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The president has the authority to repel attacks, not start wars

Terence P. Jeffrey on

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's understanding of the constitutional authority of the president when it comes to using military force seems to depend on the party affiliation of the president in question.

Pelosi supported former President Barack Obama -- a Democrat -- using military force against the Libyan regime of Moammar Gadhafi without prior congressional authorization.

But she opposed President Donald Trump -- a Republican -- using military force in Iraq to kill the leaders of two State Department-designated terrorist organizations: Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran's Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, leader of Kata'ib Hezbollah.

On constitutional grounds, Pelosi was wrong both times.

In 2011, Obama used U.S. airpower to intervene in Libya's civil war on the side of rebels hoping to overthrow Gaddafi. He did not seek congressional authorization for this. Nor did Congress give it.

Instead, Obama cited a resolution by the U.N. Security Council to justify his actions.

 

"And so at my direction, America led an effort with our allies at the United Nations Security Council to pass a historic resolution that authorized a no-fly zone to stop the regime's attacks from the air, and further authorized all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people," Obama said on March 28, 2011.

Obama argued that had he not ordered the U.S. military to intervene in Libya's civil war, it would have done irreparable damage to the credibility of the U.N. Security Council -- something he could never let happen.

"The writ of the United Nations Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling that institution's future credibility to uphold global peace and security," Obama said.

Pelosi supported Obama's military intervention in Libya and his use of a resolution from the U.N. Security Council -- rather than the U.S. Congress -- to claim the authority to take that action.

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