Discourses of war: The landscape of congressional rhetoric

Glenn A Phelps, Timothy S. Boylan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


In writing the U.S. Constitution the framers anticipated that the use of American military force should require an extraordinary consensus between Congress and the President. The era of the Vietnam War led many to believe that Congress had become the junior partner to presidents who exercised an increasing degree of constitutional independence in use of force issues. The War Powers Resolution (WPR) of 1973 attempted to address that constitutional imbalance. Our analysis of the constitutional debates surrounding the adoption of the WPR reveals that members of Congress were unable to agree upon a coherent "institutional" vision for Congress; even those who supported the measure were unsure of its meaning. When Congress took up measures related to the commitment of American forces in Kosovo, the same constitutional divisions that existed 25 years previously reemerged and Congress was unable to perform as a full constitutional partner-not because of presidential bullying, but because it lacked its own institutional view of its constitutional responsibilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalArmed Forces and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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