American Government Simplified for all Grades. National security is one of the most prioritized concerns in America. America was founded on the seeds of isolationism, and freedom of religion. However, in the 21st-century things have changed.
Radical Islam has given birth to modern Jihadists willing to die for their cause without hesitation. Their cause mostly being the deaths of many Americans and “westerners”. America has to be tolerant of religions, as it is inserted into its DNA. Therefore, the issue of national security deriving from terrorist threats may be somewhat complex. The government has to be tolerant of Muslims.
However, too many radical Muslims pose a threat to America’s homeland security. Hence, steps should be taken to ensure the security of American, both domestically, and its interests abroad.
One of the most straightforward solutions to Islamic terrorism in America would be to halt the entrance of any sort of immigrant, or visitor from the Middle East. For instance, President-elect, “Trump … invoked comparisons to the Cold War era in arguing that the United States must wage an unrelenting ideological fight if it is to defeat the Islamic State. President Trump had a common-sense approach to refugees entering America. If you want to kill Americans and Christians, why allow you into the United States?
Refugees to enter America
He said he would temporarily suspend immigration from ‘the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world (Sanger & Habernam, 2016).” This can potentially damage America’s relationship with its allies in the Middle East, specifically Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Many may argue that allowing Syrian refugees to enter America, represents a threat to national security.
Of the millions displaced from the Civil War in Syria, America has allowed only several thousand, mostly women and children. Whereas, Canada, for instance, has allowed significantly more refugees (Kelemen, 2015).
Nevertheless, to promote a safer America, the federal government may implement strict measures to prevent the entrance of potential terrorists. Additionally, the federal government may rely on NASA and CIA, and other international entities. To share intelligence and prevent terrorist activities from materializing.
To prevent terrorists from derailing America’s strong values of acceptance, tolerance, and freedom may take drastic actions such as the Patriot Act. Thus the American people can continue with daily life without fear, or threats are on the horizon.
System of checks and balances
Our government’s system of checks and balances is guaranteed by the Constitution’s separation of powers among the three branches. This system has protected the people from tyranny, and the states from federal overreaching. Its purpose is to make certain that either no one or political party gains too much power.
This system guarantees every civilian that their rights are secure, and that representation is required for those citizens by the government. The Constitution of the United States is our foundation of rules and regulations.
These three divisions of government are the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches. The Executive branch is made up of the President and his administration. This branch is designated to implement new laws and operate the government.
The Legislative branch, consisting of Congress, is taxed with setting the laws into writing. The Judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court and all of the lower courts. This branch of government explains those laws.
Each branch has it is equal and a fair amount of control over the other. The process starts with Congress composing a bill, the President either signs that bill turning it into law or will veto it. If vetoed, Congress can then take another vote on that bill. If more than two-thirds of its members support it, the veto is overturned and the bill becomes law (Americapedia, 2010).
Congress has some power to challenge the President. Aside from ensuring the President’s morality and trustworthiness are being upheld, it has to approve of the President’s expenses, declare war, and accept treaties signed by the President with foreign countries.
The Supreme Court, made up of Judges nominated by the President but approved over proceedings by Congress, can tell Congress whether or not a law passed is unconstitutional (Monk). These judges can also decide whether or not a President’s actions are unconstitutional. Congress and the Supreme Court ensure the President’s behavior is not tyrannical.
This division of powers makes sure that no single person, entity, or political party will acquire power over the other and crudely exercise those powers. Having, “checks and balances” in place guarantees that there is equal voicing of citizen concerns.
Citizens have a lot of influence over the government through elections, by voting in the President and members of Congress. These checks and balances do contribute differently as well.
Since each branch has its effect on the way a bill becomes a law, the process is slowed down. Not until each branch has played its part in reviewing the bill does law come into effect. This slower pace gives the people assurance that the legislative process is effectively and considerably passing laws to better the nation.
The Separation of Powers formulated by the authors of the Constitution was devised to accomplish one primary purpose, and that purpose is to make it impossible for this country to be ruled by tyrants. “It’s really quite simple: just as one does well not to put all his eggs in one basket, a nation does well not to put all its governmental power in one person or one body (Understanding Checks and Balances).”
The central function of the US Government
A central function of the US Government is to conduct relations with other nations throughout the world. These relations are contributed to foreign policies set forth by the government. Foreign policy requires the contribution of the President, Congress, and the public. It is the most intricate and demanding function of every government in the world.
“What the Constitution does, and all that it does is to confer on the President certain powers capable of affecting our foreign relations, and certain other powers of the same general kind on the Senate, and still other such powers on Congress; but which of these organs shall have the decisive and final voice in determining the course of the American nation is left for events to resolve (Corwin, 1957).”
The US Constitution divides the foreign policy powers between Congress and the President. This is set up so together they share in the making of foreign policy. Though the roles are different, the Executive and Legislative branches’ policymaking functions sometimes overlap.
The President relies on guidance from the National Security Council when forming US foreign policy. This assembly is made up of the Vice-President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The President has many different ways that he can make foreign policy (Constitutional Rights Foundation).
He can implement policy through statements and proposals for legislation, or negotiations of international agreements. The President has the choice of independent action as well (Grimmett, 1999).
The President still has to run his policies and programs past Congress. Out of all the forums the President has to deliver these, the State of the Union address is the most commonly used (O’Conner & Tarr, 2003). The President has a clear advantage in foreign relations.
He can host foreign diplomats, control the military, and use executive agreements to substitute treaties that require consent from the Senate (Foreign Policy Association, 2014).
Congress itself plays a vital role in the making of foreign policy. Congress has many options once the President announces a new policy. They can either support it, attempt to change it, or find a way to contribute to the further progress of said policy.
