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Libya: Should America Get Involved In Another War In the Middle East?
-By Scott Rohter, March 2011
“The United Nations was created to preserve peace, not to initiate war.”
“The President needs to get permission from Congress, ‘ The People's House,’ before he puts the people or their children in harm’s way!”
I don’t often take exception to anything that conservative radio talk show host and Constitutional law expert, Marc Levin says. But the other day I heard him say that the Constitution does not require the President of the United States, to seek Congressional approval, before sending American soldiers into foreign wars, conflicts, hostilities, or whatever else they would like to call them these days, and putting young American men and women in harm’s way! He said it is only necessary to seek the approval of Congress, if we intend to use overwhelming force to annihilate our enemy! I don’t see that written anywhere in the Constitution, and boy oh boy do I disagree with him! We can nit pick or mince words over what does or does not constitute an actual war. But to me, when you begin bombing another country, that act of aggression is an act of war! It certainly is not an act of peace! Imagine how we would feel if some other country began bombing us? When we initiate an unprovoked attack on a foreign nation that did not directly threaten use in any way, I would say that we picked that fight, and we are asking Americans to put their lives at risk unnecessarily! I would call it an act of war whether we declared it or not, irrespective of whether or not the other country can or will retaliate. Whether they do or don’t is appropriately irrelevant. The entire unprovoked confrontation with Libya is totally optional!
I am getting more than a little bit concerned and uncomfortable about having our American soldiers actively engaged in hostilities in three different countries at the same time, Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya, and deployed all over the world to ‘preserve the peace.’ We are not the world’s policeman! I am not comfortable either with this new United Nations function, of blessing and initiating hostilities all over the world! The United Nations was created to preserve peace, not to initiate war! We are taking a calculated risk in attacking Libya and in doing so we are creating and fostering a precedent to continue to act in such a flagrant manor. Here is what George Washington had to say about precedent. “As the first of everything in our situation will serve to establish a precedent, it is devoutly wished on my part that these precedents may be fixed on true principles.” Do we know whether or not Libya has any allies that will come to her defense, and threaten to broaden the scope of this so-called limited military engagement? Maybe we do, but can we also predict that in the future whenever the UN gives their blessing to another limited war in some other country, that it won’t lead to wider hostilities there? These are some of the questions that our political leaders should consider, before they decide to bomb some other country under the sanction of the United Nations, regardless of the specific circumstances involved in this particular operation, and the worthiness of this particular endeavor! Our actions do have consequences beyond the here and now, and they do set precedents that last far beyond the urgency of any immediate circumstances!
Therefore it is only appropriate for the President of the United States, who is just one man, to appear before the Congress and at least to get their consent, before sending our young men and women into harm’s way! After all the Congress is ‘the People’s House.’ It is the only popularly elected, truly representative body, directly elected by all of the citizens of our country. That is why the Constitution states in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 that only, “Congress shall have the power to provide for the common defense.” And again in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 that only, “Congress shall have the power to declare war.” It doesn’t actually say the word ‘only’, but in that the Constitution delegates this power to no other authority, it does mean ONLY! The President needs to get permission from ‘the People’s House’ before he puts the people or their children in harm’s way!
We have not actually had a Congressional Declaration of War since our country declared war on Japan in 1942, but we have put our brave soldiers in danger far too many times since then, in far too many places all over the world, from Korea to North Africa! Mr. Levin said that the mission in Libya is not an actual war, but it is only a limited military engagement. Let me remind you that the War in Iraq was not an actual war, and it also started out with an aerial bombardment, designed to take out strategic military targets. That so-called limited war is still going on today, and we still have 50,000 troops stationed in Iraq almost ten years later! The War in Afghanistan is not an all-out war either. We are tying our soldier’s hands behind their backs in Afghanistan with complicated and burdensome rules of engagement, the same way that we did in Iraq, and we are asking them to succeed in spite of that fact! In neither one of these conflicts are we using overwhelming force to annihilate our enemies! Yet our soldiers are still dying just the same! It is of no comfort to them or their families that we are not using overwhelming force to achieve decisive victory! And the use of overwhelming force is not the criteria based upon which the President of the United States must get Congressional approval before sending the nation’s young men and women off to risk their lives! It is obviously because the soldiers might die in the service of their country that the constitution requires the President to obtain the permission of Congress before asking the nation’s young men and women to risk their lives!
Libya is another one of these conflicts where we will not be permitted to use overwhelming force to achieve a decisive victory, much like it was in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is the usual bad dictator. In this case it’s Gadhafi instead of Saddam. There is the usual oppressive government, and the people are divided along tribal and religious lines just like they were in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just how many of these ancient conflicts are we supposed to solve? How many of these snake pits are we supposed to step into? And how many Americans have to die in wars all over the world, without an actual Declaration of War by Congress or at least Congressional approval?
What disturbs me most is that, “We the People,” through our popularly elected representatives in Congress, haven’t had a say-so in these matters in over 60 years, since Korea! It seems that the United Nations Security Council approval is all that is required today, for our President to send American men and women off to die or to risk their lives in foreign wars! But Americans don’t elect representatives to the United Nations! The U.N. is not a popularly elected body of this or any other country! I think that represents a little bit of a problem, don’t you? Who is actually authorizing or ordering our troops to engage in battles all around the world? By that I am not talking about a specific command and control decision. I don’t mean a particular battle in a particular conflict where we have soldiers already deployed. I mean who picks the damn wars that we are fighting? It’s obviously not us, their mothers and fathers, their brothers and sisters, their aunts and uncles, and their neighbors and friends! It’s apparently not even our own Congress! Who then? In the case of Libya, it was our unelected Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and our unelected Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, and the other unelected Ambassadors to the United Nations from England and France that voted in the Security Council to institute a No Fly Over Zone in Libya. The other two unelected Ambassadors from China and Russia abstained from voting. Who authorized these unelected Ambassadors to tell our brave young men and women when and where to risk their lives? The Constitution states that the only authority that can send our soldiers off to war is the United States Congress! Who made Barack Obama a King over us, to decide when and where to pick an unprovoked fight with another country without first getting Congressional approval? The answer to both of these questions is NO ONE! And no one appears to be willing to do anything about it either! Once the Congress authorizes the use of military force, the President as Commander in Chief can basically do whatever he wants, but not until then! So who is going to stand up and restore the proper order of things? Who is going to stand up and restore the proper Constitutional relationship between Congress and the Whitehouse? Who is going to insist that the Constitution be followed? It certainly won’t be the Supreme Court! They have been re‑interpreting the Constitution and “original intent” for 235 years! And our supine Congress speaks with so many voices, that they can never seem to get all of their ducks in a row!
Dear Mr. Levin, the Constitution does not state that only in cases where we need to use overwhelming force against our enemies, that the President must receive Congressional approval before sending our soldiers off into harm’s way! It simply says that, “Congress [the People’s House] shall have the power to declare war [and] the power to provide for the common defense.” Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 & 11. In other words, Congress has the power to initiate war, and to authorize our response to war, and the power to fund or not fund a war. There is no mention anywhere in the Constitution about the use of overwhelming force or total annihilation of our enemies! To the contrary there are no such qualifiers found there! Before the President of the United States can send Americans forth into battle, anywhere for any reason, he must first obtain Congressional approval! Period! End of story!
"A journalist has no better friend than the truth." - Scott Rohter