Ted Galen Carpenter comments on the inversion of the proper constitutional relationship between Congress and the executive in the conduct of foreign policy:

Unfortunately, conservatives have been most adamant about such deference when it involved chief executives who launched or sought to maintain presidential wars. The view that Congress should tamely acquiesce in such conflicts is a perversion of the Constitution. Both the language of the document and the history of the revolutionary and early national periods in U.S. history make it clear that the founders intended Congress, not the president, to determine whether the republic should go to war.

Conversely, the founders did intend the president, rather than Congress, to manage the day-to-day foreign policy of the United States. We now, quite literally, have the opposite of what they and the Constitution envisioned. Congress has totally abdicated its responsibilities regarding the war power, while it increasingly tries to micromanage key features of the nation’s diplomacy.

It’s telling that all of the measures that Carpenter cites in his account of Congressional micromanagement concern efforts to provoke another major power with useless military sales, increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and to rule out containment and deterrence as acceptable future responses to an Iranian nuclear arsenal. Unfortunately, all of these measures show that there is even less foreign policy restraint among most members of the current House than there is in the executive, which suggests that restoring the proper constitutional limits on the executive’s ability to wage war might not do much at all to prevent future unnecessary wars. Almost all of the political incentives in contemporary America still point in the direction of supporting more aggressive and confrontational policies abroad.