Continuing my earlier thoughts on Libya, I don’t know how I’d vote if I were in Congress and Obama actually did ask for authorization at this point. While I believe that going into Libya in the first place was a serious mistake, once in, I do think it’s in our interest to decapitate Qaddafi’s regime as quickly and decisively as possible. The president shouldn’t have put American prestige on the line in this case. Having done so, however, there is a powerful case to be made for quickly and aggressively following through.
On the other hand, if Obama explicitly asked Congress to authorize an intervention not keyed to quick decapitation of the current regime, and instead openly endorsed action in Libya as a precedent for principles like “Responsibility to Protect,” I could see myself voting no.
The reason Obama is coming up with tenuous legalisms instead of going to Congress for authorization is that he desperately wants to avoid open avowal of his purposes in this war. Yet that is precisely why he ought to go to Congress and the public.
With our forces already committed, I could reluctantly support continued hostilities in Libya, if based on the right principles. But that is not a blank check. I hope Congress feels the same. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that Obama will identify and justify his real goals in Libya any time soon.