deyan ranko brashich & nikola kostich
Our Constitution has been criticized for being vague and subject to interpretation with changing morals and times. Scholars and judges have wrestled with the meanings of “establishment of religion”, “freedom of speech”, “right of the people to keep and bear arms”, “cruel and unusual punishment”, “unreasonable search”. However, the Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, makes it crystal clear that Congress, and only Congress, shall have Power
“To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;”
The Civil War, America’s first modern war with weapons of mass destruction and casualties in the hundreds of thousands, was presided over by Abraham Lincoln. Perhaps it is apt to consider his take on the War Powers Clause when he sat in Congress and debated the beginning of the Mexican-American War in 1846:
“The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood.”
President Obama is not a “king”. He and his Adninistration’s [Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder and the Generals and Admirals constituting the Joint Chiefs of Staff] violation of the War Powers Clause by unilateral military action in Lybia should be condemned and not condonned.
Now don’t confuse me with euphemisms like “no fly” zones. That is pure unadulterated Orwellian double speak. It’s a war, that’s what it is, pure and simple. Secretary of Defense, or should it be Secretary of War, rightfully said “Let’s just call a spade a spade. A “no-fly” zone begins with an attack on
to destroy the air defenses.” We are now bombing not only their air defenses but we are destroying tanks, military installations and their “beans and bullets” as one of our generals aptly put it. If that ain’t war, what is? You can’t hide a war by calling it a “limited military engagement aimed to protect civilians”. You can’t deny engaging in regime change when you target a regime’s leader with your smart bombs and missiles. Libya
Americans and their elected Representatives sitting in Congress have for too long allowed Presidents to abuse their power. Starting with Harry Truman and his “Police Action” rightfully called the Korean War with some 50,000 dead American soldiers. Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon all wallowed through the Vietnam War. Reagan had his Granada moment, and Bush I had Panama and the Gulf War. Bush II got us into the mess in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We all expected more from Obama. Yet he sorely disappoints us. First he reneged on Afghanistan and Guantanamo. He authorized military action in Pakistan, our ally, and one that we support yearly with billions of dollars. But Libya is were Congress and we the people should draw the line, the line in the sands of Libya.
The reason for Congress’ inaction is dodging the blame game should something go disastrously wrong. “It’s the other guy’s fault” sydrome of modern politics, the Alfred E. Newman “Who, me?” moment. In fairness the Presidents have sported Congressional fig leafs of War Power Resolutions and Congressional funding of their wars. It is time for Congress to fully shoulder its constitutionally mandated responsibility in declaring war, if war is what the people want.
Now don’t give us that the exigency of the situation required Obama to act without Congressional approval. That’s bull. Obama and his administration dithered for days before raming through the United Nations Security Council Resolution authorizing a “no fly” regimes, with five nations abstaining. Do we have to remind you the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred on
December 7, 1941 and that Congress declared war on December 8? You have a simple resolution and you vote for or against it. War or no War. That the right and honest way of doing it.
It’s time that we jerk the President’s leash and bring him to heel. Remind him, and future Presidents, that the prerogative of war is not his to make. Force Congress to reassume its Constitutional power to represent us in deciding if war is want we want, what we are willing to pay for, and ultimately to die for.
The world is peopled with bad actors, despots and dictators. Muammar el-Qaddafi is a prime example and as crazy as a “Mad Hatter” to boot. That said, there is a right way and a wrong way to invoke the War Powers Clause. We must insist on the right way or no way.