President Barack Obama may well wish he had remained in Rio for their Spring festival. It seems our beleaguered president just can't win: now some Republicans and Democrats are on his case for authorizing American participation in the UN-sanctioned attempt to stop a bloodbath in Libya. That bloodbath was promised by Libya's Qaddafi, reinforced by his "charming" son who said that rivers of blood -- Libyan blood -- would flow in the streets of Tripoli and elsewhere unless the rebel forces gave up and surrendered at once.
Well, let's see: yes, there are Constitutional limits on a President's right to declare war, something which President Obama surely understands as a former Constitutional Law professor. But nobody has declared war on Libya, neither the U.S. nor the U.N. What we have done is to participate in, and temporarily lead, a strike force to enforce that NO FLY zone sanctioned by the United Nations. That is far less of an Act of War than the Kosovo bombings sanctioned by former President Bill Clinton, or for that matter the Korean "police action" of the 1950s sanctioned by former President Harry Truman.
Neither of those military actions had explicit Congressional sanction, nor have many other cases of American intervention in foreign disputes through the use of our Armed Forces. The point here is that not every such intervention is an Act of War; Korea was, Kosovo wasn't. But those Congressional backbiters seem incapable of making such fine distinctions, at least not where President Obama is concerned. As far as the Republicans are concerned, of course the President can't do anything right, no matter what he does.
These are the same Republicans who have occupied our Congress with all sorts of really-dumb legislation dealing with trivia while doing nothing about such major issues as jobs, education, and the environment. They are usually on the wrong side of those issues, so perhaps we progressives should be happy that the Republican leadership ignores them.
But it is a mite surprising that a number of the President's fellow Democrats appear so determined to undercut him on Libya. What is really at stake here is whether America will support an indigenous group of freedom fighters who have had the extraordinary courage to take on the reactionary and illegitimate regime of Muammar Qaddafi -- a regime which has been a State sponsor of terrorism for decades.
Libyan oil revenues have been used unapologetically to foment trouble all over the world, including the infamous Pan Am flight destroyed over Lockerbie, Scotland; the only convicted bomber of that flight was welcomed with open arm as a hero by Qaddafi when Scotland mistakenly freed him. The Qaddafi regime needs to go, and America needs to support those trying desperately to achieve that goal. And our Congress needs to support our President to help the world achieve regime change and justice for Libya.