by Javier ManjarresPresident Obama’s apparent violation of the War Powers Act of 1973 has all but split the U.S.Congress, as the administration has not only failed to obtain congressional approval for continued military action subsequent to the passage of the War Powers Act’s 90 day deadline, it has also failed to identify what exactly our genuine national interests are as justification for intervening in this conflict.
Bipartisan opposition has emerged from the House of Representatives against President Obama’s continued military action, but the U.S. Senate seems to be leaning the opposite direction- at least three Republican Senators have expressed their concerns about the possibility of genocide committed by Muammar Gaddafi if the United States failed to extend its current military campaign in Libya.
Strangely enough, Tea Party conservative Florida Senator Marco Rubio has teamed up with the ‘moderate maverick’ Senator John McCain and one-time Democrat and now Independent Senator Joe Lieberman to express their support for the President continued military action. Lieberman and Rubio collaborated on a Wall Street Journal op-ed and wrote the following in support of giving Obama leeway to continue military efforts in Libya:
The Senators are correct in pointing out that if the U.S. were to pull out of Libya, the NATO coalition would crumble as NATO is little more than our ability to project military power. These same Senators also offered up some very questionable assertions that could be considered as fear-mongering, stating that if Gadhafi were not dealt with, he would seek revenge via terrorism, subsequently cleanse Libya of ‘traitors’, thus causing a ripple effect across the Middle East that would stifle Pro-Democracy movements in Iran and Syria- quite a list of “what if’s” that are with a host of questionable underlying assumptions. While there is truth to all of this, and the consensus is that Gadhafi needs to be ‘neutralized’, but the fact still remains that the President needs to get Congressional approval first. Both Lieberman and Rubio question the involvement of U.S. military personnel in Libya, but still support Obama’s continued military actions.
If the U.S. were to withdraw from operations against the regime in Tripoli, the coalition would quickly unravel. Gadhafi would emerge triumphant, even more dangerous and determined to seek his revenge through terrorism against the countries in NATO and the Arab League that tried and failed to overthrow him. U.S. withdrawal would also mean a bloodbath inside Libya, as Gadhafi unleashes unspeakable horrors against the Libyan people who sought their freedom. And it would have ripple effects across the Middle East: Pro-democracy movements from Iran to Syria would conclude that the U.S. had abandoned them, and dictators would be emboldened.-Senators Rubio and Lieberman(POLITICO)
So while the sense of urgency about the situation in Libya coming from the ‘Three Amigos’ (Rubio,McCain, Lieberman) is commendable and should be applauded, the senators need to realize that there is a certain protocol that needs to be adhered to. The U.S. is still a nation of laws that need to be respected and abided by, as Senator Rubio has said many times over during his Senatorial campaign in 2010.
McCain and Lieberman know all too well how the political process works, but the newbie Senator Rubio could simply be just ‘making nice’ with the elder statesmen in order to show that he belongs in the same locker room as them. One could also make the case that this is just another political maneuver by Rubio to show that he is willing to work with moderate Republicans and Democrats to further his national profile.
The constitutionality of the War Powers Act itself has always been a questionable proposition, but there has to be some agreement within the Congress that it either has the force of law or it doesn’t, otherwise it is only a pretext for debate rather than a controlling legal authority. If our lawmakers decide that we are going to exert force against another country and put our servicemen and women in harm’s way, we had very well better have a compelling reason to do so- that not-so-small detail has been noticeably absent from this “kinetic military action” from the get-go. Mission creep, here we come.