For the past eight years, we have been listening to his opponents castigate George Bush for the war in Iraq. According to them, the Iraq war was an undeclared, unconstitutional military action based on a false premise -WMD- and an intrusion into a sovereign nation’s civil war with no apparent planning or exit strategy. Eight years later with the hostilities finally winding down, many Americans would agree that this costly adventure in nation-building was ill-advised and not worth the loss of blood and treasure. Now, as we initiate new military action in another Arab country (Libya), we must question and demand answers from this administration about the goals of the mission. How realistic are the chances for success? What is the true risk to our military personnel and what exit strategy is in place?
The most important question, however, is, “Mr. President, where specifically in the Constitution do you find your authority to unilaterally declare and instigate a war against a sovereign foreign nation that did not attack us without the consent of Congress as required in Article I, Section 8?”
Another question of no less importance, “Mr. President, what article in the Constitution allows you to transfer the power to declare war, constitutionally reserved for Congress, to the United Nations?”
And lastly, “Mr. President, from where do you derive the moral authority to justify an invasion into a sovereign nation to promote the advantage of one side in an already-ongoing civil war?”
Over the past seventy years, it has been necessary to ask these questions repeatedly, in multiple eras and to multiple presidents. As a Senator, President Obama said, “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.” Mr. Obama got it right in 2007 but has apparently abandoned constitutional principle for current political and foreign policy expediency.
Declaring and waging war is a serious event. It was the clear intent of our founders to create and maintain checks and balances between the branch that declares war and the branch that executes the battle plan. The fact that the President sought approval from the UN instead of Congress is reason to question his commitment to adhere to the constitutional limits placed on his authority, not only in this instance, but in all future issues as well.
At this crucial time, our national focus must be on our catastrophic national debt, the crippling and demoralizing unemployment, and a failing economy burdened by onerous governmental regulation. We cannot afford to be distracted by another unconstitutional war or, worse yet, a prolonged, expensive, and likely futile exercise in nation-building in the Middle East. In addition, it has become all too obvious that we are unwelcome intruders in the Arab world and, having little understanding of their intricate internal politics, we often end up choosing the wrong partners for our own long term interests.
Ultimately, we show our best honor and respect for the rights and safety of our brave men and women in the military when we ensure that their deployment for the defense of our nation is consistent with constitutional requirements.