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Wars Should Be Declared by Congress, Not Merely Launched by Presidents

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From The Nation

The grotesque extremes to which Muammar Qaddafi has gone to threaten the people of Libya -- and to act on those threats -- have left the self-proclaimed "king of kings" with few defenders in northern Africa, the Middle East or the international community.

Even among frequent critics of US interventions abroad, there is disgust with Qaddafi, and with the palpable disdain he has expressed for the legitimate aspirations of his own people.

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So it is that the advocacy for military intervention has spread far beyond the usual circle of neoconservative hawks.

The circumstance is made easier by the fact that the bombing of Libya by US and allied planes is being carried out under the auspices of the United Nations. And with his words and his initial reluctance with regard to taking military action, President Obama has seemed to avoid many of the excesses of his predecessors.

Yet, now the headline on CNN reads "Libya War."

And anyone who takes the Constitution seriously should have a problem with the fact that, once again, the United States is involved in a war that has neither been debated nor declared by the Congress of the United States.

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The penchant of presidents of embark upon military adventures without consulting Congress is now so pronounced that it is barely noted anymore that the Constitution says "Congress shall have power to"declare War."

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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