The Spectacle Blog

Unconstitutional Wars

By on 3.21.11 | 1:09PM

Unlike many other constitutional conservatives, I'm not persuaded that a congressional authorization of force is constitutionally less legitimate than a formal declaration of war (though I do think there are certain advantages to a declaration of war). I might describe Iraq as unwise or say Afghanistan has gone on too long, but I don't criticize either intervention as unconstitutional.

The Constitution clearly requires at least the authorization of force when the president is not repelling aggression against the United States. Clinton's war in Kosovo and now Obama's war in Libya don't pass that constitutional test. Tim Carney, who was no fan of the Bush foreign policy either, makes another sound point: "Bush has been called a brash cowboy, but at least he started his wars 'ex cathedra,' so to speak, conveying the gravity of war by solemnly addressing 'my fellow Americans' from the Oval Office."

UPDATE: Dave Weigel finds only a small number of congressional Republicans opposing the Libya adventure on constitutional grounds. In the 1990s, the anti-Kosovo Republicans went up as high as Tom DeLay.

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