Is this the same president the American people elected 3 years ago?

During the election of 2008, he sat down with the Boston Globe staff for a little question and answer:

Globe:  In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress?

Obama: The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

Note that the use of the word “unilateral” in his statement, used in context of the question, refers to the president acting unilaterally as in without congressional approval, not unilateral as in American forces only.  He was correct in his statement.  He goes on to say:

Obama: As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent.

He is again correct, referring to the War Powers Resolution of 1973(coincidently the same resolution number as the current UN resolution), which allows the president to send U.S. armed forces into action abroad only by authorization of Congress or if the United States is already under attack or serious threat.  This is not applicable to the current war against Libya, as we were never under attack or serious threat.  He goes on to make the following observation:

Obama: History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

Yep, undeclared wars haven’t gone very well for us in the past.  He even goes on to brag about some of his recently introduced legislation:

Obama: I recently introduced S.J. Res. 23, which states in part that “any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress.”

Sounds a lot like Ron Paul’s recent proposed legislation: H. Con. Res. 31: Expressing the sense of Congress that the President is required to obtain in advance specific statutory authorization for the use of United States Armed Forces in response to civil unrest in Libya. Obama was refering to Iran, but one would think that his principles would also apply to Libya.

I must admit, as far as foreign policy goes, I liked 2007 Obama, but who is this Obama we now have?  He has ignored the constitution and his own principles.  He cannot plead ignorance, he knew the right answers 3 years ago, when it was Bush ignoring the constitution.

But it is Ok, because the UN says it is, right?  Wrong.

Article 2 Section 7 of the UN charter expressly forbids the “United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state”.  The UN reaffirmed this stance in 1981 with the Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention and Interference in the Internal Affairs of the State, which says:

Reaffirming, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, that no State has the right to intervent directly or indirectly for any reason whatsoever in the internal or external affairs of any other State, Reaffirming further the fundamental principle of the Charter of the United Nations that all States have the duty not to threaten or use force against the sovereignty, political independence or territorial integrity of other States.

It could be argued that this action is interfering with the internal affairs of Libya, but I will explore a different way this is being violated.

Since the UN cannot interfere with the internal affairs of any state, I believe the resolution cannot be used as justification for Obama to use troops without congressional authorization.  If a resolution was to cause us to bypass our preexisting constitution, it would be interfering with our internal affairs.  Our Constitution is not second to the UN charter and should not be treated as such.  Authorization for placing our troops in harms way cannot be done by the UN, it must come from congress, who represent the will of the American people, as well as the wellbeing of the troops and their families.


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1 comment
  1. Yep, this action is wrong in so many ways. First, we shouldn’t be there (If Europeans & the Arab League want it, they should step up.), as it’s not our interest. Second, it’s pure regime change, not about democracy. Nor is it about human rights or human suffering. After all, we’re not going into Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, N. Korea, The Union of Myanmar or Somalia, any of which classify as worse antidemocratic governments or places of worse systemic abuse. And finally, there is some issue about the nature of the role of Congress in military missions (FWIW: I’m not sure how bombing sites in Pakistan was ever authorized).

    However, it’s not as if informing Congress actually means anything from a *practical* standpoint anymore. Congress critters don’t want a say in the matter of Libya: They want deniability. Most would rather keep keep mute than stick their necks out in any way that could hurt their re-election.

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