"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation," then-presidential candidate Barack Obama said in December 2007.
What a difference a change of job title makes.
"Let's just call a spade a spade. A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya," said Defense Secretary Robert Gates three weeks before President Obama ordered a no-fly zone over -- and other military action against -- Libya.
Like many anti-Iraq War/Bush-is-a-warmonger critics, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., supports the Libyan action. Bush-hater Rachel Maddow of MSNBC rationalized that unlike the bloodthirsty President George W. Bush, you see, Obama ordered the military into action under a different "narrative" -- that is, reluctantly and without zeal. Understand?
The non-unilateralist Nobel Peace Prize laureate Obama, unlike Bush, sought no congressional war resolution. Obama, therefore, ordered military action against Libya "unilaterally" -- without the congressional approval that he once argued the Constitution demanded.
As Obama further explained in his December 2007 statement, "In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent." So a president, according to Obama, does not need congressional authority -- provided the action involves "self-defense" or "stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."
What is the "actual or imminent threat" to America posed by Libya?
Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, spooked bleep-less after our invasion of Iraq, surrendered his WMD. The dictator admitted Libya's complicity in the bombing of the Pan Am plane over Lockerbie and paid financial settlements -- after which the U.S. removed Libya from the list of terror-sponsoring states. The U.S. imports less than 1 percent of its oil from that country. What threat to national security?
Fast-forward to March 2011. Rebels threaten to topple Gadhafi's brutal regime. But the dictator fights back, and unless stopped by outsiders, his military appears poised to put down and slaughter the rebels. Enter Obama. "We cannot stand idly by," he said, "when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy."
Obama thus approves this act of war -- for (SET ITAL) humanitarian (END ITAL) purposes.