kinetic military action

House members seek congressional authorization for Syria intervention

UPDATE: Rigell’s office now reports that 140 House members have signed the letter. An update copy of it can be found below. The story has been updated to reflect the current number of signatories.

Scores of members of the House of Representatives are urging President Barack Obama to seek congressional authorization for any military action that his administration plans to take in Syria.

The White House has said that President Obama will consult leaders in Congress about the planned air strikes against Bashar Assad’s regime, which is the administration’s response to the alleged use of chemical weapons against his own citizens. But that’s not enough for House members who note that a president is legally required to seek authorization from Congress before using force overseas.

“We strongly urge you to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria. Your responsibility to do so is prescribed in the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973,” wrote Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA), who has circulated the letter to his colleagues in the House, gathering 140 signatories from members of both parties.

Rigell noted that the Founders gave the executive branch the power to take action during emergencies, but he pointed out that Syria doesn’t represent a direct threat to the security of the United States.

Cut Europe

With all this talk of isolationism in the GOP, namely over our “kinetic military action” in Libya and the wearying, ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there’s an atmosphere that Republicans will be more willing to cut defense spending and reorganize our military to better fit in with the rest of the world. No more Dubya’s and silly foreign expeditions, more or less. But there’s one area that I see missing: Europe. I think it should be front and center.

When we Americans start arguing over welfare spending, it almost inevitably comes to be that those on the “left” say “Well, we’re spending billions and billions of dollars on bombing people in foreign countries, maybe we should cut that first, huh?” Naturally, conservatives balk at cutting military spending (while libertarians agree and then continue arguing to cut welfare anyways), but in terms of Europe, this is an area where they can make a great tactical manuever. I say this because, also almost inevitably, some liberal or progressive will then cite Europe as a great example of their welfare state ideal, saying “See, they can do it! Why can’t we, with the #1 economy in the world, do the same?” This was almost always brought up in the healthcare debate, focusing on the United Kingdom’s NHS, Germany’s social insurance policies, and infant mortality. And what else can conservatives and libertarians say? Europe sucks? Only in some limited aspects, and that’s simply not a respectable argument anyway.

Obama’s interpretation of War Power Resolution is dangerous

In a new video from the Cato Institute, John Samples and Gene Healy explain how President Barack Obama’s war in Libya, which is being conducted without the consent of Congress, expands the War Powers Resolution (WPR) far beyond what it was intended. If allowed to stand, this new interpretation of WPR a president can now bomb a country whenever he wants, a precedent that could have negative consequences for the United States:

House declines to authorize intervention in Libya

On Friday, the House of Representatives declined to authorize President Barack Obama’s illegal intervention in Libya by a 123 to 295 vote:

Members of Congress sent an embarrassing message to President Obama by voting to reject a formal authorization of the use of force in Libya.

The House on Friday voted down a resolution similar to one recently passed in the Senate expressing support for the U.S. mission by a vote of 123 to 295.

The Associated Press reported that the vote is the first time since 1999 that Congress has voted against the president’s authority to conduct a military operation.

“The president has not made the case for committing our military to the conflict in Libya,” said Ohio Rep. Mike Turner, a Republican. “The president claims these military actions do not constitute hostilities. However, the American people know otherwise.”

The rejection is an embarrassment for Obama, who has been accused by opponents of the mission of violating the 1973 War Powers Resolution by not getting congressional approval before entering the conflict.

The House also voted down a measure that would have partially defunded the operations. However, some have noted that the resolution would have actually authorized the Libya intervention. Even Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), certainly no supporter of our tendencies to play policeman to the world, spoke out against the resolution:

Obama to announce withdrawal of some troops from Afghanistan

Just as he is currently arguing that he can engage in war “kinetic military action” without approval from Congress, President Barack Obama will announce a phased withdrawal of the 30,000 troops he sent to Afghanistan last year:

President Barack Obama is expected to announce the approval of a plan that would result in the 30,000 U.S. “surge” forces being withdrawn completely from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, an administration official said.

An estimated 100,000 U.S. troops are serving in Afghanistan, and about 30,000 of them were part of the 2009 surge, aimed at snuffing rising violence in the country.

Obama had previously said those troops would begin coming home in July and indicated the number would be “significant.”

Keep in mind that there will still be an American presence in Afghanistan even after this withdrawal of 30,000 troops. As far as the timeline of withdrawl, The Los Angeles Times notes that we can expect “about 5,000 troops [to come home] next month and another 5,000 by the end of the year” with the remaining 15,000 coming home “by the end of 2012 or early 2013, depending on the status of the fight.”

Glenn Greenwald dismisses the plan:

Should risk be a factor for War Powers Act?

President Obama is coming dangerously close to the deadline for withdrawal of all US troops from the Libyan theater of operations in accordance with the War Powers Act.  However, the White House denies that the War Powers Act applies since American troops aren’t exposed to significant risk because Libyan forces aren’t able to return fire in a “meaningful way”.  However, does risk to American troops matter in regard to whether the president can engage in warfare?

