The WSJ reports that leading GOP seem to be seeking a formal declaration of war on Libya. Apparently, Sen. Richard Lugar, ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, stated:
If the Obama administration decides to impose a no-fly zone or take other significant military action in Libya, I believe it should first seek a congressional debate on a declaration of war.
I don't see the reason for a break from tradition on the president's War Powers, and can't imagine the benefit of further delay so that Congress may debate. Obama has done nothing for weeks - Congress had plenty of time to debate. Lugar professes a disingenuous congressional impotence in feigning an inability to take up deliberations prior to presidential invitation. I don't recall similar demands on Bush from the right, and see no reason for a WWII-style resolution for Libya (Europe would not follow suit, and America would appear to be setting the stage for a lengthy invasion - quite contrary to our intent).
Whether Obama has an interest in consulting Congress, however, is an interesting question. It would perhaps pacify Obama's left-wing, setting a new precedent of restraint for a constituency hungry for limits on executive power. It also allows Obama to diffuse the responsibility for war (and funding). Most interesting, it would align Obama with the Constitution - he may defer to the long-established War Powers executive privilege as well as the Constitution's allocation of war decisions to Congress. Having already authorized military options, it would be an act of humility following action. But the effect would likely be a circus in Congress, and the entire crisis would be resolved before Congress actually brought the issue to a vote.
I previously criticized GOP complaints that Obama did not seek a formal declaration of war or permit congressional debate on the issue. However, I did not intend to address the propriety of Obama's having failed to seek any form of congressional... Read More