Among the nations that have signed on to the attacks are Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates — all vital accomplices in the winning of hearts and minds. And yet, for all the cosmopolitanism, one crucial ally was conspicuously missing from the roster of the willing: the Congress of the United States.
Since he ordered military action in Libya in 2011, President Obama has argued as a matter of routine that Article II of the U.S. Constitution confers such considerable power upon the commander-in-chief that, in most instances at least, Congress’s role in foreign affairs is limited to that of advice bureau. The political ironies of this development are sufficiently rich to stand without much comment. (Imagine, if you will, trying to explain to an average voter in 2008 that by his second term the Democratic candidate for president would have adopted wholesale an interpretation of the Constitution that was championed by the likes of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and John Yoo.) Less obvious, however, is what this means for America and her future. The bottom line: It’s not good.
Read the whole thing.
My initial reaction to the bombing campaign was that surely renewed action in Iraq must be covered by the existing use of force authorization from 2003. But that concerned the Saddam regime which is long since toppled. And the absence of a Status of Forces Agreement and the removal of all of our forces (minus vestigial embassy protection troops) would seem render the old authorization moot, and thus no longer operative.
Yet instead of going to Congress, Obama has gone again to the UN to explain his unilateral actions after the fact.
I’m not sure Cooke has it quite correct when he speaks of Obama’s “divine right.” The phrase I keep thinking of instead is l’état, c’est moi.