Allan Ides

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The subtitle of To Chain the Dog of War-"The War Power of Congress in History and Law"-accurately foretells both the virtues and vices of this study. The authors present a thoroughly-researched refutation of the theory that the President possesses an independent war-making authority under the United States Constitution. Their refutation is both historical and legal: historical in its reliance on the Framers' intent in establishing a formal structure of congressional predominance, and legal in its strict allegiance to these formal structural rules. Unfortunately, the authors do not succeed in moving beyond this premise of a formal and, at least with respect to the eighteenth century, defensible structure of congressional ascendancy to assess its modem legitimacy. They demonstrate the manner in which modem Presidents and Congresses, including President Reagan and the Congresses of the 1980's, have ignored or violated the formal structure. They do not, however, develop or fully consider the institutional pressures that seem to undermine this structure regardless of who makes up Congress or who occupies the White House. Nor do they adequately make the case for the legitimacy of the formal structure in the context of realities confronting contemporary America.

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