The Constitution gives authority for waging war in all ways except on how to fight a war to Congress.  The president is Commander in Chief and is ultimately responsible for how a war is fought because leadership by committee is fine for crafting laws, but suicide in combat.  Under President Nixon, the War Powers Act was created as a mechanism for dealing with that president’s use of the military.

Even as recently as the Gulf War, warfare automatically meant troops would be in harms way.  Today, that’s a very different case.  In the case of Libya, the White House argues that the US role is primarily support and that American lives aren’t at risk.  Maybe that makes a difference to some folks, but not so much to me.  I’m not alone either.  Jack Goldsmith, who worked for President Bush in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, told the New York Times:

“The administration’s theory implies that the president can wage war with drones and all manner of offshore missiles without having to bother with the War Powers Resolution’s time limits,” Mr. Goldsmith said.

Obama violating the law by keeping us involved in Libya

We’re supposedly a nation of laws.  For better or worse, every person is supposed to follow the law.  To. The. Letter.  However, it appears that President Obama has violated the law, and not just any law.  No, he has fully violated the War Powers Act with his “kinetic military action” in Libya.

On Friday, CNN ran a story asking if Obama was about to break the law.  Indeed, it certainly looked like it might.  After all, the War Powers Act requires a president to get approval for Congress within 60 days after launching military actions against another country.  The only other time in history when we can this close was in Kosovo.  That time, President Clinton argued that Congress actually had authorized action when they authorized funding for the action.  I see his point.

President Obama, on the other hand, has no such excuse.  Libya isn’t being paid for by special funding that Congress approved just for the occasion.

Other Presidents?  Most other Presidents may start it, but they get Congressional approval within that 60 days.  President Bush did it with both Afghanistan and Iraq after all, and he was the power mad tyrant bent on ruling the world or something like that.  Most other presidents will launch an operation, and they either end it within 60 days, or they get the approval.

Obviously the question will be asked if this is partisan.  It’s not.  One of the people asking the questions about Obama in Congress?

Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California, tells CNN he believes Obama is trying to “bring democracy to Libya while shredding the Constitution of the United States.”

Obama leading us down dangerous path

In his speech yesterday, President Obama made the case that intervention in Libya was necessary as a humanitarian effort.  The idea is appealing to many who have wanted the United States to intervene in various nation’s troubles for similar reasons.  However, Obama’s argument could lead us down a very dangerous path that we are unprepared to deal with.

There are a pile of dictators at work in this world.  Dictators have this annoying habit of violating human rights.  However, despite fighting two wars and a “kinetic military action”, there are other places that have humanitarian mission in the waiting.  Despite our budget crisis, this argument could well lead us down a path to fighting a dozen wars or more.

A similar rationale was given prior to invading Iraq, and my argument then was that if we are going to fight every dictator in the world, so be it, but do we really have it in us?

The truth is that we, as a nation, need to honestly decide if we want intervention or not.  If we are going to do this, then it will entail a mobilization effort that will make World War II’s look like an aluminum can drive.  We will essentially become a nation who’s industrial might will be geared towards only one thing: killing people who live in other countries.  Go us.

However, the truth is that President Obama is making a case that will only be used in specific instances.  It’ll be used to justify intervention in Libya, but not in Iran or Syria?  It’ll be used to justify this war, but not that one?  It’s a logical inconsistency that’s hardly unusual in American politics, and that’s probably a good thing.

After all, intervening in every “kinetic military action” isn’t exactly the way I expect a Nobel Peace Prize winner to act.

Cato: Five rules for going to war

While the Left sits quietly and even, at times, hypocritically attempts to justify President Barack Obama’s war in Libya - which, by the way, has cost taxpayers $600 million, our friends at the Cato Institute have put out a new video featuring Christopher Preble, director of foreign policy studies, which serves as a sort of response to the President’s speech from Monday evening noteing that the Weinberger Doctrine - the principles used to justify war - is now dead:

When did Barack Obama become John Yoo?

President Barack Obama made his case for his unauthorized intervention “kinetic military action” in Libya last night, which may or may not be helping al-Qaeda. And while many Democrats don’t want to admit it, he sounds much more like John Yoo, who served as George W. Bush’s Justice Department and authored memos that gave the administration its legal rationale for use of tortue, than like the man that ran as the anti-war candidate in 2008:

Mr. Obama’s exercise of war powers in Libya is firmly in the tradition of American foreign policy. Throughout our history, neither presidents nor Congress have acted under the belief that the Constitution requires a declaration of war before the U.S. can conduct military hostilities abroad. We have used force abroad more than 100 times but declared war in only five cases: the War of 1812, the Mexican-American and Spanish-American Wars, and World Wars I and II.

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