Painful as it is to watch what dictators do, we are under no moral obligation to sacrifice American lives and fortune to take up the gun against every murderous regime. The unspoken reality at the core of Mr. Cohen’s earnest call to military action is that we act only against regimes that are incapable of hurting us when we strike. Now there is some American exceptionalism that we can sink our teeth into. We are overwhelmingly stronger than you.
A proposed Obama doctrine: If you are weak but vicious, expect to be bombed.
Robert Tenney, Gaithersburg
What the March 29 editorial “Mr. Obama speaks on Libya” and the administration’s critics seemingly fail to understand is that how Moammar Gaddafi goes, not when, will determine the ultimate success of our policy.
What seems fairly obvious to even the casual observer is that the U.S. government and our allies are doing everything they possibly can to remove Mr. Gaddafi without poisoning the core narrative that it is ultimately the Libyan people, not the allies, who must win this rebellion. The United States shows strength by giving the rebels the chance to be the heroes of their own story — this is their fight against a murderous tyrant. This means the fight may take longer, there will be uncertainty and America won’t completely control the outcome. And that’s okay.
Finally we have a nuanced, strategic foreign policy that balances risk and rewards, recognizes the views and roles of others, and aligns with our core values and long-term national interest. We should feel good that our government has not only a crystal-clear strategy but the right strategy.
Ben Powell, Washington
Contrary to the claim of David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey [“Obama’s Libyan authority,” op-ed, March 24], the U.N. charter and the Security Council resolution do not obligate the United States to use force in Libya; they merely authorize it. They cannot serve as a substitute for congressional approval for three reasons.
First, constitutionally, the House of Representatives cannot be cut out of the decision to go to war. Second, under the Supreme Court’s 2008 Medellin
ruling, the resolution and U.N. charter are non-self-executing, meaning that they are not domestic law, and the president therefore cannot rely on any power to take care that they be faithfully executed. Third, because neither is implemented by statute, the war powers resolution (in a provision that has never been challenged) precludes inferring from them any authority to use force.
What the president constitutionally needs from Congress he cannot get from the U.N. Security Council.
Michael J. Glennon, Medford, Mass.