Congressional opposition to President Obama’s unilateral decision to launch an undeclared war with Libya is coming from across the partisan and ideological spectrum.
The opposition takes many forms, but at its core is a recognition, by Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, progressives and libertarians, senior members and freshmen, that presidents are required to seek a Congressional declaration of war—as outlined in the Constitution—before sending US military forces to attack another country.
What is striking about the statements coming from House and Senate members is the consistency of that constitutional commitment.
Here’s what Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, the Maryland Republican who serves as chairman of the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces of the House Armed Services Committee, says: “The United States does not have a King’s army. President Obama’s unilateral choice to use U.S. military force in Libya is an affront to our Constitution. President Obama’s administration has repeated the mistakes of the Clinton administration concerning bombing in Kosovo and the George W. Bush administration concerning invading Iraq by failing to request and obtain from the U.S. Congress unambiguous prior authorization to use military force against a country that has not attacked U.S. territory, the U.S. military or U.S. citizens. This is particularly ironic considering then-Senator Obama campaigned for the Democratic nomination based upon his opposition to President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.”
“Muammar Qaddafi is a tyrant despised throughout the Middle East and North Africa. His brutal and merciless attacks against his own citizens are horrific,” adds Bartlett. “It is self-evident that the tragic situation in Libya is not an emergency since the Obama administration sought and obtained support from both the Arab League and the United Nations Security Council to authorize military force against Qaddafi. The Obama administration also had time to organize a 22-nation coalition to implement a no-fly zone with military attacks led by U.S. Armed Forces against Qadhafi’s forces. Nonetheless, the Obama administration failed to seek approval from the American people and their elected legislators in the Congress. Failing to obtain authorization from the U.S. Congress means that President Obama has taken sole responsibility for the outcome of using U.S. military forces against Qadhafi onto his shoulders and his administration.”
Congressman Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat who has been a consistent critic of undeclared wars, says: “The Obama administration’s decision to attack Libya was made without any Congressional approval. It’s outside the Constitution of the United States. Whether you like President Obama or not is not the question. The question is if you like the Constitution more. And the Constitution places very firmly in the hands of Congress the decision as to whether or not to commit the men and women of our armed services to a conflict, or the physical assets of the United States of America into a conflict. “