Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: Pearl Harbor and Declaring War

By Cody M. Poplin
Thursday, December 11, 2014, 9:30 PM

Editor’s note: For quite a while now, social media enthusiasts have been using the hashtag #tbt (or, in long-form, “Throwback Thursday”) as a way to reminisce about the past. Now Lawfare has decided to get in on the action by means of a new feature. Each week, Lawfare will turn back in time to a specific event, and briefly explain how it relates to today’s security and/or legal environment.  

This last Sunday---December 7th---marked the 73rd anniversary of the surprise Japanese attack on the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. It would be, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt accurately predicted, a day that would live in "infamy." The President's denunciation came as he stood in a combined session of Congress to request that Senators and Representatives recognize the existence of a state of war between the United States and Imperial Japan---and, in addition, authorize him to prosecute the war to its fullest extent. That declaration, and the subsequent declarations against Axis powers, mark the last occasion on which the United States declared war.

The anniversary prompts a reconsideration of the six declarations of war passed by Congress during World War Two. The subject is relevant, given Senator Rand Paul's draft legislation regarding the use of force against the Islamic State---the only recent proposal, of which we are aware, that includes a congressional declaration of  war. (On Lawfare, Jack Goldsmith covered Senator Paul’s draft declaration, and accompanying authorization of force, here and here.)

Without further ado, here are the six World War II declarations---the text of which comprise this week's truncated #tbt.  

Declaration of War against Imperial Japan:

Whereas the Imperial Government of Japan has committed unprovoked acts of war against the Government and the people of the United states of America:

Therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in
Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and the Imperial
Government of Japan which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally
declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and
military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial Government of Japan; and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.

Declaration of War against Germany:

Whereas the Government of Germany has formally declared war against the Government and the people of the United States of America:

Therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and the Government of Germany which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Government of Germany; and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.

Declaration of War against Italy:

Whereas the Government of Italy has formally declared war against the Government and the people of the United States of America

Therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and the Government of Italy which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Government of Italy; and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.

Declaration of War against Hungary:

Whereas the Government of Hungary has formally declared war against the Government and the people of the United States of America:

Therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in
Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and the Government of
Hungary which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Government of Hungary; and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.

Declaration of War against Bulgaria:

Whereas the Government of Bulgaria has formally declared war against the Government and the people of the United States of America:

Therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in
Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and the Government of
Bulgaria which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Government of Bulgaria; and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.

Declaration of War against Romania:

Whereas the Government of Rumania has formally declared war against the Government and the people of the United States of America:

Therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in
Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and the Government of
Rumania which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Government of Rumania; and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.