Congress’s power over the Executive branch is shown when the President’s policy requires legislation or funding. All funds need to be approved by the legislative branch, giving Congress the power to support or amend US foreign policy (Grimmett, 1999). Increased Congressional activity and inactivity don’t always mean Congress opposes the President’s policy.
Congress can be very supportive in the backing of a President’s policy, such as when they backed President Bush’s “rally around the flag” proposal in regards to the attacks on 9/11 (Constitutional Rights Foundation). The President’s foreign policy based on this event gained popular support of the people, which Congress seemed to like.
Foreign policy is a complex process. Both the Executive and Legislative branches have vital roles in the construction and implementation of new US foreign policy. Though both branches have their responsibilities, it is clear the abilities of each branch overlap. Together, they can both create foreign policy.
From the President’s action on foreign policy to Congress’s ability to affect the course of the policy, the cooperation between branches has led to a strong and very effective US foreign policy.
Though Congress can only declare war, the President can deploy troops and control their emplacement at will. President Obama was quoted saying “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation (Paul, 2011).”
The U.S. has used force abroad more than 100 times but declared war in only five cases: the War of 1812, the Mexican-American and Spanish-American Wars, and World Wars I and II (Yoo, 2013). With the current war in Iraq almost complete and Afghanistan winding down, Congress could end it all tomorrow.
They all hoped they wouldn’t Congress can cut funding immediately to the troops, or set a deadline to when funding will end. Cutting funding to troops immediately would kill not just morale, but faith from the military in its government. Not having proper gear places troops in greater harm’s way.
With the word “should” being used in the discussion question asking how military forces should be employed, I feel that having 900 bases worldwide weakens our fighting force at home.
The 1973 War Powers Resolution was passed even over a veto by President Nixon. It requires a President to terminate combat in a foreign territory within sixty to ninety days unless there is congressional authorization to continue (McMahon, 2013).
Though it allows the President latitude in responding to attacks or emergencies, its purpose was intended to provide more coordination between the executive and legislative branches on the use of force (New York Times, 2011).
The law requires the president to notify Congress in a timely fashion when American troops are being sent abroad with a strong probability that they will engage in combat.
I think the restrictions are unrealistic. History has shown us that the President has gone before Congress for authorization before the use of force when they felt they had the votes and has often just gone ahead without authorization when they thought they didn’t. I think the legislation leaves Congress feeling that their powers have been taken by the executive branch.
As for how the issue should/could be resolved, besides the passing of more legislation to further specifically state who can do what, when, and how it will be done, personal and political views and agendas from both the executive and legislative branch will never be seen eye to eye.
Paul, R. (2013). Ron Paul Says the U.S. Has Military personnel in 130 nations and 900 overseas bases. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/sep/14/ron-paul/ron-paul-says-us-has-military-personnel-130-nation/
Yoo, J. (2013). Like it or not, Constitution allows Obama to strike Syria without Congressional approval. Fox News. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/08/30/constitution-allows-obama-to-strike-syria-without-congressional-approval/
McMahon, R. (2013). Balance of War Powers: The U.S. President and Congress. Counsel on Foreign Relations. Retrieved from http://www.cfr.org/united-states/balance-war-powers-us-president-congress/p13092#p5
(2011). War Powers Act of 1973. New York Times. Retrieved from http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/w/war_powers_act_of_1973/index.html
Constitutional Rights Foundation. (2014). America’s Foreign Policy: A Brief History. War and International Law. Retrieved from http://www.crf-usa.org/war-in-iraq/foreign-policy.html
Corwin, Edward S. The President, Office and Powers, 1787-1957. New York, New York University Press, 1957. p. 171.
Foreign Policy Association. (2014). How U.S. Foreign Policy is Made. Retrieved from http://www.fpa.org/features/index.cfm?act=feature&announcement_id=45&show_sidebar=0
Grimmett, R. (1999). Foreign Policy Roles of the President and Congress. Congressional Research Service Reports and Issue Briefs. Retrieved from http://fpc.state.gov/6172.htm
O’Conner, A. & Tarr, D. (2003). Structure and Powers of Congress. CQ Text in Context. Retrieved from http://cqpress.com/context/constitution/docs/structure_powers.html
Americapedia. (2010). Checks and Balances. Bill of Rights Institute. Retrieved from http://billofrightsinstitute.org/resources/educator-resources/americapedia/americapedia-constitution/checks-and-balances/
Monk, L. Separation on Powers. Constitution USA. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/tpt/constitution-usa-peter-sagal/we-the-people/separation-of-powers/
Understanding Checks and Balances. Rules of Law restoration. Retrieved from http://www.ruleoflawrestoration.com/resources/understanding-checks-and-balances
Kelemen, M. (2015, 06 16). Of 4 Million Syrian Refugees, The U.S. Has Taken Fewer Than 1,000. Retrieved from NPR: http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/06/16/414898818/of-4-million-syrian-refugees-the-u-s-has-taken-fewer-than-1-000
Lenz, T. O., & Holman, M. (2013). American Government. Orange Grove Texts Plus; 4th edition.
Sanger, D. E., & Habernam, M. (2016, 11 15). Donald Trump’s Terrorism Plan Mixes Cold War Concepts and Limits on Immigrants. Retrieved from NYtimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/16/us/politics/donald-trump-terrorism.html?_r=0
Stack, L. (2016, 10 17). Sympathetic Canadians Have a Message for Americans: You Guys Are Great. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/18/world/americas/sympathetic-canadians-have-a-message-for-americans-you-guys-are-great.html