Now that the dictatorial regime of Muammar Gaddafi is ending, we’re starting to see some people suggest that the outcome is a vindication of Barack Obama’s policy in Libya.
Let’s review the facts. First, Gaddafi was a dictator and he wasn’t an especially sane or pleasant man. Second, there are plenty of other countries run by unpleasant men. (They almost always seem to be men, don’t they?) Third, Libya had not attacked the United States or any other country.
Under these circumstances, there’s no sane reason for the United States (and other foreign powers) to send their military forces into the country to topple the government. It might make us all feel better — at least until the next guy becomes Dictator of the Week and arouses an outcry.
Even if the United States were going to invade Libya, there’s only one legal mechanism to make that immoral decision. In Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, it says:
“The Congress shall have power … To declare War….”
It doesn’t say anywhere that the president can run around the world invading countries he feels should be invaded — if he’ll simply call them liberations or “police actions” or any of the other euphemisms employed by politicians to obscure what they do. Unfortunately, U.S. president have been ignoring that prohibition — and Congress and the courts have been allowing it — for at least the last hundred years. In effect, the U.S. president has become a dictator when it comes to war.
This administration has argued that U.S. military forces weren’t engaged in “hostilities” and the president conveniently listened to the one administration lawyer he could find who said what he wanted, rather than the others who read the law as it was written. Given the Gaddafi was a dictator with few limits, how exactly does this make him different from Obama on this issue? They’re both unilateral dictators.
Things might end up better in Libya with Gaddafi gone, but it’s hard to say. Who knows what might take his place? But even if Libya becomes a model of the modern peaceful and happy democratic state, what Obama did on Iraq was illegal and immoral. Success can’t justify that.