Obama, War Powers And Reality

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The sad reality of President Barack Obama’s policies towards Libya is not that it is in direct violation of the War Powers act (which it is). It’s not that he’s the first President to “side step” the law (because he’s not). It isn’t that the conflict will cost billions of dollars, or even that we’re over extended in the Middle East.

President Obama’s reasoning as to why he doesn’t need approval for from the Congress is contradictory, in it of itself. The first statement says: 

“The president is of the view that the current U.S. military operations in Libya are consistent with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require further congressional authorization, because U.S. military operations are distinct from the kind of ‘hostilities’ contemplated by the resolution’s 60-day termination provision.”

For one, the President acknowledged that these are military actions. Actions which typically include force. What makes the statement above so baffling is the next quote taken from the two page letter sent from to President to House Speaker Boehner: 

“Taken in response to direct appeals from the Libyan people, and acting with a mandate from the United Nations, the United States mobilized a broad coalition, stopped an advancing army, prevented a massacre, established a no-fly zone, and limited the spread of violence and instability in a region pivotal to U.S. security interests.”

Why is it that President Obama doesn’t feel as though stopping an army and establishing no fly zones constitute the appropriate “hostilities” to notify the congress? The logic seems baffling until you understand the real reason why this is all happening in the first place.

Most times, the lines that are drawn in American politics, over policy, is cut with a “D” or an “R” stamp. Everything from guns, healthcare and energy plans require that you take side and ride the donkey or elephant. Not here though. When you have Rep. Dennis Kucinich and, House Speaker, John Boehner on the same side it is time to reconsider where the lines are drawn. That’s because the lines are drawn between the legislative and the executive branches of government.

For the last quarter century the President has increasingly accessed more and more authority as Commander-In-Chief, without congressional authorization (President Reagan had Lebanon, Clinton had Kosovo, George W. Bush had Iraq). The reason Presidents do this is to avoid any resemblance of weakness to the international community. Don’t believe me? Consider this: One of the main reasons President Obama feels he is within his right to attack Libya, without notifying the Congress, is because he has authority from the United Nations.

It is Obama’s belief that the Executive branch’s authority, along with the  U.N.’s authorization, out strips that of the Constitution and the Legislative branch of the United States’ government. Legally speaking, he’s dead wrong. However, that has very little bearing on what will actually happen. The truth is that very little will change. The lawsuit filed with bi-partisan support in congress will not be heard by the courts because they will not interject themselves in a fight with the other two branches of government. President Obama will continue his efforts and policies in the Middle East with little interference from congress and it will all be a forgotten memory, lumped in with the chaos that is the Middle East.

And that, my friends, is the sad reality. No matter how often things change, the world finds a way to stay the same and its usually the worst features that remain intact.


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