President Obama’s decision to declare war on Libya is unconstitutional, and also foolish

President Obama’s decision to declare war against Libya is as unconstitutional as it is strategically stupid.  It might also very well be immoral from the Augustinian and Thomistic traditions of just war.

And, let me be blunt, the Obama administration has been a near total disaster from its opening moments–from its desire to nationalize the health care system to its absurd “cash for clunkers” to its numerous foreign policy blunders (let’s not forget the WikiLeak revelation that Hilary Clinton was having American ambassadors search through the wallets and credit cards of foreign diplomats) and to its intensifying of the power and invasiveness of the Transportation Security Admnistration.

In nearly every way, Americans are less secure and less free than they were before January, 2009.  And, this, of course, on top of the incredible erosion of rights and freedoms during President Bush’s two terms.

Now, I will be even more blunt–after yesterday’s invasion, we can call the sitting president either a liar or a fraud.  Take your pick and proclaim it loudly.  President Obama, which is it, are you a liar or merely a fraud?

Even if we decide to give him the benefit of the doubt and claim him merely a fraud, President Obama should be remembered as our generation’s Nixon, power hungry and abusive.

Correctly and constitutionally, Senator Obama had chided President Bush for his use of military power, claiming the executive branch did not to have the right to intervene and declare war without the consent of Congress.  In this, and perhaps only in this, Obama proved to have some backbone and a brain.

Yesterday’s decision shows he has neither.

In every way, after yesterday’s unilateral decision to attack Libya in league an “entangling alliance” of foreign powers, President Obama has abused his position as the chief executive officer of these United States of America.  The Constitution states quite clearly that Congress and Congress alone has the power to declare war.

Needless to write, how Congress responds to this gross abuse of power will prove fascinating.  The American people can be represented only in the House of Representatives and the Senate, according to our Constitution.  As citizens, we have absolutely NO direct say as to who will govern us in the White House or from the Supreme Court.

For this reason, and this reason alone, the Founding Fathers gave the sovereign legislature the power to declare war in Article I, Section 8.

The president of the United States is “commander in chief” of armed forces, but not without restrictions.  As the Constitution states in Article II: “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.”

Again, how Congress responds to President Obama’s arrogance will be nothing short of fascinating.  This past November, the American people clearly and loudly elected a new Congress, presuming it would reclaim power that had been handed over to the other branches of government as well as restrain the seemingly endless growth of the powers and reach of the federal government as a whole.

If those elected last fall possess even an ounce of honor, they will begin to investigate and possibly (that is, the members of the House) impeach the sitting president.  He has grossly abused his power, and Congress must respond in kind, and it must do so immediately and without mercy.  Should Congress continue to abdicate its constitutional duties, it will have proven itself impotent and unworthy of representing the American people.

None of this blog is to suggest that somehow war in and against parts of Libya is right or ill.  It could be either, frankly, from a Catholic policy of just war.  But, the policy of war is always and everywhere fraught with many, many dangers.  We will be making alliances from expediency, not right.  We will be sending Americans out to deal with the ever-nastiness of a civil war and asking our men and women to shed blood.  And, of course, we will be directly responsible for killing civilians in North Africa, what military strategists euphemistically call “collateral damage.”

The Founding Fathers did not give power to declare war to Congress lightly.  War affects all, and the decision must be made after serious deliberations and only with the consent of the people through a sovereign legislature.

That the president would presume such a power–especially after this current president’s previous statements against Bush and his general pacific tone–is nothing short of offensive.

It’s worth repeating that President Obama is either a liar or a fraud.  Either way, Congress has the republican duty to reclaim its rightful authority and restrain the idiocy and arrogance ruling illegally and unconstitutionally from the White House.


Tom Crowe has offered a fine assessment of the situation in Libya on this blogsite with his post yesterday. The best neutral analysis of the situation is George Friedman’s blog yesterday at Stratfor.  Dan McCarthy, editor of the American Conservative has kept the updates coming as well.  Each of these men is to be commended for their fine work.



