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Obama’s War in Libya is Illegal and Unconstitutional

March 28, 2011


On CNN’s “Reliable Sources” show last Sunday, host Howard Kurtz asked, “One major question about the assault on Libya, what happened to the media’s skepticism?” He’s right, but his comparison to the war in Iraq was wrong. The correct parallel is President Bill Clinton’s illegal and unconstitutional military intervention in the civil war in Kosovo, then a province of Serbia. Serbia, like Libya today, did not present a threat to the U.S., but in both cases Democratic presidents went to war with those nations anyway, in order to strengthen international organizations.

What the media are missing is the fact that Obama’s war on Libya has no basis in law or the U.S. Constitution. He has decided to wage this war on his own with the authorization of the United Nations, not the U.S. Congress.

The conservative Washington Times has it right. In an editorial headlined, “Obama’s illegal war. Congress, not the U.N., should authorize force against Libya,” the paper said, “Removing Moammar Gadhafi from power would probably advance the cause of freedom, but the United Nations has no legal authority to take a step of this magnitude. By bowing to the will of the U.N. Security Council, President Obama is diluting the sovereign power of the United States.”

It’s true that President Reagan attacked Libya in 1986. But that was retaliation in self-defense, which is always reserved for the Commander-in-Chief, after evidence showed that the Gadhafi regime had attacked and killed Americans in Germany through a terrorist bombing.

“Today,” Obama said on March 19, “I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians. That action has now begun. In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition that is committed to enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for the protection of the Libyan people.”

Obama said, “I’ve acted after consulting with my national security team, and Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress. And in the coming hours and days, my administration will keep the American people fully informed. But make no mistake: Today we are part of a broad coalition. We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world.”

The President has no such “authorization” from Congress and consultation with Congress is not sufficient under the Constitution.

This announcement followed a February 25 executive order declaring Libya “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” which is ludicrous on its face. Obama then declared “a national emergency to deal with that threat.”

All of this happened without any critical comment from the media. Indeed, the media called for Obama and the “international community” to do something.

Even a prominent media watchdog like Howard Kurtz, while criticizing the media for not asking the right questions, asks the wrong questions and comes to the wrong conclusions.

On CNN, Howard Kurtz said, “U.S. warplanes hitting targets in Libya for a second day today. And I have to say this at the outset—the media get excited by war, the journalistic adrenaline starts pumping as we talk about warships and warplanes and cruise missiles, and we put up the maps and we have the retired generals on. And sometimes something is lost in that initial excitement.”

But then he went on a tangent: “It reminds me of eight years ago this very weekend, when Shock and Awe was rained down upon Baghdad and the media utterly failed to ask skeptical questions.”

The difference is that Congress authorized the invasion of Iraq after a debate. Congress has not authorized the war on Libya.

Strangely, House Speaker John Boehner does not seem to recognize how his constitutional authority and the sovereignty of the United States are being undermined.

In a statement, he said, “The United States has a moral obligation to stand with those who seek freedom from oppression and self-government for their people. It’s unacceptable and outrageous for Gadhafi to attack his own people, and the violence must stop. The President is the commander-in-chief, but the Administration has a responsibility to define for the American people, the Congress, and our troops what the mission in Libya is, better explain what America’s role is in achieving that mission, and make clear how it will be accomplished. Before any further military commitments are made, the Administration must do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission in Libya and how it will be achieved.”

To repeat: simply being the commander-in-Chief does not allow the President to wage an offensive war on a country that does not threaten the United States.

We at AIM were similarly critical of the media for failing to raise these issues when Clinton went to war in Kosovo. That case was even worse than Libya because the U.N. did not authorize the military intervention there. Clinton used NATO rather than the U.N. But NATO, which came into being through a treaty as a defensive military force, had been illegally transformed without the benefit of a treaty into an offensive military force.

To make matters worse, Clinton intervened on behalf of the Muslim terrorists in the Kosovo Liberation Army against the Christian Serbs. The result was creation of a Muslim state, Kosovo, in the heart of Europe.

Obama’s agenda in Libya is the enforcement of the U.N.’s so-called “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, whereby nations work through the U.N. to intervene in the internal affairs of member states. The “Responsibility to Protect” was mostly the work of the World Federalist Movement, a group dedicated to world government by strengthening the United Nations system.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 on Libya calls for a no-fly zone and reiterates a “Responsibility to Protect” through explicit language on the “protection of civilians” against the regime.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the resolution “historic,” which is correct, and noted that it “affirms, clearly and unequivocally, the international community’s determination to fulfill its responsibility to protect civilians from violence perpetrated upon them by their own government.”

It sounds like a New World Order.

Copyright ©2011 Cliff Kincaid

Cliff Kincaid is the director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism. To learn more about Cliff, please click the link. http://www.aim.org/expert-bio/cliff-kincaid/

 


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