Sometimes, war is necessary. When Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, America has little choice but to fight back to defend its security. The US was able to rally and gather the consensus necessary to go to war. With issues of national security, this consensus building is necessary to ensure a successful operation.
But what about our current political system? Can our leaders agree on anything, let alone an important issue of national security?
Aside from something like a direct military strike on the US, it would be hard to build a consensus for war in today’s political climate. Foreign policy platforms for Democrats and Republicans seem to just disagree with each other blindly. The inability for the two parties to agree on anything would probably translate into a decision to go to war (or how to do it) as well.
Historically, foreign policy has had a blurrier line between what constituted a Democratic or Republican ideal. Both parties engage in war, and both have advocated for peace. Both have conducted humanitarian interventions, and both have sought to build our presence around the world. The difference to day is that the lines are still blurred, but parties automatically reject the view of the other side. With less consensus building, less is getting done. And when national security is at stake, it is important that Congress not be deadlocked and unable to come to a conclusion on an issue.
The "Rally Around the Flag" principle will work to some extent, but it will only go so far as Congress is willing to compromise. There is already disapproval with Congress, and they haven't been changing the way they do their job. It might take a huge national security issue to text our ability to work through gridlock, but we should hope it doesn't have to.