There is no issue more serious than war. Wars result in the loss of life and property. Wars are also expensive and an enormous economic burden.
Our Founders understood that waging war is not something that should be taken lightly, which is why Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution gives Congress — not the president — the authority to declare war. This was meant to be an important check on presidential power. The last thing the Founders wanted was an out-of-control executive branch engaging in unnecessary and unpopular wars without so much as a Congressional debate.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly the situation we have today in Libya.
That’s why I’ve joined several other members of Congress in a lawsuit against President Obama for engaging in military action in Libya without seeking the approval of Congress.
Of course, in 2007, then-Senator Obama spoke passionately about the need to go after the Bush administration for violating the War Powers Act — the very same thing he’s doing now. In fact, while speaking at DePaul University in October of 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama said the following:
“After Vietnam, Congress swore it would never again be duped into war, and even wrote a new law — the War Powers Act — to ensure it would not repeat its mistakes. But no law can force a Congress to stand up to the president. No law can make senators read the intelligence that showed the president was overstating the case for war. No law can give Congress a backbone if it refuses to stand up as the co-equal branch the Constitution made it.”
We are now taking Barack Obama’s past advice and standing up to the executive branch.
Of course, the War Powers Act is hardly an improvement on the U.S. Constitution because it does allow the president to go to war without the approval of Congress. But President Obama refuses to follow this law.
If a president does go to war unilaterally, the War Powers Act requires him to seek Congressional approval within 60 days. The president can get an extension of up to 90 days if he asks for more time — but President Obama did not do this.
His time is up.
The Obama administration recently issued a 38-page paper stating that Obama is not in violation of the War Powers Act because “U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops.” Under this argument, President Obama could preemptively launch nuclear weapons against any country in the world without Congressional approval. Obviously, this is not what the Founders intended!
But even aside from violating the Constitution, it makes no economic sense for us to be engaged in yet another war overseas — especially during such tough economic times. For years now, we’ve been sending foreign aid to the very same Libyan government we’re now spending $10 million a day to fight. And it has been recently discovered that the Federal Reserve’s bank bailouts even benefited the Libyan National Bank. Now, we’re taxing the American people to bomb the very nation that we taxed them to prop up.
This makes no sense at all.
The Founding Fathers did not intend for the president to have the power to take our nation to war unilaterally without the approval of Congress.
It’s time for the president to obey the Constitution and put the American people’s national interest first.
Rep. Ron Paul represents Texas’s 14th Congressional District and is a Republican candidate for president.