Back to the shores of Tripoli

The Constitution makes it clear that while the president is the commander-in-chief, the Congress declares wars, and for a very good reason: Otherwise, one person – you know, like a king – can involve the nation in conflict.

Unfortunately, that’s what’s been happening since World War II. The United States has fought long-lasting wars across the planet – in Vietnam, Korea, Panama, Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq again, Libya, and elsewhere – all without a declaration of war.

Sometimes Congress has authorized the president to use force, a measure that commits troops but not the nation to battle, and we have seen the results: Half-hearted national efforts with the costs passed down to future generations.

Last week, Arkansas’ House delegation took a small step toward restoring constitutional balance by voting against a resolution supporting President Obama’s policies in Libya. The Senate is expected to take up a resolution in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Sen. Kerry that would authorize force for one year but prohibit the use of ground troops in most circumstances.

More about the issue in my Arkansas News Bureau column here.

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