A flippant beginning to another war 

"Today I authorized the armed forces of the United States to begin a limited action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians."

The wording is striking because it recalls the "Authorization of the Use of Force," in Iraq -- an authorization that Congress provided. It was not a unilateral action by the President, like today's "authorization" was. It seems pretty clear to me that the Constitution does not give the President the authority to start an offensive war with no Congressional approval.

Candidate Obama agreed with me. Here he is in 2007:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

Another striking detail: CNN reports that this announcement came "in an audio message from Brazil."

Add in the complete lack of debate, and Obama's silence on the matter before voting at the UN to approve an attack on Libya.

This seems a pretty flippant way to begin a war.

But maybe Obama doesn't think 112 Tomahawk Missiles and a pledge to shoot down Libyan aircraft flying in their own airspace counts as "war" -- in which case we have to wonder if we can ever know what he means by any word.

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Timothy P. Carney

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