Barack Obama’s administration is ... claiming that the War Powers Act does not apply to U.S. action in Libya. The key issue here is the meaning of “hostilities,” as there does not seem to be a clear definition on the books. Furthermore, the administration discusses NATO as though the U.S. is not an integral part of the military alliance.
"Rook" has some thoughts on the War Powers Act.
Oh, shades of Clinton; it all depends on what the definition of "is" is...
In WW2, even though there were specific one-on-one mutual declarations of war between the belligerent countries, FDR still chose to speak in terms of "Allies" and "Axis Powers" as though the US armed forces were subject to a supranational unified command. Of course they were not - no foreign country or general had EVER commanded US troops. But the malignant myth was put in place.
Truman compounded the myth by ordering US troops into a UN "police action" in Korea, setting the stage for formal subservience of US troops to a UN High Command. Accordingly, no, we Americans did not fight the war; no, we did not suffer the 53 thousands of dead; instead it was the UN vs. North Korea and its allies, almost exclusively Chinese "volunteers." Yea, sure, on all counts.
The flood gates were open for more "UN police actions," most notably in Viet Nam and Kuwait.
When 9/11 happened, Bush had a chance to undo this mess and set the world right by getting back to the Constitution. We and only we were attacked - true, not specifically by a country but by a clearly identifiable ethnic and religious entity enjoying the support of many countries -- and still he did not seize the opportunity to get Congress to formally declare war, as the Constitution requires, before US troops were put in harm's way; not when he decided we have to make war in Afghanistan, and not even when he decided to make war on Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Instead, he piddled around with one UN resolution after another (17 in all for Iraq alone).
So yes, this mess now in Libya (and brewing in Yemen, Syria, Iran and elsewhere) is partly Bush's fault. He could have declared that the War Powers Act is indeed unconstitutional, both in an executive order and in a congressional bill to repeal it, as it clearly is anunconstitutional attempt to reign in the President's war powers. He could have re-established the legal precedent of a formal declaration of war, in Afghanistan and in Iraq and everywhere else that Al Qaeda uses as a training and operating base.
But Obama is also at fault. Obama could have asked for a formal declaration of war against Libya, if indeed there is any justification for our military to act against Libya. Instead, he chose to make our military subservient to NATO with his "Lead from behind" idiocy.A formal declaration of war assures that Congress and the country are in clear agreement about the mission and the costs. It puts the burden on the target country; change your ways or face the wrath of our military.
He also could have asked for a declaration of war against Somalia so we can go and clean out the pirates who are helping raise money for Al Qaeda. In this particular case, make a choice, are you with Al Qaeda or on the side with the civilized world and therefore you help us root them out. "War" does not have to mean the utter destruction of the target country, unless that's the path chosen. We could help them down that path with far less expense and risk to life and limb than this police action, nation-building nonsense we are engaged in now.
And Pakistan has proven to be our enemy by first shielding Bin Laden for years when he was the main reason we went into Afghanistan; and then by arresting those Pakistanis who assisted the U.S. in getting Bin Laden...Should we formally declare war on Pakistan? How would they react to such a showdown? They would cave, of course, because they know we can secure our own supply lines simply by leveling everything in our way - including the inept and lazy Pakistan army.
But Obama won't ask Congress for any formal declarations of war against any entity because he's content with leading from behind in military confrontations, and he's content with not leading at all here at home!