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The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11 Paperback – October 2, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0226960326 ISBN-10: 0226960323

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 378 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (October 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226960323
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226960326
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A convincing and judicious case for the need in a post-September 11 era to re-evaluate what the Constitution says about foreign affairs. Mr. Yoo's book covers a broad range of foreign policy areas like international law, treaties and multilateralism and addresses each with clarity and scholarly care. But at its heart, The Powers of War and Peace is a scathing criticism of those whom he argues have neglected their constitutional responsibility. . . . A valuable contribution to the tradition of works about the Constitution and foreign affairs. Like The Prince, it uses insider knowledge to boldly state political truths that others dare not utter."
(Nicholas J. Xenakis Washington Times 2005-10-25)

"Can the president of the United States do whatever he likes in wartime without oversight from Congress or the courts? This year, the issue came to a head as the Bush administration struggled to maintain its aggressive approach to the detention and interrogation of suspected enemy combatants in the war on terrorism. But this was also the year that the administration's claims about presidential supremacy received their most sustained intellectual defense [in] The Powers of War and Peace."
(Jeffrey Rosen New York Times 2005-12-11)

"There is a refreshing elegance to Yoo's theory. Forgoing hair-splitting doctrinal debates about congressional and executive claims to primacy in foreign affairs, Yoo tells the two branches to duke it out politically, deploying their allocated powers to reach a political equilibrium. By shifting the debate from the legal to the political arena, Yoo's theory promotes frank discussion of the national interest and makes it harder for politicians to parade policy conflicts as constitutional crises. Most important, Yoo's approach offers a way to renew our political system's democratic vigor. . . . An impressive scholarly achievement, The Powers of War and Peace should be read by anyone with an interest in constitutional law and foreign policy."
(David B. Rivkin Jr. & Carlos Ramos-Mrosovsky National Review 2005-11-21)

“The book argues that the Constitution gives the president a much larger role in foreign affairs and military operations than the other two branches of the federal government, that the president does not need a congressional declaration of war before placing troops on the ground and that treaties ratified the Senate have no legal impact unless Congress explicitly passes laws saying that they do.”
(Neal Katyal Washington Post) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

John Yoo is professor of law at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He served as general counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee; as a law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas and Judge Laurence H. Silberman; and, from 2001 to 2003, as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice.

More About the Author

John Yoo is Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. He received his B.A., summa cum laude, in American history from Harvard University. Between college and law school, he worked as a newspaper reporter in Washington, D.C. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was an articles editor of the Yale Law Journal. He then clerked for Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the D.C. Circuit.

Yoo clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Supreme Court. He served as general counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee from 1995-96. From 2001 to 2003, he served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he worked on issues involving foreign affairs, national security and the separation of powers.

Yoo has published articles about foreign affairs, international law and constitutional law in the nation's leading law journals. He has also contributed to the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Philadelphia Inquirer, to the Ricochet blog, and to the Lawtalk podcast.

Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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This is just one of many examples why Yoo has no clue.
J. Lorentzsen
Clearly the good professor doesn't seem to grasp this essential concept as elucidated by one of our most respected and revered Founders.
Stephen Jones
Mr Yoo however does not adequately explain how the President can thus overturn congressional treaty ratification.
M. Wilson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brien Hallett on September 24, 2014
Format: Paperback
John Yoo's The powers of war and peace: the constitution and foreign affairs after 9/11 (2005) employs three true statements to conclude that presidents have "sole authority to initiate hostilities." First, he uses an "original understanding" doctrine to demonstrate that, in the late eighteenth century, Americans, Britons, and others, all understood the initiation of hostilities as a royal prerogative. He documents this fact with contemporary dictionary citations and numerous citations from legal and scholarly works. Second, Yoo notes that presidents have always made the initial decision. Third, Congress has declared war on only four occasions, and not once since WWII.

From these three certainly true facts, he concludes that, "Declarations of war serve a purpose, albeit one that does not answer to the sole authority to initiate hostilities. Declarations do simply what they say they do: they declare. To use the eighteenth-century understanding, they make public, show openly, and make known the state of international legal relationship between the United States and another country" (151).

