Chaining The Dogs Of War — The Rule Of Law And The Libya Failure


For the third time I have voted against starting another war. Today I voted against two resolutions that would have congressionally authorized continuing, but supposedly limited, military operations in Libya. We are already militarily engaged in two fronts, Iraq and Afghanistan, and in my view, a third front on our Southwest border.

Our nation has the most professional, most disciplined, best trained and best equipped military in the world. When we choose to use our armed forces, it has to be for the most compelling national interests. Before one American military life is potentially sacrificed, before our munitions kill a declared enemy, we as a nation must be certain that military action is the best option. President Obama has completely failed to make the case for war against Libya.

The fact that we are participating in an armed conflict in Libya is troubling for several reasons. First, our Constitution vests the decision to authorize war with Congress. Under Article 1, Sec. 8, Congress has the power to declare war, raise and support the armed forces, and control the war funding. This means the president has to approach Congress and get its permission to engage in an armed conflict. Once Congress authorizes the act of hostilities, how the war is handled (i.e., the strategy to win the conflict, how many troops, what units, etc.), are decisions for the president as commander in chief under Article II, Sec. 2. We in Congress are not arm-chair generals that can dictate military strategy. It is another reason why the proposed resolutions that professed to withhold consent for ground troops in Libya are ineffective. Congress cannot dictate military strategy. It funds wars. It authorizes war. Winning the war falls to the commander in chief.

Putting aside criticism of the War Powers Resolution, it is still the law. Under that act, the president could only act unilaterally if “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces exists.”

Our national borders and national interests were not in imminent jeopardy. Even then the president must go to Congress for approval within 60 days. With Libya, no one can credibly state our national interests were imminently at risk. But even if they were, the president failed to timely get congressional approval.

This brings me to another concern. We are a nation of laws. The president has shown a shocking disregard for our laws. Ignoring the Constitution and starting a war with Libya violates the rule of law. It has been reported that the president’s own legal advisers at the Pentagon and the Department of Justice advised him to get congressional approval before continuing air strikes in Libya. Failing to comply with the War Powers Act violates the rule of law. Failing to enforce our immigration laws violates the rule of law. Allowing the sale of weapons to drug cartels through Operation Fast and Furious and failing to track them thus creating well armed, unmonitored violent drug runners resulting in the death of border patrol agents is a violation of the rule of law. Granting waivers from the nationalized health care law for presidential friends and supporters violates the rule of law.

I am not an isolationist. I simply demand that our Constitution be followed. Had the president made a compelling case to bomb Libya, had he shown our national interest there, I would have considered backing this. But he failed to do so and has continued to fail in his leadership role. I will remain committed to our rule of law and expect all government officials to do the same. May God bless you and may God bless America!


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