Weinburger Doctrine


 

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Clearly war-making powers are vested in the Congress but foreign adventurism has always been a powerful temptation for despotic leaders, particularly in times of domestic crisis.

Presidents of these United States have oft-times taken advantage of their position as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to send American troops into combat without Congressional approval. In many cases such actions were necessary and justified in the circumstances. The open question is in what event is the President justified in such actions.

I recently came across the Weinburger Doctrine, formulated by former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinburger. They provide a common-sense, six-part test of when American troops should be put in harm's way:

1. If our or our allies' vital interests are at stake.

2. With the resources necessary to win.

3. With clear political and military objectives.

4. With a readiness to change the commitment if objectives change.

5. With the support of the American people and Congress.

6. As a last resort.

An example of the successful application of these rules was in our first war with Iraq, known as Desert Storm. These lessons were forgotten in Somalia, however, more recently in Bosnia, and in the second war against Iraq.

Would that these principles had been applied before becoming involved in Vietnam and more than 58,000 of the best of our young men and women killed in that futile and immoral war. President Clinton seems to be digging the United States into the same sort of hole in the Balkans in mid-1999 while ignoring all of these principles.

What power must be imposed to force all Presidents use these simple tests before committing our Armed Forces to hostile situations? Clearly, any situation that cannot meet all six of these conditions does not justify armed intervention, and then only if specifically so directed by the Congress.

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Last modified 3/17/16