The drumbeat of war is raging yet again with many calling for American intervention in the Syrian civil war conflict and for American action to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program. However, successful short-term policy outcomes often make for bad constitutional precedents. On March 19, 2011, President Barak Obama ordered American missile and air strikes against targets in the sovereign nation of Libya in support of rebel forces opposing the government. By late October, Muammar Gaddafi’s body was being dragged through the streets and abused by the triumphant rebels who had been assisted by American bombs.
None of us mourn the toppling of a brutal dictator, but we should all mourn for the overthrow of the plain meaning of the U.S. Constitution by any president who takes it to be within his power to bomb any other nation, to kill foreign citizens with weeks and months of cruise missile strikes, and expend the nation’s treasures without any consultation with Congress.