- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 24, 2011

President Obama has lost his legitimacy to remain in office. The Libyan war has exposed the administration’s lawlessness and rampant criminality. If Republicans and conservatives are serious about restoring constitutional government, they will demand that Mr. Obama be impeached.

The war is going badly. The coalition is cracking; the strategic aims of the military intervention are not clear; Russia, China, India and Brazil oppose it; the Arab League is condemning the deaths of innocent Libyans caused by Operation Odyssey Dawn; and it appears that Moammar Gadhafi will succeed in clinging to power - defying the international community and humiliating the United States. Mr. Obama has called for Col. Gadhafi to step down. He has staked American prestige and power on helping bring about that end. The failure to achieve this will render America a paper tiger on the world stage. We will no longer be feared or respected.

NATO forces launched air strikes in order to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. The goal: to prevent Col. Gadhafi’s forces from slaughtering civilians. As Gadhafi loyalists marched toward the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, Mr. Obama decided to implement an American rescue mission. This mission, however, differs from previous ones in Kuwait, Bosnia and Kosovo. The United States is not taking the lead; rather, it is following the French and British. America is no longer acting like a superpower but a poodle of Paris and London.

Mr. Obama has engaged U.S. forces - risking precious blood and treasure - without a clear strategy for victory. He recklessly has allowed his country to be sucked into a conflict without a real national debate or consensus. His policy is shoddy, half-baked and irresponsible. It is amateur hour at the White House.

The most disturbing aspect, however, is the intervention’s lack of constitutional and legal authority. It is an illegal war. The Constitution clearly stipulates that only Congress can authorize the use of military force. Unless American territory has been invaded or U.S. citizens have been directly attacked, the president must first ask for congressional approval before ordering any kind of military action. To do otherwise is to behave like a despot.

That is why the Founding Fathers insisted that going to war could be sanctioned only by the people’s representatives. The most serious act of any state is to use military force - to demand that countrymen risk their lives on behalf of their nation. Hence, congressional input and approval is necessary as a fundamental check and balance against an imperial president.

Mr. Obama claims he does not need congressional authority. His behavior reflects contempt for the rule of law and American democracy. His arbitrary will trumps legal restraints. Unless he is stopped and removed from office, we are a constitutional republic in name only.

His blatant abuse of power is illegal, immoral and hypocritical. During the war in Iraq, then-Sen. Barack Obama criticized President George W. Bush for not asking Congress for a formal declaration of war. On Dec. 20, 2007, Mr. Obama said in a speech 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.”

Mr. Obama has less legal and moral justification for his Libyan campaign than Mr. Bush did in Iraq. Mr. Bush received congressional authorization for the use of force; Mr. Obama has not. Mr. Bush forged a broad coalition of nearly three-dozen countries to topple Saddam Hussein; Mr. Obama’s coalition is much narrower, with fewer countries. Mr. Bush’s goal was regime change; Mr. Obama’s is to protect some civilians from Col. Gadhafi’s airplanes but not from his tanks or artillery - which makes no sense.

Moreover, what “imminent threat” does Col. Gadhafi’s regime pose to the United States? None. He is a capricious killer who rightly is reviled by most of the Libyan people. Yet it is their war, not ours. America should use military force only to protect its vital national interests.

Also, Mr. Obama further insults the nation by asking for a resolution from the United Nations Security Council instead of seeking the approval of the American people. His actions demonstrate that he thinks a supranational institution, such as the United Nations, supersedes Congress. He also is tacitly relegating the Constitution to second-class status, especially compared to the U.N. charter. His actions undermine America’s national sovereignty and make our foreign policy hostage to a virulently anti-American international body. Mr. Obama has betrayed his country, his constitutional oath of office and his duty as commander in chief.

The Libyan war is part of a pattern of Mr. Obama’s unethical and criminal behavior. He passed Obamacare against the express will of the American people, systematically abusing the political process even though the federal government has no constitutional authority to take over health care. He has appointed countless policy “czars” possessing sweeping Cabinet-level powers without Senate consent or oversight. His cronies have directly sought to manipulate or interfere in Democratic primary campaigns on behalf of pro-Obama candidates - a flagrant violation of the law.

Mr. Obama is a socialist thug. Since entering office, he has engaged in a massive, almost unprecedented power grab. He thinks he is above the law, that he can cavalierly circumvent the limits imposed by the Constitution. Only one remedy will teach him that he cannot do so: impeachment.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.

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