Our Founding Fathers carefully drafted the Constitution and defined that the power to declare war properly falls in the hands of Congress. This was no accident. The creators of this country understood that such a power cannot and should not rest on the shoulders of one single man. They understood that the power to wage war is a serious one and that for the safety of the American people the power to declare war must carefully depend on the discretion of many, not on the whims of one. Some argue that the president is the head of the military and therefore should have the authority to declare war as he sees fit. This argument is not only absurd but unconstitutional. Our nation is founded on the safety of separation of powers. Giving blind authority to one man means abandoning the principles of representative government.
Several presidents have ignored the constitutional provision and have initiated military force without consent from Congress. After America endured the war in Vietman, the longest military engagment ever suffered by the American people, without so much as a declaration of war, it became clear that American presidents must be limited from blatantly ignoring constitutional provisions. The War Powers Act of 1973 specified that a president could not send military forces into action for longer than 60 days without congressional approval. The requirements were clear. The president can only initiate military actions if Congress has declared war, if Congress has approved use of military force or if there is imminent danger.
President Obama has broken the law. None of the conditions necessary to authorize military action in Libya was present when Obama initiated use of force on March 19, 2011. To the contrary the president acted with blatant entitlement and wrote a letter after the fact, on March 21, 2011. In it, he simply notified Congress of his actions instead of seeking authorization ahead of time. As the 60 day deadline drew near, and frustrated by his violations, six senators wrote to him last Wednesday, stating,
“As recently as last week your administration indicated use of the U.S. armed forces will continue indefinitely. Therefore, we are writing to ask whether you intend to comply with the requirements of the War Powers Resolution. We await your response.”
The president did not comply with the provisions of the law. It has been said that the president is of the opinion that the War Powers Resolution does not apply here because the United States turned over leadership of the war to NATO on April 1st, 2011. However, that is just a sad excuse for a loophole since the Supreme Allied Commander of Nato is an American admiral. In other words, the United States is NATO. Said organization would not exist without the United States supporting it and leading it.
The military attacks continue in Libya. The appropriation of funds for military action continue without the approval of the people and we sit at home doing nothing about a president that blatantly picks and chooses which laws he intends to follow and which he does not. This is a dangerous precedent! By sitting on our hands, we are allowing the establishment of a system that would enable a single man to take a country to war, even enter into WW III without any checks and balances, and no one is batting an eye!
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