Congress canlimit presidentialdiscretion beyondits formal legalpowers.
era. During the Cold War such limited warscould be justified as a response to Soviet ag-gression. After the Soviet threat dissolved,such wars required a new justification andperhaps a different kind of practice. Here Idefine “practice” more broadly than doesthe OLC. The latter concentrates on theactions of presidents and legal replies by Congress in limited wars. That concentra-tion ignores ways Congress can limit presi-dential discretion beyond its formal legalpowers. Moreover, the OLC briefs overlookthe role of public opinion in the practice of war-making. Given the importance of publicsupport in U.S. politics, this exclusion dis-torts their account of the practices at issue.For the conflicts enumerated here, I pro- vide a brief framework for understanding eachcase and examine the actions of presidents andCongress in the context of public opinion. Ithen examine the similarities and differencesbetween Libya and the earlier cases. A strugglebetween the constitutionalist and presiden-tialist positions (positions 1 and 2 above, re-spectively) informs each case including the re-cent war in Libya. However, I argue that Libya is also different in an important way. It repre-sents an additional step toward “weak inter-nationalism” (position 3 above), a move thathas been obscured by the continuing and tra-ditional debate between the constitutionalistsand the presidentialists about the war powersclause. I then contend that weak internation-alism contravenes values central to Americanrepublicanism. This analysis closes with someproposed ways to counter this trend.
In early 1992 the ruler of Somalia, Moham-med Siad Barre, was driven from power after a 22-year reign. A civil war ensued among well-armed clans. The fighting, along with an acutedrought, led to famine. In July the United Na-tions Security Council endorsed a plan to air-lift food and medicine to Somalia. The relief effort did not work. Armed gangs stole muchof the food and medicine.
Some in Congress sought a U.S. interven-tion in Somalia. A senior Republican sena-tor, Nancy Landon Kassebaum of Kansas,called for a UN security force to protect foodshipments. A Select Committee on Hungerchaired by Democrat Tony Hall of Ohio alsofavored a UN force to protect food shipments.The George H. W. Bush administration, incontrast, said peacekeepers should not bedeployed until there was a ceasefire. In early August the Senate approved a resolution de-manding that President Bush urge the UN tosecure food shipments to Somalia. The Houseof Representatives concurred a week later.
The public was not engaged in the Somalianquestion.
The Bush administration relented slowly.In September the president announced thatfour ships and 2,100 marines would sup-ply offshore support for UN peacekeepers inSomalia.
Later in November, with no pub-lic notice, the outgoing president offered theUN Secretary General a large U.S. contingentto dampen conflict in Somalia. In DecemberBush announced that up to 28,000 U.S. sol-diers would go to Somalia as part of the UNeffort.
Bush claimed that only the UnitedStates had the resources to carry out this mis-sion to “save thousands of innocents fromdeath.”
As Bush said in his speech announc-ing the undertaking: “I can state with con-fidence we come to [Somalia] for one reasononly: to enable the starving to be fed.”
HouseSpeaker Thomas S. Foley (D-WA) agreed withBush, citing the “grave humanitarian conse-quences” of inaction.
Some important mem-bers of Congress remained cautious.
Once announced, majorities of the publicsupported the Somalian effort. From Decem-ber 1992 to March 1993, no fewer than 71percent of the public supported a relief effortinvolving American troops in that nation.
Even at the start, when support for the mis-sion was high, a strong majority said the effortshould undertake only a limited role of reliev-ing misery.
Another survey found supportfor “humanitarian assistance” and majority opposition to the United States disarming thefactions in Somalia.
A majority doubted the