Yet, unless one is already predisposed to believe that presidents have "sole authority," it is difficult to agree with Yoo's conclusion. The point he ignores is that, in 1776, the colonists rebelled against all royal prerogatives, thereby radically changing the definition of executive power. Further, in 1787, the Founders drafted a Constitution specifically designed to repudiate kings, their prerogatives, and all the trappings of monarchy, including the royal prerogative to declare war. Consequently, the revolution that is the Declare War was drafted specifically to overturn the "original understanding" of previous centuries.
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Format: Hardcover
EDITED 17 Oct 07 to add links to ten relevant books.

There is absolutely no question but that the author of this book is patriotic, educated (after the American fashion), and well-intentioned. Sadly, this does not mean that he has any common sense, any historical context, any strategic vision, nor any relevance to the future. Indeed, and I rarely write negative reviews (5 out of 1015+), this book is most useful for understanding the ignorance and arrogance of Presidential sycophants who place loyalty to a single man and office and party (or rather, ideological branch of the party) above their loyalty to the Constitution, the Republic, or the public interests they are supposed to be defending.

The book is best summarized by a quote from a White House staffer who is reported to have said, in talking to an expert on foreign affairs, "You must be one of those reality-based people. We are an empire, we make our own reality."

The problem with this arrogant and ignorant statement, which is manifested throughout this interesting book, is that a reality based on ideological fantasy and the security of hiding behind the Secret Service completely begs off on confronting the harsh realities of a world in which 5 billion pissed off poor people are inevitably going to sponsor 1 million armed terrorists who know how to create Improvised Explosive Devises (IED) and know how to deliver the "death of a thousand cuts" to US infrastructure (water and fuel pipelines, energy generators, shipping port cranes, key communications switching stations, key banks, etc.
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27 of 45 people found the following review helpful By LA Federalist on January 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is an important book in order to understand the Constitution and the response to 9/11. The attacks on this book here are ridiculous. Even liberal critics of the Bush administration and Yoo think this is an important book. Cass Sunstein, a famous liberal law professor, wrote a review in the New Republic that said: "The most important theorist of the 9/11 Constitution is John Yoo." He says "Yoo has offered an inventive and provocative set of arguments about fundamental questions, and he presents his arguments with unmistakable determination and all the skill of a good lawyer."
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35 of 58 people found the following review helpful By San Francisco Lawyer on December 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Critics posted here sound like they have not read this book. There are negative reviews of the book and positive ones, like Rivkin's in the National Review. People should buy the book and read it and decide for themselves. It explains the history behind the legal controversies over foreign affairs that have been going on for years. Defenders and critics of the Bush administration would do well to learn this history and the legal arguments before they argue over today's policies.
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29 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Charles J. Rector on October 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Ever since 9/11, the Bush Administration has been harshly criticized for its War on Terrorism. Many of its critics have taken the position that its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are unconstitutional. The War on Terrorism combined with the Bush Administration's decisions regarding both the ABM Treaty and the Kyoto accords have provoked strong allegations that the Constitution's framework for foreign policy has been dismantled.

The author of The Powers of War and Peace : The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11, John Yoo, is a former lawyer in the Bush Justice Department. He argues that the Bush Administration's foreign policy has solid precedent in the actions of previous administrations.

Yoo points out that from the Undeclared Naval War With France in 1798 through Bill Clinton's war in Kosovo in 1999, American presidents have often prosecuted armed conflicts without formal declarations of war. He argues that the Constitution grants different powers over foreign policy to Congress, the courts and the presidency, requiring these institutions to negotiate what the country's foreign policy is. Yoo's argument is based on the original intent of the Founding Fathers supplemented with constitutional law and history.

For instance, Yoo argues that just because a war is undeclared does not mean that it is unconstitutional. He points out that Congress's power of the purse gives it an effective veto power over executive decisions to go to war. He also points out that the 1973 War Powers Resolution has been systematically violated and has been treated as being de facto unconstituitional almost since the day that it was passed.
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