The New York Times remains a strong supporter of President Barack Obama's "kinetic military action" in Libya, but in an unsigned editorial today even the Times admits what virtually everyone outside of the White House already understands: America is at war in Libya and the president is in violation of the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Act until he gets Congress' approval for it. Here's the Times:
Mr. Obama cannot evade his responsibility, under the War Powers Act, to seek Congressional approval to continue the operation.
The White House's argument for not doing so borders on sophistry — that "U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops," and thus are not the sort of "hostilities" covered by the act….
No matter how one sees this mission, the War Powers Act is an essential balance to the White House's — any White House's — power to wage war. Carving out an exception for drones or airstrikes would be a dangerous precedent, especially in an era when so much fighting can be done from the air and by remote control.
Let's delete the words "borders on" from the second paragraph above and just call it sophistry. We're firing cruise missiles into a foreign country, sinking that country's ships, and killing that country's ground forces via armed drones. That's a war. To pretend otherwise is laughable.