The Obama Doctrine: seek international permission, not Congressional authority, to employ our military
We all know Obama likes to outsource work and does not believe as much in national sovereignty as he does in giving power over our actions to foreigners. This was the principle he followed when he sought permission from the Arab League to engage in actions to oust Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi. He never sought Congressional authority under the War Powers Act to go to war in Libya. There were excuses that this ignoring of Congress was due to time pressures -- the need to act quickly to save lives. But apparently this has now become the Obama Doctrine -- if one is believe testimony from both Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Under question from Sen. Sessions at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey indicated that "international permission," rather than Congressional approval, provided a 'legal basis' for military action by the United States. Here is the brief (7 minute long) YouTube video of their testimony.
The twitter that pointed this out to me (from Iowahawk... one of America's great satirists) stated that this might be the most inane 7 minutes of Congressional testimony one is likely to hear. The focus is on the need for "international permission" (such as from NATO and the United Nations) or legitimacy from international law before the American military will use force. Dempsey does note that America can defend itself without such restrictions.
But they are apparently sending a message to our allies -- and one imperiled ally in particular -- that we will not help you militarily to defend yourselves. Israel in particular must be questioning whether they can trust this administration -- especially when President Obama has already backtracked on his campaign-like promise to have Israel's "back" in its efforts to protect its people from the Iranian nuclear program. There are no assurances given by Barack Obama that can ever be relied upon.
President Obama is apparently fine with Iran developing the capability to build a nuclear weapon but indicated he might consider military means to stop them if they are detected as actually assembling a bomb.
Of course, how would we ever know when this is happening? It could be done underground, in a garage, in what looks like a school. Can we really assume our intelligence is that skilled?
A thought experiment: we miraculously find out the regime is assembling a nuclear weapon, an assembly that could be done in a very brief amount of time.
Then what? According to Dempsey and Panetta, America would have to seek international permission to strike Iran. How long does any rational person think it would take for the United Nations to give America permission to take out Iran's nuclear bombs? Why do I think the answer is never?
Panetta and Dempsey have just sent a message that the feckless international community has a veto over our military forces.
The Iranians are listening and so are the Israelis.
SESSIONS: Do you think you can act without Congress and initiate a no-fly zone in Syria without congressional approval?
PANETTA: Our goal would be to seek international permission... Whether or not we would want to get permission from the Congress-I think those are issues we would have to discuss as we decide what to do here.
SESSIONS: Well I am almost breathless about that because what I heard you say is, "we're going to seek international approval and we'll come and tell the Congress what we might do, and we might seek congressional approval" ... Wouldn't you agree that would be pretty breathtaking to the average American?
PANETTA: If we are working with an international coalition or NATO we would want to be able to get appropriate permissions in order to be able to do that. All of these countries would want to have some kind of legal basis on which to act.
SESSIONS: What "legal basis" are you looking for? What entity?
PANETTA: If NATO made the decision to go in, that would be one. If we developed an international coalition beyond NATO then obviously some kind of U.N. security resolution would be the basis for that.
SESSIONS: So you are saying NATO would give you a "legal basis?" And an ad hoc coalition of nations would provide a "legal basis?"
PANETTA: We would seek whatever legal basis we would need in order to make that justified. We can't just pull them all together without getting the legal basis on which to act.
SESSIONS: I'm all for having international support, but I'm really baffled by the idea that somehow an international assembly provides a legal basis for the United States military to be deployed in combat. I don't think it's close to being correct. They provide no legal authority. The only legal authority that's required to deploy the U.S. military is the Congress and the president and the law in the Constitution.