Foreign Policy

John Yoo Endorses Barack Obama's "Kinetic Military Action"


In the recent video "What Happened to the Antiwar Movement," my colleague Brian Doherty noted that you can actually still find bumper stickers in these United States featuring a peace symbol inside the first letter of the word Obama. Assuming the president's new "kinetic military action" in the Middle East hasn't prompted those car owners to peel the stickers off, here's something that might: John Yoo, the controversial former Bush administration lawyer, executive power enthusiast, "torture memo" author, and Andrew Jackson apologist, thinks Obama's undeclared war on Libya is a perfectly acceptable use of presidential power. As Yoo wrote last week in The Wall Street Journal:

President Barack Obama has again flip-flopped on national security—and we can all be grateful. Having kept Guantanamo Bay open, resumed military commission trials for terrorists, and expanded the use of drones, the president has now ordered the U.S. military into action without Congress's blessing….

Last Monday, Mr. Obama notified Congress that he ordered military action in Libya "pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive."

For once, Mr. Obama has the Constitution about right.

I wonder how many Obama voters expected John Yoo to endorse their man's vision of presidential war powers? But regardless, as New York University legal scholar Richard Epstein explains, both Yoo and Obama have it wrong:

The power to declare war lies in the Congress; the power to execute the decision to declare war rests in the President.  The power to declare as I understand is the power to change the state of relations between the United States and a foreign nation, so that the laws of war now apply to them.  The function of the President is then to lead that military effort as the commander-in-chief, not of the United States writ large, but of the Army and the Navy, and the militia when called into the active service of the United States—which it can be only when done pursuant to some Congressional action.  As was made very clear in Federalist Number 69, the President's power are far more limited than those of a king or even the governor of a state.

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  1. So, this is what exactly in the “Reason writers dislike Libya so much they must all post in sequence, ten minutes apart” series? Third?

  2. How about a pentacle in a circle for the initial letter in the image?

  3. …bumper stickers in these United States featuring a peace symbol inside the first letter of the word Obama.

    I still say that looks like the silhouette of a B-52 bomber inside the letter O.

    I always invisioned John Yoo’s legal advice consisting of him firing two chrome handguns inside the Capitol Building while kung fuing apart the Constitution as white doves fly past in slow motion. Whatever else you say about the man, he’s one hell of a director.

    1. Ahhh, but Chow Yun Fat just doesn’t look like Obama.

  4. “authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations”??

    So now dropping bombs on stuff is “foreign relations”?

    1. It certainly affects our relationship with other countries when we bomb them.

      1. It certainly in the aggregate, substantially affects our relationship with other countries when we bomb them.


    2. It is of a sort; we’re maintaining our good foreign relations with western Europe by helping to protect their numerous oil interests throughout the country.

    3. As any liberal mugged by reality will tell you, war is just a means to an end in international relations. You can, with perfect sincerity, refer to bombing euphemstically as taking a “firmer” approach to communication with a difficult country.

    4. It also affects interstate commerce.

  5. On the bright side, he’s being consistent. I’d disagree with him in terms of the justification both times, but it’s a notch better than being a simple partisan cheerleader.

    1. That’s one small fuckin’ notch.

  6. “Kinetic Military Action”

    I most often admire professionalism anywhere I see it, and this ranks right up there with copy-writing for womens’ skin care ads. You can listen to an entire 30 seconds of that sort of trash and admire someone who wrote the copy which managed to say absolutely *nothing* in that time.
    But WIH would be ‘non-kinetic military action’?

    1. Since the word “kinetic” relates to bodies in motion, I’d guess that “non-kinetic military action” is when our soldiers stand still and shoot people?

      Yeah, it makes no sense. But neither does “kinetic military action” so it would fit right in.

  7. cyber warfare. the military has been using this term for 10 years at least.

  8. I’m going to call him The Peace President from now on.

  9. I had a kinetic episode in the bathroom this morning… the day after corned beef and cabbage night always sets off the smoke alarm.

    Coming this weekend: A kinetic adult nekkid funtime episode with my female accomplice. No details will be given, though.

  10. Speaking of kinetic…I, Author Kenneth Adrian Ellis have a documented 4-part voice-command kinetic power that I reveal to readers in: A Kinetic Person’s Power, Sub Titled: Voice Command Ability!*NOTE* I hold a Certificate Of Copyright from the Library Of Congress for video footage on which I perform my special power! Visit these 2 links please…. (1st) ,search: kenneth a ellis…this is a author/book video trailer that is most viewed on two channels[1min:58sec].(2nd) ,which is my FACE BOOK AUTHOR FAN PAGE…click that you “LIKE” the page please! Thank You!

  11. Republican presidents,” said [Code Pink’s Medea] Benjamin. “A lot of the organizations that are bigger

  12. letter of the word Oba

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