The situation in Mali is becoming increasingly tense. Our own Travis Thornton recently touched on what’s going on in the Saharan nation, noting that the problem there “comes as a consequence of NATO’s 2011 Libyan intervention, in which the United States involved itself without congressional approval.
The country’s interim president, Dioncounda Traore, has ruled out any discussions with Islamic militants, putting the prospect of a peaceful ending to the violence out of reach. And while French military forces have been able to handle the situation to this point, there is a chance that the United States may intervene.
Earlier this week, Ron Paul, who recently retired from Congress and twice ran for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, explained that the United States is involved in yet another military action without the consent of Congress:
President Obama last week began his second term by promising that “a decade of war is now ending.” As he spoke, the US military was rapidly working its way into another war, this time in the impoverished African country of Mali. As far as we know, the US is only providing transport and intelligence assistance to France, which initiated the intervention then immediately called Washington for back-up and funding. However, even if US involvement is limited and, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, US boots on the ground are not being considered “at this time,” this clearly is developing into another war. As usual, the mission is creeping.
Within the first week of French military action in Mali, the promise that it would be a quick operation to put down an Islamic rebel advance toward the capitol was broken. France announced that it would be forced to send in thousands of troops and would need to remain far longer than the few weeks it initially claimed would be necessary.
There is a reason why the framers of our Constitution placed the authority to declare war strictly with the legislative branch of government. They knew well that kings were all too willing to go to war without the consent of those who would do the killing and dying − and funding. By placing that authority in Congress, the people’s branch of government, they intended to blunt the executive branch’s enthusiasm toward overseas adventurism. The consequences of this steady erosion of our system toward the unitary executive are dire.
There are certainly those who believe that military involvement never brings blowback, as Paul calls it, but as we’re seeing in Mali, our interventionism in overseas affairs is bringing us headaches. And those headaches are not just limited to sending troops in harm’s way or the cost that will be born on taxpayers, but also continued marginalization of our Constitution, which leaves the responsibility to Congress to decide when the United States goes to war.