Obama's Actions Are Legal - So Far

Liam Ryan
There seems to be a lot of dialogue on AmericanThinker over how Obama's actions amount to an illegal war and, even, calling for his impeachment. I should point out that I am no Obama fan. In the spirit of open and honest discussion, however, I am not entirely sure why people adopt this position (besides an understandable desire to see Obama kicked-out).  Nonetheless, it seems to me that his actions have been legal, and in compliance with the US Constitution, UN Charter and War Powers Act. Two things, it seems, need to be highlighted:

Firstly, does President Obama need to seek the consent of Congress to make forces available at the request of the UN Security Council? This was tested in 1945 and it has become something of US precedent that the authorisation from Congress is not needed to enforce Article 42 of the UN Charter. The United Nations Participatory Act (UNPA) contains Article 6 which says:

The President shall not be deemed to require the authorization of the Congress to make available to the Security Council on its call in order to take action under article 42 of said Charter and pursuant to such special agreement or agreements the armed forces, facilities, or assistance

Article 42 calls upon member states to "take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations." The United States has a long-established history whereby the United Nations can ignore the requests of Congress. This is simply reality at the present. Presidents have since done exactly as Obama in Panama, Kosovo, Somalia, Grenada; and now in Libya. This is the legal position the United States has established.  If it wishes to pass legislation forbidding the use military force without the express approval of Congress, then it needs to do so explicitly stating that. So far, at least, Obama is acting legally.

Secondly, but less importantly, President Obama has not actually declared war. Obama may be the Commander-In-Chief, but he cannot declare war without the consent of Congress. That is true. But Obama has authorized US military forces to participate in a NATO led military effort. It seems Mr. Obama and his aides also said he and top advisers had consulted with bipartisan leaders in Congress. President Obama has 60 days to use military troops under the War Powers Act. Then, he has 30 days to bring them back to the US. So, so far at least, he is operating within constitutional limits. It gives the President short-term Congressional approval, but if it becomes prolonged, then Congress must consent to it -- but, as I described above, Congress is simply not needed.

On a side note, the Iraq War is a completely different subject. I discuss the legality of the Iraq War with respect to the United Nation Charter and Security Council Resolutions -- if you're interested.

Personally, I dislike multilateralism, and despite your views on the relationship between the United States and the UN; the charge that Obama has committed an illegal act is absurd -- and quite laughable -- considering he is so desperate not to be associated with the Bush episode.

My blog is british-neolibertarian.blogspot.com
There seems to be a lot of dialogue on AmericanThinker over how Obama's actions amount to an illegal war and, even, calling for his impeachment. I should point out that I am no Obama fan. In the spirit of open and honest discussion, however, I am not entirely sure why people adopt this position (besides an understandable desire to see Obama kicked-out).  Nonetheless, it seems to me that his actions have been legal, and in compliance with the US Constitution, UN Charter and War Powers Act. Two things, it seems, need to be highlighted:

Firstly, does President Obama need to seek the consent of Congress to make forces available at the request of the UN Security Council? This was tested in 1945 and it has become something of US precedent that the authorisation from Congress is not needed to enforce Article 42 of the UN Charter. The United Nations Participatory Act (UNPA) contains Article 6 which says:

The President shall not be deemed to require the authorization of the Congress to make available to the Security Council on its call in order to take action under article 42 of said Charter and pursuant to such special agreement or agreements the armed forces, facilities, or assistance

Article 42 calls upon member states to "take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations." The United States has a long-established history whereby the United Nations can ignore the requests of Congress. This is simply reality at the present. Presidents have since done exactly as Obama in Panama, Kosovo, Somalia, Grenada; and now in Libya. This is the legal position the United States has established.  If it wishes to pass legislation forbidding the use military force without the express approval of Congress, then it needs to do so explicitly stating that. So far, at least, Obama is acting legally.

Secondly, but less importantly, President Obama has not actually declared war. Obama may be the Commander-In-Chief, but he cannot declare war without the consent of Congress. That is true. But Obama has authorized US military forces to participate in a NATO led military effort. It seems Mr. Obama and his aides also said he and top advisers had consulted with bipartisan leaders in Congress. President Obama has 60 days to use military troops under the War Powers Act. Then, he has 30 days to bring them back to the US. So, so far at least, he is operating within constitutional limits. It gives the President short-term Congressional approval, but if it becomes prolonged, then Congress must consent to it -- but, as I described above, Congress is simply not needed.

On a side note, the Iraq War is a completely different subject. I discuss the legality of the Iraq War with respect to the United Nation Charter and Security Council Resolutions -- if you're interested.

Personally, I dislike multilateralism, and despite your views on the relationship between the United States and the UN; the charge that Obama has committed an illegal act is absurd -- and quite laughable -- considering he is so desperate not to be associated with the Bush episode.

My blog is british-neolibertarian.blogspot.com