What Does It Mean to “Provide for the Common Defense?”

The phrase “provide for the common defence,” which is in the U.S. Constitution’s preamble, gives the federal government the power to keep a military to protect and defend its people.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to “raise and support armies” and “provide and maintain a navy.” Article II says that the president is in charge of the army and that he or she can declare war.

These statements make sure that the federal government puts national defence at the top of its list of priorities. Also, it gives the government the job of keeping the peace by keeping a military that is run by the state.

By having a military to protect the country, the government upholds the unalienable rights of its citizens to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which are written in the Declaration of Independence.

The Founding Fathers’ Role

The Founding Fathers didn’t like how the government ran things under the Articles of Confederation, which governed the 13 colonies. This made them think of the idea of a federal defence.

At first, defence was up to the states, but the Founding Fathers saw that the country was weak and that it needed a strong, unified military to deal with both domestic and foreign threats. To make national defence a top priority without giving too much power to one part of the government, Congress and the president each took on some defence tasks.

The goal was to make a military that could protect the American people without being so strong that it got in the way of government.

The Founding Fathers didn’t trust centralised government, so they wrote the Constitution so that the army and navy would be run by civilians. So, the Constitution gives the president the power to control the army and oversee how it works.

It also makes the president the country’s top diplomat, which means he is expected to work for peace when the country is not at war.

Changes in the U.S. Military

In addition to giving Congress and the president different roles in the military, the Constitution says that the U.S. military should be strong even when there is peace. President George Washington agreed with this idea. He said that the fastest way to get peace was to always be ready for war.

He tried to get a lot of money for the military, something that many presidents after him have also done. Since Congress doesn’t say how much money the government can spend to protect its people, each president and Congress can decide on a military budget.

The Constitution also lets the army and navy use new technologies and get more up-to-date over time so that they can protect the American people in the best way possible.

The federal government has many powers, including the right to protect its people with an army. The government also has other jobs that affect the health, safety, and well-being of the people who live there.

The federal government also has the power to make and circulate money, to punish people for actions that can’t be punished by a state government, to protect the country’s natural resources and environment, and to make rules about public health and workplace safety.

The government can also make it illegal to attack U.S. planes or let foreign planes fly into U.S. airspace without permission, and punish those who do.

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.

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