“The President does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or immenent threat to the nation.”
–Quoting Senator Barack Obama on December 20th, 2007 to the Boston Globe
Yes Mr. President I do suppose it’s a lot easier being Hu Jintao in China where you don’t have to worry about a messy thing like the Constitution for every decision you make. With that said, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates appeared on “Face the Nation” and “This Week” this past weekend and gave a brief glance as to why we are bombing Libya and it has to do with vital interest …… but not America’s vital interest. No, Qaddafi ended his program of Weapons of Mass Destruction seven years ago.
Lets start with Secretary Clinton on “Face the Nation” who said “When it comes to Libya we started to hear from the U.K., France, Italy and other NATO allies this was in their vital interest.” She went on to note how this strife affects Europe’s key interest in oil and immigration and went on to note how our NATO allies came to our aid in Afghanistan (Hmmmm it seems I mentioned immigration as a cause last Thursday). Secretary Gates meanwhile admitted that Libya DID NOT pose a threat to the United States’ vital interest and when asked if U.S.commitment could last to year’s end he said, “I don’t know the answer to that.” Secretary of State Clinton when asked if the United States is willing to enter other conflicts if governments attack their own people replied, “It’s to early to talk about intervention in Syria.” Now maybe I’m getting old and my hearing is shot but I fail to hear any protesters chanting “No War for Oil” in this current ill-thought-through adventure especially since the oil isn’t for us.
However lets not be too harsh on President Obama here because our last four Presidents have failed to define what our post-Cold War national interest is besides their finger to the wind foreign policy. President Clinton believed in providing our troops for “peace keeping missions” while President Bush (H. W.) went the multilaterism route against Hussein. I did not hear, however, one peep from either Conservatives nor Progressives when his son, while having little choice but national defense after 9/11 in his second inaugural address, proposed virtual perpetual war for perpetual peace (“It is the policy of the United States to seek and support growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world”). All these decisions lead to poor use of our resources, troops and prestige around the world.
So where does this leave America in the perilous 21st century as far as foreign policy is concerned? While we do have enermies who are out to destroy us, I’m not advocating crusades nor perpetual war in search of peace just as I’m against useless peripheral engagements or isolationism. America must be engaged for AMERICAN STRATEGIC INTEREST of prosperity, democracy and security around the world and should think through the long term consequenses and perimeters before attempting any foreign engagement. Above all, have a foreign policy or doctrine in place so as not to lead belligerent states to believe they can coerce our principles at their whim.