Rather than get permission for the war, Obama waged it illegally. The rule of law in the U.S. will suffer, whatever the outcome overseas.
My colleague Michael Hirsch makes the case that President Obama has won a "quiet victory" in Libya with the downfall of Moammar Qaddafi. "Obama's strategy amounted to staying resolutely behind the scenes throughout the five-month NATO air operation. To wit: Don't say the United States is openly engaged in ousting Qaddafi. Don't even concede the United States is going to war," he writes. "Take cover behind a political imprimatur for action from the Arab League and United Nations, and let Europe lead the strike forces. Then modestly take credit."
And "the downside of such a low-profile, stealthy U.S. role"?
According to Hirsch, it's that "it becomes that much harder to win kudos for leadership, a critical issue for Obama as he heads into the 2012 election year with his approval ratings at worrisome levels." Perhaps. But I submit that there are other downsides worth noting even as Qaddafi falls.
1) This strategy required that President Obama lie to the American people about waging a war of choice, going so far as to deny, in a memorable Orwellian twist, that the campaign even counted as hostilities.