Many readers have said that the War Powers Act does indeed give the president the legal right to initiate a war without Congressional vote. Maybe I wasn't clear enough. I do not doubt that, even though it seems to me that that Act makes a mockery of the separation of powers. But I don't want to get into that debate, since it has largely been settled. My point is that Obama made a specific distinction on this in the campaign. And I quote again:
"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."
My only point on this is that the decision to commit military forces in North Africa - made on a dime in one Tuesday meeting - is a direct breaking of that campaign promise.
There is no actual or imminent threat to America from Libya. I supported Obama against first Clinton and then McCain because I knew full well that both Clinton and McCain were unrepentant fans of presidential war-making powers and had both supported almost every war in their political lives. I wanted someone with more restraint. But the president we supported is not, it is now clear, the president that we have. In the stingingly smug words of uber-partisan Glenn Reynolds:
They told me if I voted for John McCain, we’d be bombing Arab countries while the supporters of the bombing promised that we’d be greeted as liberators. And they were right!
It's just brutal to have supported Obama's foreign policy for so long, only to see it morph into a multilateral version of McCain's so swiftly. The whiplash is jarring.
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