“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
Thus spake presidential candidate Barack Obama. So according to his own words and stated beliefs, the current military action in Libya is unconstitutional. Dennis Kucinich, Democratic Congressman from Ohio, introduced articles of impeachment against President Bush for invading Iraq absent a declaration of war. At least President Bush had the fig leaf of Congressional authorization.
What does President Obama have versus his own words as a candidate? One can quibble about the “unilaterally” in that we are acting in concert with our allies, but clearly that is not the meaning candidate Obama intended. In making the statement, he was answering the question, “In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress?” Emphasis mine.
Is Libya an actual or imminent threat to the United States? Hardly. Libya served on the United Nations Human Rights council until three weeks ago. In 2009 dictator Moammar Khadafy praised Obama effusively in a UN speech, expressing the hope that “Obama can stay forever the President of the United States.” Khadafy also said, “”We Africans are happy, proud that a son of Africa governs the United States of America.”
To be sure, Khadafy is no damn good. American blood is on his hands, and the world will hardly be worse off without him. Much better people than Khadafy have tire tracks from the Obama bus all across their backs. Yet for the past ten years Khadafy has been neutered, whereas much more dangerous mad dogs in Iran and North Korea roam unspayed. Hugo Chavez is more anti-American, just as intolerant of dissent, and in our own hemisphere. The Castro brothers reign 90 miles from American soil. Moreover, Venezuela could reasonably be expected to return to democratic, pro-American rule without Chavez; does anyone think Libya likely to turn into a flourishing democratic ally once Khadafy goes?
When Britain and France ganged up on Nasser over Suez, President Eisenhower wisely demurred. In the 1950s America’s ability to project American power and America’s finances were much better than today. Yet Eisenhower recognized where long-term American interests lay. Barack Obama is not so astute.
Peter Hitchens, writing for the Daily Mail, makes the case why the United Kingdom should not intervene in Libya. Many of the same reasons apply to American interests in this situation:
Politics seems to have become a sort of mental illness. We have no bloody business in Libya, and no idea what we hope to achieve there.
We are daily told that we have no money to spare. We have just scrapped a large part of our Navy.
Our Army is stuck in an Afghan war whose point nobody can explain. And now we have set out on a course that could drag us into a long, gory brawl in North Africa….
Reporters, much like politicians, like to feel they are helping to make history, and get excited by subjects they knew nothing about until last Wednesday.
Before we know where we are, we are taking sides in quarrels we don’t understand. Who are the Libyan rebels? What do they want? Why do we love them so?
…The only sensible policy in Libya is to wait and see who wins, and then make friends with them. If you think this heartless, you are of course right. Foreign policy is heartless. Nice countries end up being conquered or going bankrupt. But it may be no more heartless than our kindly interference.
I asked a few days ago, “Why are we in Libya?” Well, we weren’t so much in Libya then as we are now, yet the question remains unanswered. I suspect it has something to do with Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in that the growing perception of him as a weak, indecisive leader was putting that re-election in jeopardy. On the far left, he may lose some support for the Libyan attack, but in the end, those people will vote for him rather than face the prospect of any of the Republican candidates’ winning. Inevitably others will rally patriotically to his evidence of being a strong horse. If President Obama has attacked Libya purely out of political self-interest, it’s difficult to imagine a more impeachment-worthy offense.
Thus far all indications are that is exactly what has happened.