David Gray Adler
History News Network
September 19, 2011

The one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter has triggered renewed interest in the constitutional issues that emerged during the Civil War. The examination has been anything but antiquarian; indeed, from coast to coast, participants in discussions and debates have wondered at the lessons and implications of the Civil War for constitutional government, American institutions, the management of national security crises and the war on terror and, particularly, executive power. The Civil War continues to resonate in our collective consciousness in a manner that surpasses our interest in the other great wars that have engulfed and defined our nation.

On March 21, President Barack Obama informed Congress that, two days earlier, U.S. forces, “at my direction,” had launched military operations against Libya to “assist an international effort authorized by the United Nations Security Council.” President Obama later announced at a news conference that Libyan leader, Moammar “Qaddafi needs to go.” Over the next several weeks, U.S. forces engaged in a series of strikes against Libyan air defense systems and military airfields for the purpose of establishing a no-fly zone.

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