Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Declaration of war by the United States

Declaration of war by the United States

Overview

A declaration of war is a formal declaration issued by a national government indicating that a state of war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 exists between that nation and another. For the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution says "Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 shall have power to ... declare War". However, that passage provides no specific format for what form legislation must have in order to be considered a "Declaration of War
Declaration of war
A declaration of war is a formal act by which one nation goes to war against another. The declaration is a performative speech act by an authorized party of a national government in order to create a state of war between two or more states.The legality of who is competent to declare war varies...

" nor does the Constitution itself use this term.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Declaration of war by the United States'
Start a new discussion about 'Declaration of war by the United States'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia

A declaration of war is a formal declaration issued by a national government indicating that a state of war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 exists between that nation and another. For the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution says "Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 shall have power to ... declare War". However, that passage provides no specific format for what form legislation must have in order to be considered a "Declaration of War
Declaration of war
A declaration of war is a formal act by which one nation goes to war against another. The declaration is a performative speech act by an authorized party of a national government in order to create a state of war between two or more states.The legality of who is competent to declare war varies...

" nor does the Constitution itself use this term. Many have postulated "Declaration(s) of War" must contain that phrase as or within the title. Others oppose that reasoning. In the courts, the United States First Circuit Court of Appeals in Doe vs. Bush said: "[T]he text of the October Resolution
Iraq Resolution
The Iraq Resolution or the Iraq War Resolution is a joint resolution passed by the United States Congress in October 2002 as Public Law No: 107-243, authorizing military action against Iraq.-Contents:The resolution cited many factors to justify the use of military force against...

 itself spells out justifications for a war and frames itself as an 'authorization' of such a war." in effect saying a formal Congressional "Declaration of War" was not required by the Constitution.

This article will use the term "formal Declaration of War" to mean Congressional legislation that uses the phrase "Declaration of War" in the title. Elsewhere, this article will use the terms "authorized by Congress", "funded by Congress" or "undeclared war" to describe other such conflicts.

The United States has formally declared war against foreign nations five separate times, each upon prior request by the President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

. Four of those five declarations came after hostilities had begun. James Madison reported that in the Federal Convention of 1787, the phrase "make war" was changed to "declare war" in order to leave to the Executive the power to repel sudden attacks but not to commence war without the explicit approval of Congress. Debate continues as to the legal extent of the President's authority in this regard.

After Congress repealed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
The Tonkin Gulf Resolution was a joint resolution which the United States Congress passed on August 10, 1964 in response to a sea battle between the North Vietnamese Navy's Torpedo Squadron 10135 and the destroyer on August 2 and an alleged second naval engagement between North Vietnamese boats...

 in January 1971 and President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 continued to wage war in Vietnam, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution
War Powers Resolution
The War Powers Resolution of 1973 is a federal law intended to check the power of the President in committing the United States to an armed conflict without the consent of Congress. The resolution was adopted in the form of a United States Congress joint resolution; this provides that the...

  over the veto of Nixon in an attempt to rein in some of the president's claimed powers. Today, Congress recognizes no claimed power of the president to wage war outside of the War Powers Resolution.

Formal


The table below lists the five wars in which the United States has formally declared war against foreign nations. The only country against which the United States has declared war more than once is Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, against which the United States has declared war twice (though a case could be made for Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 as a successor state to Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

).

In World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

 on December 7, 1941. Germany and Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, led respectively by Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 and Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

, declared war on the United States, and the U.S. Congress responded in kind.
War Declaration Opponent(s) Date of declaration Votes President Conclusion
Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

House
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

Declaration of War upon the UK
United States declaration of war upon the United Kingdom (1812)
An Act Declaring War between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Dependencies Thereof and the United States of America and Their Territories was passed by the United States Congress on 18 June 1812, thereby beginning the War of 1812....

 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland June 18, 1812 19-13 79-49 Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

Treaty of Ghent
Treaty of Ghent
The Treaty of Ghent , signed on 24 December 1814, in Ghent , was the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812 between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 (December 24, 1814)
Mexican-American War "An Act providing for the Prosecution of the existing War between the United States
and the Republic of Mexico."
 Mexico May 13, 1846 40-2 173-14 Polk Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is the peace treaty, largely dictated by the United States to the interim government of a militarily occupied Mexico City, that ended the Mexican-American War on February 2, 1848...

 (February 2, 1848)
Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

Declaration of War upon Spain
United States declaration of war upon Spain
On 25 April 1898 the United States Congress declared war upon Spain, in response to that country's declaration of war the prior day. The Spanish–American War ensued, resulting in a decisive victory for the United States, and ending with the Treaty of Paris on December 10 of the same year.- Text of...

