Fallows makes the broader case against unilateral executive action in Libya:
The central concern, and the major threat to our politics, is that once again we are going to war essentially on one person's say-so. Yes, that person is the Commander in Chief; yes, he is committing force for what he considers to be good and prudent reasons; and yes, there are modern circumstances in which a President must be free to act first and consult later.But after three months of combat, and after several decades of drift toward unilateral Executive Branch action on matters of war and peace, Obama is doing a disservice to the nation, history, and himself by insisting that the decision should be left strictly to him. If the Libyan campaign ultimately "goes well," he will not in any way lessen his own political and historic credit by having involved the Congress. If it goes poorly, he will be politically safer if this is not just his own judgment-call war. More important, in either case he will have helped the country if his conduct restores rather than further weakens the concept that a multi-branch Constitutional republic must share the responsibility to commit force. We can only imagine the eloquence with which a Candidate Obama would be making this exact case were he not in the White House now.
Conor gives a more technical rebuttal:
What's evident from all this is that President Obama's argument for why he is in compliance with the War Powers Resolution is mostly made up of irrelevant assertions. It doesn't matter that our Predator drone strikes are limited, or that we're mostly supporting the armed forces of other nations, or acting as part of an international body, or that the war was launched to prevent a humanitarian disaster. Nor does it matter that "U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces."None of those things gets Obama out of the requirements of this legislation, nor is there any hint in its language that they would -- in fact, insofar as it's specified, various provisions are triggered by merely being in another country's airspace or accompanying forces from other nations while they are engaged in hostilities. The notion that we're engaged in a special kind of post-NATO-handover "hostilities" not covered by the War Powers Resolution is unsupported, and, even ignoring that, President Obama indisputably violated at least one other provision of the legislation before the NATO handover.
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