UH Professor Receives National Attention for War Declaration Expertise

Brien Hallett's Book Considered by U.S. Senate in the Drafting of its War Resolution

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Nov 20, 2002

Brien Hallett, a professor with the Matsunaga Institute for Peace at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, recently gained national attention for his expertise in the U.S. Constitution and the act of declaring war. "The Lost Art of Declaring War," Hallett‘s first book, was recognized by the U.S Senate and considered as a reference in drafting the U.S. Senate‘s version of a war resolution against Iraq.

Senator John Breaux from Louisiana notified Hallett in early October that his book was going to aid the U.S. Senate in drafting their war resolution. Chapter two of Hallett‘s book, "Ignoring Democracy and the Constitution," was the main chapter considered by the Senate. "I am ecstatic," Hallett stated when asked of his reaction to the U.S Senate‘s interest in his book.

The subject will also be the focus of a free public lecture Hallett will be holding entitled "Declaring War on Iraq: Who Decides?" on December 13, 2002, at Temple Emanu-El (located at 2550 Pali Highway). A service will begin at 7 p.m. followed by Hallett‘s lecture at 7:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served, and the event is free and open to the public.

In his book "The Lost Art of Declaring War," Hallett focuses on the question, "What is the meaning of Congressional war powers?" Hallett emphasizes in his book the importance of the Constitution as it relates to history and the act of declaring war, stressing that the Constitution declares that Congress, not the President, should make the decision to go to war. However, in the history of the United States‘ government, Congress has never enacted this power. Instead, the commander in chief has always been the one to actually decide.

The U.S. Congress went on to pass a resolution giving the President the freedom to act against Iraq with force. In Hallett‘s opinion, this is the wrong way to approach declaring war. "Congress just authorized the president to act, they did not make the decision to act," he said. "In doing this, democracy is lost."

Hallett has held several colloquiums for students and faculty as well as the general public on the subject of "Declaring war against Iraq." He has also taught a series on globalization and is currently working towards completing two books. His next book will focus on the American wars that took place between 1793 and 1814, partially inspired by criticism he received for not including historical analysis of past wars in his first book.

Hallett joined UH in 1979 as a student working towards a master‘s in English as a Second Language. He later changed fields and put his efforts towards achieving a Ph.D. in political science. A faculty member of the Matsunaga Institute for Peace since 1995, he has taught several peace studies courses including a Survey of Peace and Conflict Studies, Personal Peace, and Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance. He will teach a course on terrorism next semester.