Out of the great and ongoing dithering, world sports & war by remote control tour some good may come. If the Libya no fly zone goat rope showed one thing it's that we have no coherent established and articulated policy for the use of military force. We have what seem to be some fairly clear guidance in the Constitution and the War Powers Act, and yet we don't seem to feel like holding our Presidents to the letter of those laws. We seem to recognize that a Commander in Chief needs some freedom of maneuver before having to herd those cats of Congress into a formal declaration of war or some lesser writ of ass kickery.
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama Wednesday categorically ruled out a land invasion to oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi as coalition forces launched a fifth day of air strikes against government military targets in the North African nation.
OK fine, it was never really on the table anyhow. But let's see if we can cleave a distinction and precedent about military force from this. The President can, when he deems it necessary, under his Article II constitutional authority as CinC occasionally pummel bad actors, tyrants, terrorists, genocidists etc. as long as he does not roll tanks. It has been common practice for long enough now that we ought to just be able to nod our heads and agree. I don't want any President to have to ask Congress if he can whack a terrorist camp, or send a friendly cruise missile reminder to bad guys. These things can help focus the bad guy's minds on consequences and therefore avoid actual open conflict.
So the power of Dirty Tricks, Skullduggery and things that go BAKOW in the night is firmly entrenched in the President's authority as CinC. If he wants to play Desert Fox- Patton v. Rommel, he has to ask.