Tuesday, June 21, 2011

War Powers and The Congressional Squirrel Trap

The current debate over the United States involvement in Libya has raised the ire of many members of Congress over President Obama’s perceived violation of the War Powers Act. As our so called leaders squabble over what constitutes an engagement of American forces within a so-called NATO campaign to oust the long-term Libyan strongman Mummer Gudaffi from power, there’s another question that has existed on the periphery of the debate. Some members of Congress have engaged in hot, exhaust fume, rhetoric about bringing resolutions to the floor of Congress that threaten to cut off funding for continued operations in Libya. Personally, I don’t understand why Mr. Obama doesn’t just go to Congress and get the authorization for further funding because when logical minded lawmakers consider the consequences of non action. he’ll get it.

Let’s talk about consequences of pulling funding for operations within Libya for a moment. We are all war-fatigued from ten years of operations in Afghanistan and eight in Iraq and with every news report of accident and suicide bombings our purpose there falls into greater public debate. But cutting off funds in Libya presents more long term problems than it would solve for politicians. On one hand, a politician may gain temporary brownie points from war-weary constituents. On the other hand though, if a mentally unstable Kaddafi is left standing, we’ve created the potential for a human bloodletting as his forces attempt to reassert control. Furthermore, Republicans have staked a decade of policy on the notion of being tough talking and tough acting on terror. Doesn’t cutting off funding fly in the face of this? Leaving a seething madman on his throne is stupid foreign policy. Kaddafi renounced terrorism several years ago, what the hell is stopping him from un-renouncing the tactic if we leave. Nobody can afford to be labeled soft on matters of national security, or be seen as anti troops.

So what does Congress do in this situation? My guess is that this whole thing is just one big gusty windstorm of Capitol Hill air.

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