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Right Turn
Posted at 01:37 PM ET, 03/25/2011

War is no place for a law professor

Keith Koffler, writing in Politico, levels some of the sharpest and most insightful criticism of the president’s mismanagement of the Libya war that we have seen to date:

What happens when academics attack? That is the question being answered as we watch the sorrowful spectacle of the allied military action against Libya unfold. …it has no clear goal, and there is already bickering within the coalition.

There also seems no coherent rationale for the plan to quickly reduce the role of U.S. forces — by far the most capable of actually getting the job done.

This after weeks of indecision about whether to launch the attack at all, during which, at the very least, contingency planning should have been done to sort out these very things.

The indecisive, dilatory and disorganized manner in which this is being executed has all the hallmarks of academia. . . .

A fast-moving military situation on the ground begs for a man of action, not a professor who gets your exams back to you late.

But Obama is stuck thinking things through. And once he comes up with something, he is trapped by a professor’s commitment to theory.

The theory was that the United States must not act militarily until it has the imprimatur of the international community, and then it must only be one random —  if important —  player among many.

Previously, this was kind of a joke that everybody got: The allies pretended to be in a coalition, and Washington ran the show and did the serious work. But Obama took it seriously.”

Koffler zeroes in on the key point about Obama’s imperious attitude toward Congress. It is not so much a legal as a political problem:

Meanwhile, atop his Ivory Tower, with his head in the clouds, Obama forgot another practical matter: He omitted consulting Congress about what he was doing.

Whether or not it is constitutional to commit an act of war against another country without some kind of affirmation from Congress is for legal scholars to decide. But the clear intent of the War Powers Clause is, at the very least, for Congress to have a significant role at the front end of military campaigns.

The law professor’s concern with making the conflict legal – by international standards, if not domestic – not only helped delay effective action, but it has now bound the commander in chief to the rules under which the action was launched.

To put it differently, Obama’s misguided view of U.S. power and unhealthy attachment to international consensus (that doesn’t exist) forces him to lie to Congress and the American people. It’s not a war. He already answered House Speaker John Boehner (R), who merely wants to know the basics. (Are we going to let Gaddafi stay? What’s the benchmark for success?). Obama’s look-ma-no-hands approach to wartime leadership has become so extreme that he can’t give a speech to the country for fear of looking like all presidents of all those “big wars.” This has become a farce — and, as Koffler argues, the reason why heading the Harvard Law Review and impressing New York Times columnists with proficiency in philosophy are not qualifications for the presidency. Maybe they are red flags.

By  |  01:37 PM ET, 03/25/2011

Categories:  President Obama

 
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