It used to be that launching a hundred Tomahawk missiles into a country killing numerous people would be an act of war. Imagine if Cuba launched a hundred missiles into Florida. I believe we would consider that an act of war. The United States Constitution has provisions on how we are to conduct war. It says in Article I Section 8 that Congress shall have the power to declare war. It seems that we have constructed a new way of declaring war. Here are the requirements:
1) Have one or more UN Security Council Resolutions;
2) Form a â€ścoalitionâ€ť; and
3) Attack whomever you want.
Iâ€™ve been writing novels about the tension between the legal requirements for conducting war and what we actually do since my first novel, Balance of Power. Â Things are not getting better. President Obama is as comfortable with adventurous military activity as President Bush was going in to Iraq (and for the record, I supported going in to Afghanistan as that was where the 9/11 attacks originated and were orderedâ€”but Iraq? Why Iraq? Because they violated UN Security Council resolutions?).
President Obama consulted with the UN, Â and sent diplomats all over Europe and the Middle East to form a â€ścoalition.â€ť (Thatâ€™s where others make it look like they support what weâ€™re doing, but we end up doing seventy-five percent of whatever has to be done.) This coalition includes the Arab League–an association of dictators–and several European countries. So our government, formed and bound by the Constitution, consulted with the UN, the Arab League, European countries, but not Congress. How can that be when Congress is where the power to declare war resides?
But regardless of who has the power, is what weâ€™re doing in Libya a good idea? In short, no. We are violating one of the fundamental rules of military conduct. Do not become involved in a civil war absent a compelling national interest. Â We may hope Gaddafi topples, and we may hope for democracy. But what right do we have to impose our will by military power on the country of Libya?