From the Editors of the New York Times: It would be hugely costly — for this country’s credibility, for the future of NATO and for the people of Libya — if Congress were to force President Obama to abandon military operations over Libya. However, Mr. Obama cannot evade his responsibility, under the War Powers Act, to seek Congressional approval to continue the operation.
The White House’s argument for not doing so borders on sophistry — that “U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops,” and thus are not the sort of “hostilities” covered by the act. . . .
If Washington were to cut off its support now, the NATO campaign would unravel. The cost to relations with Europe and the unity of the military alliance would be enormous — likely felt all the way to Afghanistan.
No matter how one sees this mission, the War Powers Act is an essential balance to the White House’s — any White House’s — power to wage war. Carving out an exception for drones or airstrikes would be a dangerous precedent, especially in an era when so much fighting can be done from the air and by remote control. . . .
Partisan brinkmanship or not, Mr. Obama doesn’t have a choice. He needs to go to Congress and make his case. Congress then needs to authorize continued American support for NATO’s air campaign over Libya. (photo: Getty)