Tuesday, March 22, 2011

War Powers

How can all the Obama-haters who called him a ditherer for not intervening in Libya now turn around and complain that such action is illegal? The Republicans, including the once-but-no-longer-honorable Richard Lugar, suddenly wonder where Congress’ constitutional power to declare war went.

It went out of business due to lack of use since the U.S. declaration of war against Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria nearly 70 years ago and a subsequent 23 undeclared military interventions. Overnight, Lugar has metamorphosed from a sage foreign policy expert into a teabag ninny pooping in his pants from primary competition from the Clown Right.

And what of Democrats, whose anti-Vietnam histrionics in the 1970s led to passage of the War Powers Act, which had as its chief unforeseen consequence giving any president much more power than he already had. The Act allows him, as commander in chief, to inform Congress and then do anything he wants militarily for 60 days before having to ask for further approval. That he did not officially inform Congress of the Libyan intervention is irrelevant, given the instantaneous nature of political reporting. Only Michelle Bachmann could not have understood what this country’s policy was going to be.

Then there are the middle-of-the-road whiners who ask the silly question, “If we are going to use military force for humanitarian reasons, why not use it against every repressive dictators?” Put aside the fact that other sons of bitches are our sons of bitches, Libya is easy to get to and easy to get out of it. Is something we can do, whether or not we should.

It is an operation I think shows Obama at his best. Remember Bush 43 -- say anything, go anywhere, take up arms in a manner guaranteed to cause defeat? As he did in his successful primary and general election campaigns, Obama ignored the hand-wringers who demanded he push some magic button to get tough, quietly put together political alliances, treated the public like adults and won the day.

IF the United States has an interest in supporting democratic movements in the Middle East – and I don’t know that it does – then it has to do so in a way that shows we are acting in concert with other democracies and that does not inflame the people we are supposed to be helping.

I now get to turn the age-old question around and put it to the Lugars, Pauls, Webbs, Sanderses and the rest of the Senate Sandbox – whose side are you really on?

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