United States involvement in establishing a “no-fly” zone over Libya has prompted widespread commentary from politicians and pundits — not all of it consistent. This week, we’ve tested two politicians who are on opposite sides of many issues — President Barack Obama and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — on our Flip-O-Meter.
We first looked at whether Obama flip-flopped on a principle for U.S. military interventions that he laid down as a candidate in 2007, when he mobilized U.S. forces to implement a United Nations-backed no-fly zone targeting Libya’s long-serving dictator, Moammar Gadhafi.
A reader pointed out to us a comment Obama made during a 2007 interview with Charlie Savage, then a journalist with the Boston Globe. Savage asked Obama, in part, “In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress?”
Obama responded in part, “The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
We concluded that the question boils down to whether the actions being taken in Libya “involve stopping an actual or imminent threat” to the United States. Based on our research and discussions with experts, we decided that that description did not apply to the situation in Libya. So we gave Obama a Full Flop.
- Obama vs. Gingrich: assessing their flip-flops on Libya. (slate.com)
- They Were for the War before They Were Against It (cato-at-liberty.org)