US President Barak Obama is facing sharp bipartisan criticism over the manner in which he committed his nation's forces to the international community's intervention on behalf of Libya's rebels, with members of his own party joining his detractors in the GOP.
One liberal Democratic Congressman, Dennis Kucinich, has gone so far as to suggest Obama be impeached, according to a report in Politico. Kucinich's sentiments were shared by fellow anti-war democrats Maxine Water, Sheila Jackson Lee, Jerrold Nadler, and Mike Capuano. In the past Kucinich also advocated impeaching President George W. Bush over American involvement in Iraq.
The ongoing civil war in Libya, and what action role the US should play in ending it, if any, has been hotly debated by politicians via the media, but some say there was not enough discussion in the decision making venues. The unusual addition of Obama's own party to his detractors come as US lawmakers feel Obama took it on himself to commit US forces in Libya without proper congressional participation.
Republican and Democratic Congressional lawmakers alike criticized the Obama administration for not adequately consulting with them, an issue that House Speaker John Boehner addressed over the weekend, “They consulted the Arab League. They consulted the United Nations. They did not consult the United States Congress.”
“They’re creating wreckage," Boehner continued. "And they can’t obviate that by saying there are no boots on the ground. … There aren’t boots on the ground; there are Tomahawks in the air.”
Impeachment can serve purely political - or even moral - agendas, but it is unclear what grounds Obama's detractors on Libya would cite as the basis for such a move. While the exclusive power to declare war rests with the Congress of the United States, the joint War Powers Resolution of 1973 allows a President to initiate military action of no greater duration of sixty days with the caveat that he merely notify Congress within 48 hours of its inception. At the end of the 60 day period the President must obtain congressional approval to continue or withdraw for a period of thirty days.
US Presidents have traditionally consulted in-depth with Congress before taking military action, but Obama is not the first to cut Congress out of the loop. President Bill Clinton was roundly criticized for circumventing Congressional approval when he committed US troops to peace-keeping operations in Kosovo by way of Executive Order. On the other end of the spectrum, President George W. Bush presented Congress with thousands of intelligence briefs during numerous consultations and obtained a joint resolution from both houses of the legislature before taking action in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Libya intervention, and criticism of it, comes during the early stages of Obama's re-election efforts for 2012. Loss of support from the liberal and anti-war Democrats could be problematic for the President, who heavily leveraged these groups in his fund-raising and election efforts in 2008.