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War Powers - Conversation Starter 3 - The Federalist No. 4, John Jay

[A]bsolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal, such as thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans. These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people. But, independent of these inducements to war, which are more prevalent in absolute monarchies, but which well deserve our attention, there are others which affect nations as often as kings; and some of them will on examination be found to grow out of our relative situation and circumstances.

Focus Questions

1. What personal experiences and historical trends would have informed the framers' views about the perils of war powers being vested in an absolute monarch?

2. To what extent do you think the skepticism about a monarch's capacity to put aside the personal for the good of a country in matters of war is relevant to our understanding of the war powers outlined in the U.S. Constitution? Why?

3. To what extent can the U.S. President be held accountable for exercising war powers in the best interest of the nation in a way that it isn't possible for an absolute monarch to be held accountable?

4. Scholars maintain that the framers of the Constitution never envisioned that the President would be the leader of a political party. Might such leadership affect the President's exercise of war powers? How so?