Over the last week, the United States has participated in a United Nations sanctioned enforcement of a no-fly zone over the Libyan mainland in order to prevent civilian casualties during the rebellion. While at first glance the motives used to justify this action appear to be admirable and well-intentioned, the involvement of the U.S. military in yet another foreign conflict is really both foolish and unconstitutional.
Opponents argue that the no-fly zone will save Libyan civilian lives. There is no question about this. The forces of Muammar Gaddafi have been brutally murdering civilians left and right, and enforcing a no-fly zone will surely limit their ability to do this. But the Libyan rebellion is one that was started without U.S. involvement. It should be finished the same way.
Further involvement in Libya will only reinforce the widely held international view that America constantly sticks its nose into other countries’ business, interfering in conflicts with which it has no ties. Committing our military to the Libyan conflict was a foolish decision which has already resulted in our nation involving itself in yet another foreign conflict, burning more of our already ridiculously large budget on military spending and putting the lives of American soldiers at risk. Admittedly, the risk is relatively low, but isn’t any risk at all too much on which to gamble the lives of American citizens? In just a week, we have spent over $550 million on our military actions in Libya, according to two Internet sources. Does anyone else realize how ridiculous it is to waste that much money? President Barack Obama was also quoted saying that he “hasn’t ruled out” arming the rebels, according to the BBC. What does that mean to U.S. citizens? It means more tax dollars to waste and more unnecessary support of a rebellion that has nothing to do with us and that we, as Americans (not Libyans), cannot begin to understand. The American public is already against military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why should we add another country to the list?
In contrast to such ideological arguments, we must look at the hard facts of the Constitution. In Article 1, Section 10, the Founding Fathers wrote that no state can “engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay … without the consent of Congress.” The Constitution explicitly states, “The Congress shall have the power … to declare war.”
If we define war as the waging of armed conflict against an enemy, then our involvement in Libya is a war. We know that the UN sanctioned the no-fly zone over Libya. We also know that the Arab League, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Gabon, Lebanon, Nigeria, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and South Africa sanctioned it, among various other nations. Obama received permission to send U.S. troops to Libya from numerous governments, but if there is one thing that should be made explicitly clear, it is that Congress did not approve military action in Libya. Without this approval, the involvement of U.S. troops in Libya by presidential order is blatantly and inarguably unconstitutional.
Further evidence comes from looking at the overall intention of the constitution, which is to provide a government for the American people, by the American people. When a single person can make such far reaching and even life endangering decisions, the constitution is not serving its true purpose. Granted, we elect the president to lead our nation, but we also elect our senators and representatives to check the power of the president. The president is rarely elected by more than a 2 or 3 percent margin of victory, while representatives and senators sometimes range to margins of victory of more than 40 percent. Most would argue that congressmen are better able to represent the will of their constituents than the president is. For one thing, they represent fewer people, making it easier to understand and respond to the needs of each of their constituents. They also represent a group of people who live in a similar area and often have similar political beliefs and cultural practices. As an example of how little public support there is for our operations in Libya, here are some statistics. According to a poll hosted by The Jersey Journal, 75 percent of voters said that the U.S. should not get militarily involved in Libya. On a poll by www.wkrg.com 68 percent of voters said the same, with only 26 percent saying we should get involved. Obama’s involvement of our military in Libya is obviously contradicting the wishes of the constituents who he was elected to serve.
The one good thing that has emerged from U.S. involvement in Libya is that it is already winding down. Over the course of the past week the U.S. had constantly reiterated that it hoped to turn over control of the operation to an international organization, a wish it received five days ago when NATO took command of the no-fly zone. However, U.S. expenditures will still total $40 million per year under NATO command. The fact that the Obama administration rapidly got cold feet and decided to turn over command seems to be proof that they realized quickly that the troop involvement was of questionable legality and lacked public support. The Obama administration already hopes to skip out of Libya waving a mission accomplished flag in order to comfort the constituents and congressmen who have so boldly opposed their involvement there. While impeaching Obama for his decision is basically out of the question, it is up to informed congressmen and constituents to hold him responsible for his gambling of U.S. lives, waste of American tax dollars in a time of massive debt, and most of all, his irrefutable violation of the U.S. Constitution.