Andrew McCarthy posted an article this morning that details the reasons why going into Libya may be a bad thing, but not getting congressional approval is worse. I would be inclined to believe him.
Many conservatives (particularly neoconservatives) are strong supporters of intervention, out of a deep conviction that the global advance of freedom promotes American security. I happen to disagree, at least insofar as the “freedom agenda” relies on the U.S. military as its agent. Regardless of where one comes out on the policy, though, we all ought to agree on at least one thing: The Constitution must control the implementation of whatever policy wins the day. Yet it has become necessary to ask whether even this principle, so fundamental to a free, self-determining people, is still unanimously honored.
I’ve felt that going to war and utilizing the military in combat against another nation should involve congressional approval. This is the constitutional way of doing things, and it should be followed. Granted, we’ve had military engagements in numerous nations, dating back to the Korean War, without a formal declaration of war or even an approval by Congress to fund military actions.
The reason why this is split in the GOP over Libya is a good thing is because it shows a stronger “constitutionalist” line of thinking among conservatives. I’m in favor of a strong military that will protect America from any attacking force. I’m just in favor of also using that military for it’s actual purpose.
McCarthy continues, after noting the Security Council’s vote on Libya and the fact that militarily, we’ll end up doing a lot of the “heavy lifting”…
There is a catch: The Security Council is powerless to “authorize” the U.S. military to do a damned thing. The validity of American combat operations is a matter of American law, and that means Congress must authorize them.
Our Constitution vests Congress with the power to declare war. That authority cannot be delegated to an international tribunal that lacks political accountability to the American people. The decision to go to war is the most significant one a body politic can make. Thus the Framers designed our system to make certain that the responsible officials are answerable to the people whose lives are at stake and who are expected to foot the bills.
Contrary to the insistence of many on the right and the left, this has never meant that military operations may not be launched in the absence of a declaration of war. Indeed, although the United States has engaged in many wars and lesser conflicts, war has been formally declared only five times. Still, the circumstances for departing from this formality are narrowly defined
Even using recent events as a barometer, the reason for going into Libya fails to match up to recent military engagements. We had a reason to go into Afghanistan (al Qaeda attacked us, they were supported by the sitting Taliban government, so our attack was in retaliation and defense of an attack on us). At least with Iraq, there was some semblance of reasoning as to why we were there (possible ties with al Qaeda, an enemy of the U.S.).
Even using the traditional neoconservative and “global community” progressive viewpoints, the Libya intervention doesn’t hold up. In 2003, Iraq was ignoring/blatantly thumbing it’s nose at numerous U.N. resolutions, yet people (including then-Illinois State Senator Obama) said we had no business there. After Gaddafi violates one single resolution, Obama is ready to help the Brits and the French take action against Libya. By the way, do you see the President’s hypocrisy here?
Nonetheless, we have no reasons why we should send our military into Libya. There is no threat to America or her allies posed by Libya’s internal strife at this point (you could at least have made a case for Iraq back in 2003, based on the information we knew). So while many people will disagree with me (on the left and the right), I stand firm on my position here. While I wish nothing but freedom and the institution of a sound republic in Libya, I personally do not agree with our military intervention in Libya, even if it is just the enforcement of a “no-fly zone”.