Note: I sent the following letter to President Obama on Monday.
Dear President Obama,
I write with great concern over your decision to use military force in Libya.
My first and most urgent concern is with the legality of your decision. The text of the Constitution is very clear that Congress, not the President, has the authority to declare war. While no reasonable person questions the President’s authority as commander-in-chief to initiate military action in the event of a national security emergency, this is by no means a national security emergency. While Muammar Gaddafi is a mass murderer, terrorist and war criminal, his regime represents no imminent threat to our national security.
While your stated goal of protecting noncombatants is laudable, the justification of using military force for humanitarian purposes grants the President unlimited power to intervene anywhere in the world for any reason. After all, many regimes around the world mistreat their people. Do you claim the authority to intervene in any or all of those places? Furthermore, given the epidemic of sexual abuse of inmates in our nation’s prison system, would you agree that another nation has the moral authority to strike us militarily in an effort to force us to more effectively safeguard human rights here at home?
I am not a pacifist, but I recognize that war is a terrible thing. Therefore, I believe that military force should only be used to protect national security, and then should always be the last resort. We should be very reluctant to engage in combat.
When we bombed Libya in 1986, that was in retaliation for a terrorist attack on a night club in Germany that was tied directly to Gaddafi. That was necessary to protect our national security, and it should be obvious that military retaliation is necessary and proper whenever we are attacked. I believe it was a failure of leadership that we did not respond with overwhelming military force when Gaddafi ordered the bombing of Pan Am 103. Gaddafi committed a war crime, plain and simple.
As much as we may sympathize with the plight of the Libyan people, the current air strikes are not necessary to protect our national security. In fact, our military intervention will likely encourage more terrorism from the truly evil Gaddafi regime. With these air strikes, we are inserting ourselves militarily into the middle of another nation’s civil war, which is why I oppose them. As terrible as Gaddafi may be, we simply cannot be the world’s policeman.
Bombing Libya in the 1986 was a good idea, but bombing Libya in 2011 is not. I strongly urge you to immediately end military operations in Libya.