In 2007, a United States senator wisely observed that "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." That senator was Barack Obama.
On March 19 President Barack Obama, without the support of Congress, unilaterally authorized a military attack on Libya, whose situation does not involve any imminent threat — or any threat at all — to our nation. What a difference four years makes.
Then-senator Obama was correct. The Constitution makes it explicitly clear that while the president is commander-in-chief, only Congress may declare war. In recent decades, the executive branch has been disturbingly bold in its initiation of military force in foreign countries
without congressional approval beforehand.
Congress has responded by giving away its war powers easily, especially with the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in Vietnam and the Iraq Resolution in 2002. Both of these gave the executive branch full discretion to use the military as it saw fit. Passing full authority to the president allows Congress to claim credit for a "successful" war and distance itself from an "unsuccessful" one.
Cowardice in Congress is nothing new and neither is the liberal use of the military by the president. However, when Obama was campaigning for president, he noticeably opted not to describe his candidacy as "nothing new," but instead promoted himself as the candidate of "change." The only thing that seems to be changing is the number of buildings left standing in Libya.
Libya is under the rule of Moammar Gadhafi, a dictator who uses violence against those who oppose his rule. Was Saddam Hussein any different? Or does Obama think that military intervention in Iraq was the right decision? If so, I've never heard him say that.
Obama has promised not to deploy ground troops, a stark difference from President Bush, but at this point it's hard to trust Obama's promises. He promised that health care negotiations with insurance providers would be televised, he promised the Drug Enforcement Administration would stop raiding medical marijuana dispensaries in states where they're legal. He promised to end federal no-bid contracts above $25,000, and he promised he'd allow five days for the public to read any legislation that came across his desk before he signed it.
The negotiations were not televised, the DEA continues to raid legal dispensaries, the federal government continues to issue no-bid contracts, and Obama frequently signs bills he receives in less than five days. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of broken promises. To quote then-senator Joe Biden, "That's not change, that's more of the same."
Obama is most frequently described as being Carter-esque, Clinton-esque or another FDR. Considering the lack of transparency in his administration, the bombing of a Middle Eastern country in the name of "freeing its people," a massive expansion of the federal government's role in health care and the continuing growth of the surveillance state, the president who Obama most accurately resembles is George W. Bush.