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How the Politics of Intervention Encourage Bad Foreign Policy

 Were Americans better stewards of the Constitution's system of checks and balances, President Obama would be suffering for his unilateral decision to take us to war in Libya, a violation of the War Powers Resolution and an usurpation of Congress' prerogative to declare war. Instead, military intervention is evaluated by an "ends justify the means" approach. When the rebels took Tripoli and Muammar Qaddafi fell without any American casualties, many pundits were quick to congratulate Obama on what they deemed a job well done.

Even a successful intervention, undertaken the wrong way, establishes a precedent whereby future presidents can ignore Congress and wage wars on their own. But what's gone on here is even worse. We aren't just evaluating foreign intervention with an "ends justify the means" attitude; we're failing to be rigorous about assessing the end game. In Libya, the utilitarian analysis of whether American intervention "worked" has proceeded as if the wisdom of a war can be judged in the news cycles immediately following its conclusion -- as if only the most visible and immediate consequences of waging a war matter.

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