This now viral video comparing Obama the awesome and Bush on their war-making rationales raises some serious points. It's clear that the President can wage war without declaring it--perfectly constitutional. A constitutionally dubious law, the War Powers Act, hedges in that power, while acknowledging its temporary use. Moreover: as important as the discussion of constitutionality is, it is subordinate to prudence and statesmanship. A perfectly constitutional action can also be perfectly stupid. And the humanitarian issue is at best secondary. But the President is obliged to explain. It's finals.
Primary issues: Is this the moment for vengeance against Ghadaffi for his killing of Americans? (We don't necessarily need civil war for that purpose.) Can we influence his successors? Will the oil keep flowing? Will the European powers act in concert in a way that supports our interests? Which regional powers will make use of a post-Ghadaffi Libya for good or ill?
I don't exclude the possibility of Obama/Clinton making the best of a demanding situation after initial flailing (viz. Honduras), but there is little in the Obama record to inspire confidence. One would think we are seeing a foreign policy produced by a man who is totally unrooted, completely anchorless. Exactly what one would expect from the author of Dreams From My Father.
How appropriate that the Libya operation has been dubbed Odyssey Dawn. Recall the first line of Homer's epic poem: "Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns/ driven time and again off course once he had plundered/ the hallowed heights of Troy."
Treppenwitz: I had forgotten to remark that the hypocrisy concerning this issue may work to a better understanding of what it means to live in a republican (small "r") form of government. To rule and be ruled under republican principles requires an understanding of and commitment to them. That is the basis of loyal opposition, not opposition for its own sake. A public person who could teach this lesson would deserve honor.