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Key terms from war resolutions in post-World War II era

Congress is expected this week to approve overwhelmingly a resolution authorizing President Bush to go to war against Iraq.

The language essentially grants power to use military force without any restrictions. In that it is similar to previous congressional grants of power, such as the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which President Lyndon B. Johnson used as his authority to escalate the war in Vietnam.

Key terms from similar resolutions in the post-World War II era follow:


On March 9, 1957, Congress authorized President Dwight D. Eisenhower "to undertake, in the general area of the Middle East, military assistance programs with any nation or group of nations desiring such assistance." In addition, the resolution provided that "if the president determines the necessity thereof, the United States is prepared to use armed forces" to help any nation in the region resist international communism. That authority would expire when the president determined that Middle East peace and security was "reasonably assured."


On Aug. 10, 1964, Congress enacted a resolution authorizing the president "to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack" against U.S. military forces and "to prevent further aggression" in Southeast Asia. It also declared that the United States is "prepared, as the president determines, to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force" to support any U.S. ally in Southeast Asia "in defense of its freedom." The authority would expire when the president determined that "peace and security in the area is reasonably assured" or if Congress terminated it.

IRAQ, 1991

On Jan. 12, 1991, Congress passed a resolution authorizing President George H.W. Bush "to use U.S. armed forces pursuant to U.N. Security Council Resolution 678 to achieve implementation of the earlier Security Council resolutions" demanding the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait. The resolution required the president first to report that diplomatic efforts to achieve this goal had failed.


On Sept. 14, 2001, Congress authorized President George W. Bush "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons. . . . "

IRAQ, 2002

This week Congress is expected to approve a resolution authorizing President Bush "to use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq."

The resolution would require the president to report to the House of Representatives and the Senate no later than 48 hours after his use of force that diplomatic or other peaceful means would not adequately protect the United States and that military action against Iraq remained consistent with U.S. efforts to mobilize allies in the war against terrorists.


(c) 2002, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.