Declarations of war are declarative speech acts. Hence, the primary purpose of this chapter is to move beyond the lexical or dictionary meaning so as to discover the moral and procedural structure of declarative speech acts. To do this, the point of departure is a brief exploration of the relationship between the declaring and waging war. Why declare war if most wars are “undeclared?”
A secondary purpose is to explain and understand the moral and procedural implications of various foundational American texts: the American Constitution’s Declare War Clause and the declarations of war reproduced in Appendix A, as well as those reproduced in Appendices B and C.
An historical account of executive war-making and the rise of elected constitutional monarchies is used to distinguish democratic politics from republican constitutions. The account moves from the ancient concepts of power and majesty to the medieval concept of sovereignty. Jean Bodin, John Locke, and Montesquieu’s confusion over the functional analysis of “sovereignty” is then leveraged to explain, in part, the incapacity of legislatures to decide and declare war.
In an effort to better understand and explain the incapacity of legislatures to decide and declare war, executive decision-making is contrasted with collective decision-making. Both functional and organizational contrasts are explored.