A Clarification On Obama, The Libyan Civil War Intervention, And The War Powers Act

A few days ago, the author wrote in criticism of a group of Republican conservatives who were making an issue of the fact that 60 days has passed since the Libyan intervention, and that a resolution was needed to continue the intervention, under the War Powers Act of 1973.

The author incorrectly stated that no such resolution was required, but made the point that the Congress could, but never had, demanded the withdrawal of troops within a 60-90 day period, and never, realistically, would.

Upon further investigation, it turns out that it is not just a group of extremely conservative Republicans who are making an issue of this matter, but instead a bipartisan group that is pushing for a resolution next week in the Senate to continue support of the intervention.

And it turns out that yesterday, President Obama called for such a resolution to continue support, which is assured, despite criticism of some Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the political spectrum.

The group pushing a resolution includes Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, John Kerry of Massachusetts, Carl Levin of Michigan, and Diane Feinstein of California.

It turns out that Bill Clinton failed to get a resolution within 60 days when he intervened in Kosovo in 1999, with the intervention lasting 78 days, but with specific funding for it approved early on by Congress. In Obama’s case with Libya, no such specific funding has been authorized, and the mission has cost about $750 million already, and has angered forces on the left and the right, including intellectuals and constitutional law professors who contend that the War Powers Act has been further damaged by Obama’s failure to call for action sooner than yesterday.

The author hopes that the resolution will pass, so as to legitimize the intervention, and although the War Powers Act remains considered a “paper tiger” by many observers, it would be best NOT to have it declared totally ineffective, as the issue is not just Obama, but the balance of power between the executive branch and the legislative branch when it comes to war powers!