A Breakdown Of Why Libya Is Illegal But Iraq Was Not

Rep. Randy Forbes had a nice exchange with a caller on C-SPAN a few days ago explaining the questionable legality of Obama’s actions in Libya.

I pointed out that Obama actually supported the invasion of Iraq in making his case for attacks on Libya.  I broke down the Iraq/Libya comparison more here.

Today I saw this article in The Seattle Times:

Obama cannot ignore the War Powers Resolution on Libya

HOWEVER clumsy, incurious and self-serving House Republicans have been about holding past administration’s accountable for foreign conflicts, their challenge of President Obama is on target.

The writer obviously has a lack of historical knowledge, but at least some in the press are finally starting to address the fact that Obama’s actions in Libya are not legal.  And when I say not legal, I mean actually not legal.  Not the mythical, anti-war fruit not legal used to attack Bush.

My question: Where are all the anti-war fruits?

Shouldn’t they be protesting in the streets, burning Obama in effigy, and flooding the MSM with accusations of Obama’s war criminal status?  Yet, I continue to see praise, not criticism, for Obama’s stance on Libya.

Anti-War FruitNot to be confused with someone who simply opposes war.  Someone who makes false accusations in order to oppose war.  Such as … claiming a legal war is illegal in spite of the facts.

Frankly, I haven’t seen more ignorance of an issue by the left since they claimed Clinton was only impeached for getting oral sex (which was not the case).

Here’s why this is a major issue …


UN Resolution 678 authorized force to be used against Iraq for not complying with the Gulf War cease fire.  This was never altered, repealed, or replaced by subsequent resolutions.  In fact, it was upheld by each.

UN Resolution 1441 upheld the provisions of Resolution 678, and offered Iraq “a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations.”  Iraq failed to do so.  As a result, a US led coalition (larger than the first Gulf War) launched an invasion after Saddam refused to step down.  The invasion started in March 2003.

In October of 2002 (5 months prior to the invasion) the US Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.

To recap, President Bush had international authorization to use force (even though it was unnecessary), and he had full approval from Congress.  Congress also continued to approve US efforts in Iraq on an annual basis in spite of rhetoric from Democrats.


UN Resolution 1973 authorizes the use of force by member nations. Just as UN Resolution 678 did with Iraq.

Unlike Iraq, however, Obama never sought the approval of Congress to attack Libya.  This is a violation of his own political rhetoric, but it is NOT illegal.

That is, until May 20, 2011.

The War Powers Resolution of 1973 allows the President of the United States to use military force abroad for 60 days without seeking the approval of Congress.  Obama missed that deadline.  As a result, he is factually in violation of US law.

Earlier I mentioned that UN approval to use force against Iraq was unnecessary, and it was.  As it would be for the US to act against Libya, so long as Congress approved.  Moving against the will of the United Nations is not a violation of international law, it is a violation of an international agreement.  US law is the higher authority in our legal system, and that has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

Neither President Bush or Obama have violated any international treaty.

President Obama is now in violation of US law.  President Bush was never in violation of US law.  President Clinton was not in violation of US law, or international treaty when he authorized Operation Desert Fox.

Had Obama gone to Congress and asked for their approval to engage in military operations against Libya, and they approved, everything would be legal with regard to Libya.  You may disapprove of it for some moral reason, but it would still be legal.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Obama is, in fact, breaking the law by continuing to use the US military against Libya.  His supporters are continuing to show their hypocrisy by supporting him instead of protesting him as they did Bush.  And yes, this is a justifiable impeachable offense.


Posted on June 6, 2011, in Constitution, Middle East, Military, Politics, War and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I may not be as familiar with these laws as you, but what authorized action from Congress are you referring to? There is a very-loosely interpreted law that ‘allows’ the President to conduct military operations without approval from Congress. I believe it was even strengthened during the Bush administration. But irregardless of technicalities, if it was a justifiable impeachable offense, wouldn’t the GOP and teapartiers be all over this?

  2. All of the relevant laws are listed in the post. There isn’t a loosely translated law that applies. The War Powers Act is clear, and precise.

    No war powers were expanded, or loosened under Bush. Where’d you hear that?

    In regard to impeachment … Congress has chosen to pass a non-binding resolution admonishing Obama for not seeking their approval. There have been several occasions to seriously consider impeachment of presidents in our history, but it is rarely used. It’s generally believed this is due to decorum and civility.

    The tea party is completely irrelevant to the issue.

    The president breaking US law is an impeachable offense, but only the Senate has that authority. Perhaps they would impeach if the GOP had the votes to do so.

    Since Congress authorized military action in Iraq, and renewed that authority annually, Iraq was always perfectly legal. Obama never sought congressional approval. This is fine so long as the military does not engage in operations beyond 60 days. After 60 days, US law requires the president to acquire congressional approval. Obama didn’t, and thus is in violation of The War Powers Act.

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