 Spain April 25, 1898 42-35 310-6 McKinley
William McKinley
William McKinley, Jr. was the 25th President of the United States . He is best known for winning fiercely fought elections, while supporting the gold standard and high tariffs; he succeeded in forging a Republican coalition that for the most part dominated national politics until the 1930s...

Treaty of Paris
Treaty of Paris (1898)
The Treaty of Paris of 1898 was signed on December 10, 1898, at the end of the Spanish-American War, and came into effect on April 11, 1899, when the ratifications were exchanged....

 (December 10, 1898)
World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

Declaration of War upon Germany (1917)
United States declaration of war upon Germany (1917)
On April 6, 1917 the United States Congress declared war upon the German Empire; on April 2, President Woodrow Wilson had asked a special joint session of Congress for this declaration.- Text of the declaration :...

 German Empire April 6, 1917 82-6 373-50 Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

Treaty of Berlin (August 25, 1921)
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL31133.pdf December 7, 1917 74-0 365-1 Treaty of Trianon
Treaty of Trianon
The Treaty of Trianon was the peace agreement signed in 1920, at the end of World War I, between the Allies of World War I and Hungary . The treaty greatly redefined and reduced Hungary's borders. From its borders before World War I, it lost 72% of its territory, which was reduced from to...

 (in part)
World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

Declaration of War upon Japan
Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

December 8, 1941 82-0 388-1 Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

,
Truman
V-J Day, Japanese Instrument of Surrender
Japanese Instrument of Surrender
The Japanese Instrument of Surrender was the written agreement that enabled the Surrender of Japan, marking the end of World War II. It was signed by representatives from the Empire of Japan, the United States of America, the Republic of China, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist...

 (September 2, 1945), Treaty of San Francisco
Treaty of San Francisco
The Treaty of Peace with Japan , between Japan and part of the Allied Powers, was officially signed by 48 nations on September 8, 1951, at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, California...

  (September 8, 1951)
Declaration of War upon Germany (1941)
United States declaration of war upon Germany (1941)
On December 11, 1941, the United States Congress declared war upon Germany, in response to that nation's declaration of war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.Seventy-Seventh Congress of the United States of America; in the First Session...

 Nazi Germany December 11, 1941 88-0 393-0 V-E Day, Unconditional German Surrender, (May 8, 1945), Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany
Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany
The Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany, was negotiated in 1990 between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic , and the Four Powers which occupied Germany at the end of World War II in Europe: France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the...

  (September 12, 1990), Treaty of Vienna with Austria (May 15, 1955)
Declaration of War upon Italy  Kingdom of Italy (Napoleonic) 90-0 399-0 Paris Peace Treaty
Paris Peace Treaties, 1947
The Paris Peace Conference resulted in the Paris Peace Treaties signed on February 10, 1947. The victorious wartime Allied powers negotiated the details of treaties with Italy, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Finland .The...

  (February 10, 1947)
Declaration of War upon Bulgaria  Kingdom of Bulgaria June 5, 1942 73-0 357-0
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL31133.pdf 360-0
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL31133.pdf  Kingdom of Romania 361-0

Military engagements authorized by Congress


In other instances, the United States has engaged in extended military combat that were authorized by Congress.
War or conflict Opponent(s) Initial authorization Votes President Conclusion
Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

House
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

Quasi-War
Quasi-War
The Quasi-War was an undeclared war fought mostly at sea between the United States and French Republic from 1798 to 1800. In the United States, the conflict was sometimes also referred to as the Franco-American War, the Pirate Wars, or the Half-War.-Background:The Kingdom of France had been a...

 Early Modern France Act Further to Protect the Commerce of the United States
Act Further to Protect the Commerce of the United States
An Act further to protect the commerce of the United States, is an act of Congress approved July 9, 1798, authorizing the President of the United States to use military force in the Quasi-War with France.-Legislative history:...


July 9, 1798
John Adams Convention of 1800 (Treaty of Mortefontaine)
Convention of 1800 (Treaty of Mortefontaine)
The Convention of 1800, , also known as the Treaty of Mortefontaine, was a treaty between the United States of America and France to settle the hostilities that had erupted during the Quasi-War...

First Barbary War
First Barbary War
The First Barbary War , also known as the Barbary Coast War or the Tripolitan War, was the first of two wars fought between the United States and the North African Berber Muslim states known collectively as the Barbary States...

