Special to CNN
Editor's note: Julian E. Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter," published by Times Books, and "Arsenal of Democracy." The opinions in this blog are solely those of Julian Zelizer.
Many people across the political spectrum have been unhappy with President Barack Obama's decision to send American fighting forces to attack Libya. They argue that Obama failed to provide an adequate explanation for making this choice.
"Lots of confusion," said Sarah Palin, "What is the mission here in Libya?" A number of prominent Democrats have likewise wondered why the president entered this fight and said they felt Congress was not sufficiently consulted.
Sen. James Webb, D-Virginia, and a Vietnam veteran, warned that "this isn't the way our system is supposed to work." Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, called the attack an "impeachable offense" (though he later said that impeachment was not on the table).
With all the attention that is being paid to Obama's inconsistent rationales, there has been less concern about the ease with which the White House sent U.S. forces into combat. Indeed, the country seems so accustomed to presidents employing military force at their own will that there are few voices demanding democratic consent.
The dynamics surrounding Libya are not unique to the current president. Rather, they are a product of the nature of war in modern America. For decades, U.S. presidents have been willing to send significant numbers of troops and materiel into overseas conflict with great frequency.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with