President Obama recently authorized airstrikes and tomahawk cruise missile attacks on the country of Libya. This was in response to Muammar Qadhafi’s brutal attacks on his own people, trying to squash rebel forces in Benghazi. These airstrikes are very appropriate given the situation in Libya, however the lack of candor on the part of President Obama is not.
The president should have consulted Congress before he authorized such an attack, as well as informed the American people of his intentions. As a free society, the United states people are very likely to back the president in an historical moment such as this. Not since 1969 has the nation of Libya experienced new leadership and even longer since they have tasted freedom. Unfortunat,ely we are not clear as to the true intentions of these attacks. On the one hand we are told by the White House that our goal is to install a democracy, yet on the other, we are told that our involvement with this “kinetic military action” is only temporary.
I do not agree with Rep. Dennis Kucinich that President Obama’s use of the military in this moment is unconstitutional or warrants impeachment. A president is not required to consult with the American people or with the congress before engaging in a military operation, even if it is in poor judgment to do so. However, he cannot commit our military to a conflict for more than 90 days without congressional approval, per the War Powers Act. This act allows the president to use the military as a temporary means to bring peace to a violent region, but not to commit our boys to a long-term conflict on the ground. Congress still maintains its right as the sole body that can declare war on another nation.
The White House’s claim that we are not in a war, though technically true, is not entirely accurate. Libya is current in a civil war, which is when two factions are fighting for control of a country. We are involved in a war, we just have not declared war. At this point our involvement with Libya more closely relates to the Vietnam conflict than either Iraq or Afghanistan.
I, for one, am for the removal of Qadhafi as he has lost legitimacy to rule his country. However I am not for our full military involvement in his ousting. We need to support the rebels with airstrikes, while providing other support, such as munitions and food to their troops. The president needs to state clearly what his intentions are in our involvement with Libya, without concern for future votes. The job of the president is not to do what is right to win votes, but to do what is right even if that means votes are lost.
The president has not come close to fulfilling any of his campaign promises, change has not come. If anything, he has followed George W. Bush’s mantra of ‘Stay the Course.’ President Obama could improve the image of his presidency in the eyes of all Americans if he would be honest, upfront, and consistent with his policy.