Tripoli February 6, 1802 Thomas Jefferson 1805
Second Barbary War
Second Barbary War
The Second Barbary War , also known as the Algerine or Algerian War, was the second of two wars fought between the United States and the Ottoman Empire's North African regencies of Tripoli, Tunis, and Algeria known collectively as the Barbary states. The war between the Barbary States and the U.S...

Algiers May 10, 1815 James Madison 1816
enforcing 1808 slave trade ban; naval squadron sent to African waters to apprehend illegal slave traders slave traders (pirates) "Act in addition to the acts prohibiting the Slave Trade" 1819 James Monroe 1822 first African-American settlement founded in Liberia, 1823 US Navy stops anti-trafficking patrols
Redress for attack on U.S. Navy vessel  Paraguay 1859 James Buchanan
Intervention during the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

1918 Woodrow Wilson
Lebanon crisis of 1958
Lebanon crisis of 1958
The 1958 Lebanon crisis was a Lebanese political crisis caused by political and religious tensions in the country. It included a U.S. military intervention.-Background:...

1958 Dwight D. Eisenhower
Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

Viet Cong
 North Vietnam
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
The Tonkin Gulf Resolution was a joint resolution which the United States Congress passed on August 10, 1964 in response to a sea battle between the North Vietnamese Navy's Torpedo Squadron 10135 and the destroyer on August 2 and an alleged second naval engagement between North Vietnamese boats...

, August 7, 1964
88-2 416-0 John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
American Force withdrew in January 1973.
Multinational Force in Lebanon
Multinational Force in Lebanon
The Multinational Force in Lebanon was an international peacekeeping force created in 1982 and sent to Lebanon to oversee the withdrawal of the Palestine Liberation Organization...

Shia and Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 miltias; Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

S.J.R. 159
September 29, 1983
54-46 253-156 Ronald Reagan Force withdrew in 1984
Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

, also known as Operation Desert Storm
 Iraq H.R.J. Res. 77
Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 1991
The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution or Joint Resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 , was the United States Congress's January 14, 1991 authorization of the use of U.S. military force...


January 12, 1991.
52-47 250-183 George H. W. Bush The United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 drew up terms for the cease-fire, April 3, 1991
2001 war in Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

, also known as Operation Enduring Freedom
 Afghanistan
al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

S.J. Res. 23
Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists
The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists , one of two resolutions commonly known as "AUMF" , was a joint resolution passed by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001, authorizing the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on...


September 14, 2001
98-0 420-1 George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Ongoing
Iraq War, also known as Operation Iraqi Freedom, currently known as "Operation New Dawn."  Iraq H.J. Res. 114,
March 3, 2003
77-23 296-133 Combat operations ended August 31, 2010.

Military engagements authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolutions and funded by Congress


In many instances, the United States has engaged in extended military engagements that were authorized by United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 Resolutions and funded by appropriations from Congress.
Military Engagement Opponent(s) Initial Authorization President Conclusion
Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 North Korea
 People's Republic of China
UNSCR 84
United Nations Security Council Resolution 84
The United Nations Security Council Resolution 84 was adopted on July 7, 1950. Having determined that the attack on the Republic of Korea by the forces from North Korea constituted a breach of the peace, the Council recommended that the members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the...

, 1950
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

Armistice
Armistice
An armistice is a situation in a war where the warring parties agree to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, but may be just a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace...

 1953
Multinational Force in Lebanon
Multinational Force in Lebanon
The Multinational Force in Lebanon was an international peacekeeping force created in 1982 and sent to Lebanon to oversee the withdrawal of the Palestine Liberation Organization...

Shia militia,
Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 miltia,
Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

UNSCR 425
United Nations Security Council Resolution 425
United Nations Security Council Resolution 425, adopted on March 19, 1978, five days after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, called on Israel to withdraw immediately its forces from Lebanon and established the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon...

, 1978
UNSCR 426
United Nations Security Council Resolution 426
United Nations Security Council Resolution 426, adopted on March 19, 1978, written the same day as resolution 425, approved of the Secretary-General's report on its implementation and in-turn established the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon for 6 months, to continue operation thereafter if...

, 1978
Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...


Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

US forces withdrew in 1984
Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

,
also known as Operation Desert Storm
 Iraq UNSCR 678
United Nations Security Council Resolution 678
United Nations Security Council Resolution 678, adopted on November 29, 1990, after reaffirming resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674 and 677 , the Council noted that despite all the United Nations efforts, Iraq continued to defy the Security Council.-Details:The Council,...

, 1990
George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

UNSCR 689
United Nations Security Council Resolution 689
United Nations Security Council Resolution 689, adopted unanimously on April 9, 1991, after recalling Resolution 687 , the Council noted a report by the Secretary-General and decided to establish the United Nations Iraq–Kuwait Observation Mission to monitor the demilitarized zone between Iraq and...