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  • Rose S

    President Obama did not declare war on Libya, and his actions were not unilateral. I will add that President Reagan bombed Libya in a unilateral fashion and killed Khadafi’s 3 year old son. Clinton also established a no-fly zone over Serbia/Bosnia. His actions are not without precedent. I feel your accusations that Obama is lying or a fraud have no merit.

  • mike

    At the risk of repeating something. Who made us the police men of earth. The Republic has been taken over and its time for us to take it back ,this government is totally out of control I think that more people are listening and watching so maybe we cane stop the commies from totally wrecking the hard work of the founders.they did say they would take it from inside did they not.

  • pastor miller

    you all need to quit. This man is undre fire by you haters no matter what he does. God is not pleased with how you all bash this president. He is no worst than the rest of the presidents we have had in office. You all need to stop tearing him down and start praying for the prsident and his family.

  • Winston Elliott III

    Dr. Birzer’s analysis of the situation is perfectly correct. The intent of the founders was to require that the Congress declare war so as to prevent the President from taking the American Republic’s military into battle solely on his own authority. The fact that several presidents have abused their power and most congresses have abdicated their responsibility does not change this fundamental aspect of our Constitution. As Dr. Birzer makes clear, President Obama knew this when President Bush was in office but seems to have conveniently lost his Constitutional memory since moving into the Oval Office.

    We do not belong in Libya. And for those who believe we do there is no prudent limit to our intervention in the affairs of other nations, only expediency.

    It appears that many readers desire that all nations have governments which, relying on democratic processes, support a western notion of basic human rights. Assuming the U.S. can achieve this desired goal, a questionable assumption at best, we should not believe that having the opportunity to vote will bring about the level of human rights they seek.

    If they are free to vote for a government which oppresses religious minorities, is that an improvement (Hamas, Nazis)? Are we then to interfere with the policies of the newly elected government which carries out the desires of the electorate? Is elected government the desired end state or is it accepted western concepts of freedom? Should we decide this for every nation?

    If, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, we use our nation’s military might to reconstruct the governments of nations which do not meet our standards of democracy and civil rights, where does it end? What about China? North Korea? Somalia? Venezuela? What if the newly elected regimes demonstrate a high level of corruption? Is there no limit to our responsibility to remake the world into democracies which meet our definition of rights and competency?

    Which of you who want to bring about regime change is willing to sacrifice your life, or that of your son, to bring democratic government to China? Or restore it to Venezuela after Chavez finishes making himself the “elected” dictator?

    There is a significant cost to waging war to overthrow established regimes, in blood and treasure. We should move from the hypothetical to the practical when discussing war, death and destruction. Simply put, some 6,000 Americans have died fighting to establish the fragile democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan (33,000 more wounded). The casualty estimates for Iraqis and Afghans in these wars are estimated to be at least 20 times American loses.

    Additionally, an estimated 1.3 trillion American tax dollars have been spent on these two nation building exercises in the last 10 years. Are these costs too high? How many dead for a free Libya?

    We do not live in a utopian world. Every use of military power to improve the governments of other nations comes with a heavy price which is denominated in blood and sacrifice. We have an obligation to envision the faces of our dead and wounded soldiers when we consider the American Republic’s “duty” to stand up to tyranny and oppression in foreign lands.

    What if each American had to personally sacrifice instead of only a small proportion the young who risk life and limb? Would we be so agreeable to regime change policies if we had to pay an immediate war tax surcharge of 20 or 30% in addition to our current tax bill instead of borrowing to finance the wars and passing on the bill to unborn Americans?

    No, those who support American imposed regime change sound laudable but I hope that, in the end, we are not naive enough, or callous enough, to continue to offer up young and unborn Americans to pay the price for our utopian dreams of universal freedom as a gift to all at the point of a gun.

    We must be prudent. We must serve as an example of freedom and responsibility to the world. We must be strong enough to assist, encourage and inspire other peoples to find their own paths to ordered liberty. Alas, we do not have the power to end injustice, oppression or sin. America is not God.



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