Who Dragged Us Into War Anyway?

With all the talk of the Republican Party being the "War-ing" Party or the administrations that send off our boys to fight for no reason, I decided to do some research and see if that was true. Indeed it was not. Except recent Mid east skirmishes that took place during either Bush administration and the Spanish-American in 1898 which was support for Cuba's Independence, the majority of wars, a Democratic administration brought on US involvement. They sent off our young boys to die and deliver unbelievable civilian casualties. Here's the list:

Table 1

War of 1812 1812-1814 James Madison - Democrat
Mexican War 1846-1848 James Polk - Democrat
Civil 1861-1865 Abraham Lincoln - Republican * see note below
Spanish American 1898 William McKinley - Republican
The Great War - WW1 1914-1918 Woodrow Wilson - Democrat
WW2 1939-1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt/ Harry Truman - Democrats

*James Buchanan was a Democrat President from 1857-1861. The South had already succeeded from the Union, and elected their President Jefferson Davis before Lincoln became President. This mess was left for President Lincoln. He was inaugurated on March 4th, and Fort Sumter was attacked on April 12th.


You may notice the break in the 2 tables here. The reason being that Congress was petitioned [in all wars in table 1] by the President for a Declaration of War according to the Constitution of the United States. All of the next wars, skirmishes, conflicts, whatever you want to call them, were started without Congressional approval. The current President just sent forces into battle.

Table 2

Korean Conflict 1950-1953 Harry Truman - Democrat
Vietnam Conflict 1961-1975 John F. Kennedy/Lyndon B. Johnson - Democrats
Cambodia Bombings/Vietnam 1969-1975 Richard Nixon - Republican

Just a note that President Johnson is blamed for the "quagmire" that happened in Vietnam. President Nixon started the bombings into Cambodia trying to catch Vietcong Rebel troops. So bad was the public attitude that Nixon had to pull the troops out of Vietnam in 1975. Actually Congress cut funding for the war and demanded the troops be removed.

This is where it gets a bit interesting but unclear to most Americans. Congress passed the War Powers Act of 1973 even over the President's veto. I have copied the actual text of the Government document here. But I got it from here. This document limits the President's power for just sending troops anywhere he would see fit. He first must notify Congress in writing beforehand. Then must keep the troops out only for a limited time and must keep Congress up to date by giving verbal or written updates at certain time intervals. A lawyer's explanation here. This War Powers Act of 1973 is the basis of the Table 3 wars which also had no Congressional approval. Congress has legally tried to stop some of these but to no avail.

Examples of abuse of the War Powers Act of 1973, and Congressional intervention here. A "must read" of information.

Table 3

Iran hostage situation 1980 Jimmy Carter - Democrat
El Salvador 1981-1992 Jimmy Carter - Democrat
Nicaragua 1981-1990 Jimmy Carter - Democrat
Lebanon, Honduras, Grenada, Iran 1980-1984 Ronald Reagan - Republican
Panama, Iraq, Kuwait, 1989-1991 George Bush (Sr.) - Republican
Somalia, Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Haiti, Croatia, Zaire, Liberia, Albania, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia (again) 1992-1999 Bill Clinton - Democrat
Yeman, Macedonia, Afghanistan, Iraq 2000- present George Bush (Jr.) - Republican

An interesting read is the United States Military Operations page. It lists the military operations by name e.g. "Desert Storm". Just click on the "era" on the left column. Another great site is A Century of U.S. Military Interventions where I got some of the info for this page. It lists alot more.