, 1991
Bosnian War
Bosnian War
The Bosnian War or the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between April 1992 and December 1995. The war involved several sides...


also known as UNPROFOR
Republika Srpska
Republika Srpska
Republika Srpska is one of two main political entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the other being the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina...

UNSCR 770
United Nations Security Council Resolution 770
United Nations Security Council Resolution 770, adopted on August 13, 1992, after reaffirming previous resolutions on the topic, including Resolution 743 , Resolution 749 , Resolution 761 and Resolution 764 , the Council recognised the humanitarian situation in Sarajevo and other areas in Bosnia...

, 1992
UNSCR 776
United Nations Security Council Resolution 776
United Nations Security Council Resolution 776, adopted on September 14, 1992, after reaffirming Resolution 743 and noting offers of assistance made by Member States since the adoption of Resolution 770 , the Council authorised an increase in the size and strength of the United Nations Protection...

, 1992
UNSCR 836
United Nations Security Council Resolution 836
United Nations Security Council Resolution 836, adopted on June 4, 1993, after reaffirming Resolution 713 and all subsequent resolutions on the situation in the former Yugoslavia, the Council expressed its alarm at the continuing situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and decided to expand the...

, 1993
Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

Reflagged as IFOR
IFOR
The Implementation Force was a NATO-led multinational peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina under a one-year mandate from 20 December 1995 to 20 December 1996 under the codename Operation Joint Endeavour. Its task was to implement the military Annexes of The General Framework Agreement for...

 in 1995,
Reflagged as SFOR
SFOR
The Stabilisation Force was a NATO-led multinational peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina which was tasked with upholding the Dayton Agreement. It replaced the previous force IFOR...

 in 1996,
Completed in 2004
Second Liberian Civil War
Second Liberian Civil War
The Second Liberian Civil War began in 1999 when a rebel group backed by the government of neighbouring Guinea, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy , emerged in northern Liberia. In early 2003, a second rebel group, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia, emerged in the south, and...

Peacekeeping
Peacekeeping
Peacekeeping is an activity that aims to create the conditions for lasting peace. It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking....

UNSCR 1497
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1497
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1497, adopted on August 1, 2003, after expressing concern at the situation in Liberia, the Council authorised a multinational force to intervene in the civil war to support the implementation of a ceasefire agreement using "all necessary measures".The...

, 2003
George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

US Forces withdraw in 2003 after UNMIL
United Nations Mission in Liberia
The United Nations Mission in Liberia is a peace-keeping force established in September 2003 to monitor a ceasefire agreement in Liberia following the resignation of President Charles Taylor and the conclusion of the Second Liberian Civil War....

 is established
2004 Haitian Rebellion,
also known as MINUSTAH
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
The United Nations Stabilisation Mission In Haiti , also known as MINUSTAH, an acronym of the French translation, is a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti that has been in operation since 2004. The mission's military component is led by the Brazilian Army and the force commander is...

UNSCR 1529
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1529
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1529, adopted unanimously on February 29, 2004, after expressing concern about the situation in Haiti, the Council authorised the deployment of an international force to the country to stabilise the situation following a coup d'état that resulted in the...

, 2004
UNSCR 1542
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1542
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1542, adopted unanimously on April 30, 2004, after receiving a report by the Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Council deplored all violations of human rights in Haiti and urged the Government of Haiti to promote and protect human rights with a State based...

, 2004
2004
2011 Military Intervention in Libya
2011 military intervention in Libya
On 19 March 2011, a multi-state coalition began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to events during the 2011 Libyan civil war...


also known as Operation Odyssey Dawn
Operation Odyssey Dawn
Operation Odyssey Dawn was the U.S. code name for the US part of the international military operation in Libya to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. during the initial period of 19–31 March 2011, which continued afterwards under NATO command as Operation Unified Protector...

 Libya UNSCR 1973
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, on the situation in Libya, is a measure that was adopted on 17 March 2011. The Security Council resolution was proposed by France, Lebanon, and the United Kingdom....

, 2011
Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

Ongoing

Other undeclared wars


On at least 125 occasions, the President has acted without prior express military authorization from Congress. These include instances in which the United States fought in Korea
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 in 1950, the Philippine-American War
Philippine-American War
The Philippine–American War, also known as the Philippine War of Independence or the Philippine Insurrection , was an armed conflict between a group of Filipino revolutionaries and the United States which arose from the struggle of the First Philippine Republic to gain independence following...

 from 1898–1903, in Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

 in 1927, as well as the NATO bombing campaign of Yugoslavia in 1999.

