The U.S. Constitution placed the power to make war in the hands of elected representatives in Congress. The founders feared giving war powers to an individual. Their decision leaves us, the people, to compel our Senators and Representatives to accept their responsibility.
On May 26, the U.S. House amended the Defense Authorization Act of 2012 to state that its passage in no way authorizes the current war in Libya, and to prohibit the introduction of U.S. ground troops into Libya. We must insist that the Senate uphold those amendments next week.
At the same time, the House rejected amendments that would have limited or ended U.S. warfare in Afghanistan, and rejected an amendment that would have stripped Section 1034 from the bill. That section is perhaps the most fundamental change to the structure of our federal government that has ever appeared likely to pass through Congress, as it would effectively give the power to make war to all future presidents. We must demand that the Senate remove Section 1034.
The House passed another amendment that suggests how serious some of its members are about ending the Libya War — and ending the war even without the overthrow of that nation's government. This amendment requires that “at the conclusion of the current NATO mission,” the United States military bring home the remains of 13 Americans buried in Tripoli since they died fighting in an earlier war there in 1804. This amendment assumes a mission that will not end until the U.S. military has control over Tripoli.
However, this week the House delayed voting on a resolution to end the Libya War, possibly out of concern that it might actually pass. No similar vote is planned in the Senate. Neither chamber has proposed any steps to hold anyone accountable for unconstitutional warmaking. We must push the House to vote on and pass House Concurrent Resolution 51 to end U.S. warfare in Libya.
The Libya War was sold to the public as a humanitarian intervention, although it very quickly evolved into an effort to overthrow a government, using drones that bomb civilians, and ignoring pleas for peace. This war was never sold to Congress, and has never been declared or authorized.
No legislation can legally give presidents the power to launch wars. The Constitution is higher law than any bill passed by Congress, and amending the Constitution requires the support of our representatives in our state legislatures.
Join us in committing to never accept unconstitutional war, and in making our position clear to the U.S. Senate as it prepares for important votes next week.