Thursday, June 16, 2011

Run That By Me Again?

So are we at war with Libya? Let me start out with some basics of my thinking.

One, I think we should have let the Europeans handle Libya--we're rather busy fighting others, the Europeans are not busy, and Libya isn't exactly a peer competitor that should have been too tough even for Europe's atrophied military might.

Two, once we committed our prestige to the outcome of the war, I think we need to win (or at least Khaddafi has to lose).

Three, our strategy of relying on air power is probably a long shot.

And four, I think the War Powers Act is unconstitutional. Congress can stop the commander-in-chief any time they want with the power of appropriations.

So basically I want to win what is clearly a war despite misgivings about getting involved and how we are waging war, and my belief that the War Powers Act is unconstitutional and so shouldn't get in the way of President Obama waging the war.

That said, I think it is preposterous that the Obama administration is claiming that the Libya War doesn't count as a war under the War Powers Act:

In contending that the limited American role did not oblige the administration to ask for authorization under the War Powers Resolution, the report asserted that “U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops.” ...

The two senior administration lawyers contended that American forces had not been in “hostilities” at least since early April, when NATO took over the responsibility for the no-fly zone and the United States shifted to primarily a supporting role — providing refueling and surveillance to allied warplanes, although remotely piloted drones operated by the United States periodically fire missiles, too.

They argued that United States forces are at little risk because there are no troops on the ground and Libyan forces are unable to exchange fire with them meaningfully.

So people who like to say that "if you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem" argue that blockading the enemy at sea, suppressing enemy air defenses, identifying targets to be bombed, refueling aircraft that drop the bombs, engaging in electronic warfare to aid the planes that drop the bombs, and supplying many of the actual bombs themselves don't count as waging war because we are not actually dropping the bombs (well, other than from our unmanned drones) and because the enemy is unable to effectively shoot back?

Well, the last part at least that fits with the old anti-war slogan that "it takes two sides to make war." Although I suspect what they had in mind was that if we--and only we--stop fighting an enemy there would be no war--not that our shooting alone does not count as war.

I find this fascinating.

I do believe that under this logic, we could nuke somebody and not fall under the administration's definition of war.

UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for the link. He has links to legal analysis. And I got a "Heh."

UPDATE: Thanks to The TrogloPundit for the link.

UPDATE: Thanks to Hoystory for the link.

UPDATE: Thoughts on why the war is illegal. I disagree (although since then I have to say that my initial impression that there was sufficient consultation with Congress has dissolved), but the author makes the interesting point that since President Obama clearly believes the War Powers Act is valid, it is right to analyze how the war violates the act. An excellent point.