The Founding Fathers had high hopes that military adventurism could be prevented through constitutional checks. As Alexander Hamilton wrote: “The legislature…will be obliged…every two years, to deliberate upon the propriety of keeping a military force on foot; to come to a new resolution on the point; and to declare their sense of the matter, by a formal vote in the face of their constituents…As often as the question comes forward, the public attention will be roused and attracted to the subject” (emphasis added). Hamilton was mistaken.
As the U.S. has preserved and expanded its global military posture, post-Cold War presidents of both parties have consistently committed the military abroad in an expanding series of campaigns or other obligations. These endeavors frequently lack a compelling enough relationship to American vital security interests to justify their costs and consequences.