It was thus fittingly symbolic that when Barack Obama announced he had ordered the U.S. military to intervene in Libya's civil war, he did not do so from the Oval Office or the well of the U.S. House of Representatives, but from the capital city of Brazil.
In that speech, delivered March 19, 2011, Obama repeatedly used the first-person pronoun, I, in explaining who had decided America would intervene in Libya.<p> "Today I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians," Obama said.
"I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice, and it's not a choice that I make lightly," said Obama.
On what authority had I, Barack Obama, taken America into war?
"In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition that is committed to enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for the protection of the Libyan people," Obama said from Brazil.
"Actions have consequences, and the writ of the international community must be enforced," he said. "That is the cause of this coalition."
The U.N. Security Council's permanent members include not only the United States, France and Great Britain, but also Russia and the People's Republic of China, which, according to Obama's State Department, is still governed by communists. In 2011, the Security Council also included Bosnia and Herzegovina, Columbia and Gabon, Nigeria and Lebanon, Portugal and South Africa, and the government of Brazil, which hosted Obama's war announcement.
Obama's case was plain: The governments of these nations -- not the constitutionally elected representatives of the American people -- had given him authority to decide whether America would go to war in Libya, and he had decided America would go to war in Libya.
In a speech delivered from the White House a day before his speech from Brazil, Obama spoke of Libya's revolutionaries as if they shared the perspective of America's Founding Fathers.
"Last month, protesters took to the streets across the country to demand their universal rights and a government that is accountable to them and responsive to their aspirations," he said.