Does Toppling Qaddafi Make U.S. Involvement in Libya Legal?


Over at the Washington Examiner, Timothy P. Carney asks a basic question about the U.S. role in Libya: Does being on the winning side make President Obama's intervention - which was undertaken without even a pretense of constitutionally required congressional authorization - legal? He thinks not, even as he realizes that "Obama won't be held accountable for illegally fighting a war. Republicans don't really want to open that can of worms."

Thanks, Republicans! Assuming he's right about a GOP non-response, let's all remember this next time the party of Lincoln gets on its high horse about the Constitution.

Carney notes that Obama supporters such as the Center for American Progress don't have any questions in the wake of recent events. Here's a tweet from their ThinkProgress blog account:

Does John Boehner still believe U.S. military operations in Libya are illegal?

Impressive. CAP doesn't say "wrong" or "ineffective." Nope, the legal status can change based on a W or a L in the tally column (and let's not forget that assuming a rebel victory goes as smoothly as possible, U.S./NATO presence can still be entangled there for decades).

Over at Salon, Carney notes, the principled civil libertarian Glenn Greenwald argues "Shamelessly exploiting hatred of the latest Evil Villain to irrationally shield all sorts of policies from critical scrutiny -- the everything-is-justified-if-we-get-a-Bad-Guy mentality -- is one of the most common and destructive staples of American political discourse, and it's no better when done here."

I don't always agree with Greenwald on a range of issues, but there's no doubt that he is not a situational ethicist, whose foreign policy (and domestic policy for that matter) depends simply on whether a particular development helps his preferred candidate or party at a given moment. Politics would be a lot less odious if there were more thinkers like that.

Reason on the Qaddafi regime, certainly one of the most despicable in the world.