The United States' longest war was fought between approximately 1840 and 1886 against the Apache
Apache
Apache is the collective term for several culturally related groups of Native Americans in the United States originally from the Southwest United States. These indigenous peoples of North America speak a Southern Athabaskan language, which is related linguistically to the languages of Athabaskan...

 Nation. During that entire 46-year period, there was never more than 90 days of peace.

The Indian Wars
Indian Wars
American Indian Wars is the name used in the United States to describe a series of conflicts between American settlers or the federal government and the native peoples of North America before and after the American Revolutionary War. The wars resulted from the arrival of European colonizers who...

 comprise at least 28 conflicts and engagements. These localized conflicts, with Native Americans, began with European colonists coming to North America, long before the establishment of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. For the purpose of this discussion, the Indian Wars are defined as conflicts with the United States of America. They begin as one front in the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

 in 1775 and had concluded by 1918. The US Army still maintains a campaign streamer for Pine Ridge 1890-1891
Wounded Knee Massacre
The Wounded Knee Massacre happened on December 29, 1890, near Wounded Knee Creek on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, USA. On the day before, a detachment of the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment commanded by Major Samuel M...

 despite opposition from certain Native American groups.

The American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 was not an international conflict under the laws of war, because the Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 was not a government that had been granted full diplomatic recognition as a sovereign nation
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

. The CSA was recognized as a belligerent power
Belligerent
A belligerent is an individual, group, country or other entity which acts in a hostile manner, such as engaging in combat. Belligerent comes from Latin, literally meaning "to wage war"...

, a different status of recognition that authorized Confederate warships to visit non-U.S. port
Port
A port is a location on a coast or shore containing one or more harbors where ships can dock and transfer people or cargo to or from land....

s. This recognition of the CSA's status as a belligerent power did not impose any duty upon the United States to recognize the sovereignty of the Confederacy, and the United States never did so.

The War Powers Resolution


In 1973, following the withdrawal of most American troops from the Vietnam War, a debate emerged about the extent of presidential power in deploying troops without a declaration of war. A compromise in the debate was reached with the War Powers Resolution
War Powers Resolution
The War Powers Resolution of 1973 is a federal law intended to check the power of the President in committing the United States to an armed conflict without the consent of Congress. The resolution was adopted in the form of a United States Congress joint resolution; this provides that the...

. This act clearly defined how many soldiers could be deployed by the President of the United States and for how long. It also required formal reports by the President to Congress regarding the status of such deployments, and limited the total amount of time that American forces could be deployed without a formal declaration of war.

Although the constitutionality of the act has never been tested, it is usually followed, most notably during the Grenada Conflict
Invasion of Grenada
The Invasion of Grenada, codenamed Operation Urgent Fury, was a 1983 United States-led invasion of Grenada, a Caribbean island nation with a population of about 100,000 located north of Venezuela. Triggered by a military coup which had ousted a four-year revolutionary government, the invasion...

, the Panamanian Conflict, the Somalia Conflict, the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

, and the Iraq War. The only exception was President Clinton's use of U.S. troops in the 78-day NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

 during the Kosovo War. In all other cases, the President asserted the constitutional authority to commit troops without the necessity of Congressional approval, but in each case the President received Congressional authorization that satisfied the provisions of the War Powers Act.

On March 21, 2011, a number of lawmakers expressed concern that the decision of President Barack Obama to order the U.S. military to join in attacks of Libyan
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 air defenses and government forces exceeded his constitutional authority because the decision was made to authorize the attack without Congressional permission.

See also

  • Declaration of war
    Declaration of war
    A declaration of war is a formal act by which one nation goes to war against another. The declaration is a performative speech act by an authorized party of a national government in order to create a state of war between two or more states.The legality of who is competent to declare war varies...

  • Declaration of war by Canada
    Declaration of war by Canada
    A declaration of war by Canada is a formal declaration issued by the Government of Canada indicating that a state of war exists between Canada and another nation...

  • Declaration of war by the United Kingdom
    Declaration of war by the United Kingdom
    A declaration of war is a formal declaration issued by a national government indicating that a state of war exists between that nation and another. In the United Kingdom, only the Monarch has the power to declare War and peace, under the Royal Prerogative. There has been a debate regarding whether...

  • War on Terror
    War on Terror
    The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

  • Timeline of United States military operations
  • Police action
    Police action
    Police action in military/security studies and international relations is a euphemism for a military action undertaken without a formal declaration of war.Since World War II, formal declarations of war have been rare...


External links