The Constitution grants Congress, not the President, the power to decide when the nation will go to war. The War Powers Resolution gives the President the power to wage war for 60 days without congressional authority, but only in response to an attack on the nation. Such an attack against the United States was never launched by Libya, so Barack Obama was obliged by federal law and the Constitution to seek congressional authorization before bringing the United States into the civil war in Libya.
Obama failed to do so. He violated the law, and began military attacks against the government of Libya. Those attacks have gone on for two months now, and yet have failed to protect Libyan civilians from attack. The United States has entered yet another quagmire.
U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich has taken the passage of two months of the United States in yet another war as an opportunity to reassert the proper role of the President as subject to Congress in decisions of entry into war. Kucinich stated:
“President Obama violated the Constitution by pursuing war against Libya without a Constitutionally-required authorization for the use of military force or declaration of war from Congress. His actions, and now his policy recitations, set the stage for more interventions, presumably in Syria and Iran. His recounting of the reasons for U.S. intervention in Libya is at odds with the facts. There was no clear evidence of an impending massacre in Libya. There was menacing rhetoric and a violent government put-down of an armed insurrection which may have been joined by some with legitimate non-violent aspirations. No one can justify the actions of any parties to this conflict. In any case, discretion requires leaders to move with the utmost care in developing military responses to rhetoric and similar care to intervention in a civil war.
â€œThe UN mandate to protect civilians was exceeded almost immediately and used as a pretext for regime change. The U.S. and NATO are one in Libya. Our nation, through NATO, has taken sides in a civil war which is spreading more violence throughout Libya and putting more civilians’ at risk. The Interim Council of the rebels moved quickly to a $100 million oil marketing agreement with Qatar, unmasking a potential reason for intervention: control over Libya’s vast oil fields which can yield over $300 million in oil daily. The military intervention in a civil war against the backdrop of a struggle for oil casts a shadow of doubt upon lofty rhetoric about positive change, peace and stability. That the U.S. has not intervened militarily in Bahrain and Yemen demonstrates that violent intervention carries high risks and political resolution of conflict is desirable. We must be prepared to seek political resolution of conflicts through statecraft not through military force.”