June 3, 2011 | Commentary on National Security and Defense

Libya: Kucinich Turns World Upside Down, Boehner Turns It Back

Congress is ready to battle the President over his “kinetic military action” in Libya. And lawmakers have good reason to be upset.

The administration has articulated no plan for victory.  It has not identified any compelling national interest to justify the action. It has, however, put NATO’s credibility on the line and then promptly taken a back seat. Meanwhile, the “action”—President Obama said would last “days, not weeks” is into its third month, burning though millions of dollars daily.

So no surprise Congress is cranky. On Wednesday, it looked like they were so upset that the House would have passed a resolution from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio).

The world truly would have turned upside down had a House led by conservatives lined up with a congressman who thinks a national Peace Academy would make us more safe than graduates from West Point.

There are two big reasons why conservatives should have heartburn with the Kucinich resolution (H.Con.Res. 51). First, it invokes the unconstitutional “withdrawal” provisions of War Powers Resolution (often called the War Powers Act). It is never a good idea for conservatives to advocate against the powers reserved for the commander-in-chief in the Constitution. (That holds true no matter who is at the helm.)

Second, the Kucinich resolution pushes for the precipitous pullout of U.S. forces, abandoning our NATO allies on the battlefield. That’s not cool if you want to be able to count on your friends in future fights.

Speaker Boehner countered with his own resolution (H.Res. 292).  Its goal: to give members something they could vote for 1) accorded with the Constitution and 2) didn’t dump on NATO. According to The Hill, “Boehner’s proposal does not mandate a withdrawal of troops, but instead would force the White House to provide Congress with detailed information on the Libya mission, including the price tag and the administration’s justification for not seeking congressional authorization.”

Kucinich was clearly peeved at the dueling resolution idea.  Tough. The House needed a better alternative for venting its frustration.

Kucinich is dead wrong in asserting that Congress needs the authority of the War Powers Resolution to speak its mind on Libya. It always has the authority to pass a resolution expressing the will of Congress.  And it always retains responsibility for raising and maintaining the military.

Jim Carafano is the director of foreign policy studies at The Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. Vice President for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, and the E. W. Richardson Fellow

First appeared in Big Peace