Examine the president's role as commander and chief
March 27, 2003
Web posted at: 12:23 AM EST (0523 GMT)
OVERVIEW: Coalition troops advanced north in Iraq on Wednesday, as humanitarian aid arrived in southern Iraq. President Bush cautioned that the war in Iraq "is not easy and it may be long." He spoke in Florida on Wednesday during his visit to the headquarters of the U.S. Central Command. He later met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss war strategy.
After students read "U.S. captures Iraqi airfield; Bush works to quiet critics" and watch the first segment of CNN Student News (the video can be accessed from CNNStudentNews.com) pose the following questions:
1. Where did President Bush travel on Wednesday? According to the story, what was Bush's major goal in comments he made at Central Command Headquarters? What does Bush say about the progress of the war in Iraq? Do you agree that Bush's visit was "part pep talk, part rebuttal"? Explain.
2. Who is Tony Blair? What topics did Bush and Blair discuss in a meeting on Wednesday? What is Blair's position regarding the role of the U.N. after the war in Iraq? How is it different from the president's position?
3. Point out to students that, as President Bush visited Central Command Headquarters, he was filling his role as commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces. Ask students if they know what this title means, and what gives the U.S. president the authority to command the nation's military. If they are unsure, direct them to copies of the U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 2, which states:
"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States..."
Remind students that although constitutional framers gave the president power to command the armed forces, they also provided a system of checks and balances so that any one branch of government, including the president's Executive Branch, could not hold unlimited power. Divide the class into small groups. Challenge each group to conduct research to examine some ways that the Legislative Branch checks and balances the president's power as commander in chief. Groups will want to consider such examples as Congress' power to control funding for military operations and the War Powers Act. Have groups share their information with the class. Why do students think the framers of the Constitution specified the president's role as commander in chief, yet limited his power to totally control the military? Discuss.