace” and recognized their independence, reported the New York Times.
This was followed by President Joe Biden announcing sanctions against Russia for what he called “the start of a Russian invasion of Ukraine”, according to the Times.
A declaration of war would be a major step, not to be taken lightly. Congress has only officially declared war 11 times, spread across five conflicts.
On December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor the day before. This was followed by similar statements adopted by Congress three days later against Germany and Italy. In June 1942, Congress passed declarations of war against Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania.
The US Constitution divides the power to declare war and the power to direct it, according to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution designates the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
But what about US military actions since World War II? In 1950, President Harry S. Truman responded to the UN Security Council’s request for assistance and committed ground forces after North Korea attacked South Korea. After the presidents committed the U.S. military to combat operations in the Dominican Republic, Laos, and Vietnam without formally declaring war, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution in November 1973.
But according to the House of Representatives website, the war powers resolution “had little, if any, effect on the military decisions of sitting presidents.” According to the National Constitution Center, there have been more than 130 instances where the president has acted under the war powers resolution provisions.
Here’s a look at when the United States officially declared war.
War of 1812
The War of 1812 has also been referred to as the Second War of American Independence. President James Madison, angered by Britain’s refusal to respect American neutrality in the war between Britain and France, asked Congress on June 1, 1812, to declare war, according to the National Parks Service website. .
The House passed the resolution by a margin of 79 to 49, and the Senate approved it by a vote of 19 to 13. Madison signed the declaration of war on June 18, 1812. All affirmative votes in both houses were voiced by members of the Democratic-Republican Party (which later became the Democratic Party). It was the closest vote in officially declared wars, and the conflict would come to be known as “Mr. Madison’s War.
“(War) is hereby declared between Great Britain and its dependencies and the United States of America and its territories,” the resolution read, according to History.com. “(And) the President of the United States is hereby authorized to use the entire land and naval force of the United States to effect the same.”
The Mexican-American War, which was fought from 1846 to 1848, was sparked by a land dispute between Mexico and Texas. In 1836, Texas gained independence from Mexico and the new republic was annexed by the United States as the 28th state in 1845.
Mexico, however, never relinquished its claims to its former territory, causing tension with the United States. Mexico attacked American forces under General Zachary Taylor along the Rio Grande on April 25, 1846.
President James K. Polk sent a wartime message to Congress on May 11, 1846, claiming that Mexico had “invaded our territory and shed American blood on American soil.”
The House approved the measure by a vote of 174 to 14, and the Senate voted 40 to 2 the next day in favor of war.
Spanish American War
The Spanish–American War of 1898 marked the end of the Spanish colonial empire in the Western Hemisphere and secured the United States’ position as a power in the Pacific.
The war was sparked by three years of fighting by Cuban revolutionaries to gain independence from Spain, according to US State Department records. Tensions between the United States and Spain reached a breaking point after the battleship Maine exploded and sank in Havana harbor under mysterious circumstances on February 15, 1898, according to the Naval History and Heritage website. Order.
President William McKinley sent a message to Congress asking for a declaration of war, which passed unanimously by voice vote in the House and Senate on April 25, 1898.
First World War
Woodrow Wilson was re-elected in 1916 with the slogan “He kept us out of war”. War in Europe had been raging since the late summer of 1914 and Wilson convinced Germany to halt attacks on Allied civilian shipping following the sinking of the Lusitania, a British liner, by U-boats on May 7 1915. More than 1,100 people died, including more than 120 Americans, according to History.com.
But in 1917, the Germans decided to resume their attacks against civilian ships in the North Atlantic Ocean.
On April 2, 1917, Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany because of the U-boat attacks and the discovery of the “Zimmermann Telegram”. This message, sent in January 1917 by German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann to the German Minister to Mexico, promised that Germany would help Mexico recover its lands from the United States in exchange for support in the war.
The Senate approved Wilson’s request by an 82-6 margin on April 4. Two days later, the House passed the decree by a vote of 373 to 50.
On December 10, 1917, Congress passed a separate declaration of war against Austria-Hungary, citing the empire’s collaboration in German U-boat attacks. The Senate approved the measure by a vote of 74 to 0, while the House passed it by a margin of 365 to 1. The only dissenting vote was cast by Meyer London, a Socialist representative from New York.
The Second World War
The United States originally declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941. Germany and Italy declared war on the United States on the same day, and Congress passed declarations of war against Germany and Italy. Italy on December 11, 1941.
The attack on Pearl Harbor resulted in an almost unanimous vote for war against Japan after Roosevelt addressed Congress. The Senate voted 82-0, while the House vote was 388-1. The only vote cast against the war was that of Jeannette Rankin, a representative from Montana who was the first woman to sit in Congress and who also voted against declaring war on Germany in 1917.
“As a woman, I can’t go to war,” Rankin said. “And I refuse to send anyone else.”
The declarations of war against Germany and Italy passed in the Senate by votes of 88-0 and 90-0, respectively. The vote was also unanimous in the House, by margins of 393-0 (Germany) and 399-0. Although Rankin did not vote for the measure, she voted “present either way.”
Declarations of war were adopted unanimously against Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania in June 1942. They were adopted by margins of 357-0 (Bulgaria), 360-0 (Hungary) and 361-0 ( Romania) on June 3. The measure was passed by the Senate. by a margin of 73-0 in each case the following day.
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