President Barack Obama sent Speaker of the House John Boehner, Ohio Republican, a letter on Monday stating the administration’s move to begin muliti-lateral military operations in Libya as a result of authorization from United Nation’s Security Council. I have bolded areas in the letter to show Mr. Obama’s justification for this military operation as a result of only U.N. authorization.
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
At approximately 3:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, on March 19, 2011, at my direction, U.S. military forces commenced operations to assist an international effort authorized by the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council and undertaken with the support of European allies and Arab partners, to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and address the threat posed to international peace and security by the crisis in Libya. As part of the multilateral response authorized under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, U.S. military forces, under the command of Commander, U.S. Africa Command, began a series of strikes against air defense systems and military airfields for the purposes of preparing a no-fly zone. These strikes will be limited in their nature, duration, and scope. Their purpose is to support an international coalition as it takes all necessary measures to enforce the terms of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. These limited U.S. actions will set the stage for further action by other coalition partners.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 authorized Member States, under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in Libya, including the establishment and enforcement of a “no-fly zone” in the airspace of Libya. United States military efforts are discrete and focused on employing unique U.S. military capabilities to set the conditions for our European allies and Arab partners to carry out the measures authorized by the U.N. Security Council Resolution.
Muammar Qadhafi was provided a very clear message that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. The international community made clear that all attacks against civilians had to stop; Qadhafi had to stop his forces from advancing on Benghazi; pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya; and establish water, electricity, and gas supplies to all areas. Finally, humanitarian assistance had to be allowed to reach the people of Libya.
Although Qadhafi’s Foreign Minister announced an immediate cease-fire, Qadhafi and his forces made no attempt to implement such a cease-fire, and instead continued attacks on Misrata and advanced on Benghazi. Qadhafi’s continued attacks and threats against civilians and civilian populated areas are of grave concern to neighboring Arab nations and, as expressly stated.
in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, constitute a threat to the region and to international peace and security. His illegitimate use of force not only is causing the deaths of substantial numbers of civilians among his own people, but also is forcing many others to flee to neighboring countries, thereby destabilizing the peace and security of the region. Left unaddressed, the growing instability in Libya could ignite wider instability in the Middle East, with dangerous consequences to the national security interests of the United States. Qadhafi’s defiance of the Arab League, as well as the broader international community moreover, represents a lawless challenge to the authority of the Security Council and its efforts to preserve stability in the region. Qadhafi has forfeited his responsibility to protect his own citizens and created a serious need for immediate humanitarian assistance and protection, with any delay only putting more civilians at risk.
The United States has not deployed ground forces into Libya. United States forces are conducting a limited and well-defined mission in support of international efforts to protect civilians and prevent a humanitarian disaster. Accordingly, U.S. forces have targeted the Qadhafi regime’s air defense systems, command and control structures, and other capabilities of Qadhafi’s armed forces used to attack civilians and civilian populated areas. We will seek a rapid, but responsible, transition of operations to coalition, regional, or international organizations that are postured to continue activities as may be necessary to realize the objectives of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973.
President Obama is facing fierce criticism on Capitol Hill from both parties for not consulting Congress before he took military action. The Washington Times Editorial page, this weekend, expresses concern that the President’s decision to execute military operations because of U.N. authorization is troubling, as issues of our nation’s sovereignty and U.N. limitations regarding military action in other countries will only hamstring the Untied States: (bolding is mine)
With Thursday’s passage of United Nations Security Council resolution 1973, the United States is set to go to war against Libya. Removing Moammar Gadhafi from power would probably advance the cause of freedom, but the United Nations has no legal authority to take a step of this magnitude. By bowing to the will of the U.N. Security Council, President Obama is diluting the sovereign power of the United States.
The U.N. resolution authorizes member states to take a number of military and nonmilitary actions to protect the people of Libya from Col. Gadhafi’s government. Under its own rules, however, the United Nations cannot legally authorize military action to shape the internal affairs of member states. Article 2 section 7 of the U.N. charter states that, “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter.” Chapter VII of the charter, which enumerates U.N. intervention powers, applies only to international breaches of the peace. The December 1981 U.N. “Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention and Interference in the Internal Affairs of States” reaffirmed this principle with its solemn declaration that, “No State or group of States has the right to intervene or interfere in any form or for any reason whatsoever in the internal and external affairs of other States.”
Unlike President George W. Bush, Mr. Obama does not have the same Congressional authorization Mr. Bush had, when the 43rd president ordered strikes in both Iraq and Afghanistan: Public Law 107 – 243 – Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.
It should also be noted that President Obama has half the coalition partners in this military action than President Bush had during the initial strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan, Fox Nation reports. Interestingly, as a Senator and presidential candidate President Obama attacked President Bush for taking “unilateral” action in Iraq.
The Boston Globe interviewed then-Senator Obama in 2007 on the use of unilateral military action: (bolding is mine)
Question: In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)
Obama: 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.
As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.
Not only does President Obama, apparently, take authorization for military action more seriously from U.N. than from Congress, he also contradicts his original philosophy as well. The question remains obvious: Who exactly doe Barack Obama believe he answers to? It is continuing to look like it’s not the American people.