Last week we once again heard numerous voices calling for intervention in Libya. Most say the US should establish a "no-fly" zone over Libya, pretending that it is a benign, virtually cost-free action, and the least we could do to assist those trying to oust the Gaddaffi regime. Let us be clear about one thing: for the US to establish a "no fly" zone over all or part of Libya would constitute an act of war against Libya. Establishing any kind of military presence in the sovereign territory of Libya will require committing troops to engage in combat against the Libyan air force, as well as anti-aircraft systems. The administration has stated that nothing is off the table as they discuss US responses to the unrest. This sort of talk is alarming on so many levels. Does this mean a nuclear strike is on the table? Apparently so.
In this case, I would like to make sure we actually follow the black letter of the law provided in the Constitution that explicitly grants Congress the sole authority to declare war. This week I will introduce a concurrent resolution in the House to remind my colleagues and the administration that Congress alone, not the president, decides when to go to war. It is alarming how casually the administration talks about initiating acts of war, as though Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution does not exist. Frankly, it is not up to the President whether or not we intervene in Libya, or set up "no-fly" zones, or send troops. At least, it is not if we follow the Constitution. Even by the loose standards of the War Powers Resolution, which cedes far too much power to the president, he would have no authority to engage in hostilities because we have not been attacked – not by Gaddafi, and not by the rebels. This is not our fight. If the administration wants to make it our fight, let them make their case before Congress and put it to a vote. I would strongly oppose such a measure, but that is the proper way to proceed.