U.S. Congress Has Abdicated Its Responsibility, And Allowed President Obama To Act Like A Monarch
February 26, 2013 • 11:30AM

In an article with the National Interest (March-April), Jim Webb, former U.S. Senator from Virginia, concluded that the inaction of key Congressional leaders has allowed President Obama to "arguably establish the authority of the President to intervene militarily virtually anywhere without the consent or the approval of Congress, at his own discretion and for as long as he wishes." "It is not hyperbole to say that the President himself can now bomb a country with which we maintain diplomatic relations, in support of loosely aligned opposition groups that do not represent any coalition that we actually recognize as an alternative. We know he can do it because he already has done it," Webb wrote.

He pointed out the case of the Libyan invasion: "Libya represented the extreme (at least so far) of executive action in the absence of the approval of Congress. We took military action against a regime that we continued to recognize diplomatically, on behalf of disparate groups of opposing forces whose only real point of agreement was that they wished to rid Libya of Qaddafi. This was not even a civil war. As then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates put it to this writer during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, it is not a civil war when there is no cohesive opposition facing a regime.

"As a measure for evaluating future crises, it is useful to review the bidding that led to our actions in Libya. What did it look like when President Obama ordered our military into action in that country, and what has happened since? The President followed no clear historical standard when he unilaterally decided to use force in Libya. Once this action continued beyond his original definition of days, not weeks, into months and months, he did not seek the approval of Congress to continue military activities. And, while administration members may have discussed this matter with some members of Congress, the administration never formally conferred with the legislative branch as a coequal partner in our constitutional system," Webb concluded.