Dissent on Libya

Tim Carney on Libya:

Setting aside the wisdom of the intervention, Obama's entry into Libya's civil war is troubling on at least five counts. First is the legal and constitutional question. Second is the manner of Obama's announcement. Third is the complete disregard for public opinion and lack of debate. Fourth is the unclear role the United States will play in this coalition. Fifth is the lack of a clear endgame. Compounding all these problems is the lack of trust created by Obama's record of deception.

To see Carney expand on those points, read the whole thing. As far as the wisdom of the intervention goes, I'm happy to see some figures who ordinarily are allied with Obama, such as Josh Marshall and Andrew Sullivan, pointing out the problems with America's latest war. Sullivan's piece, in particular, may be the best thing he's written since the last time he lost his passion for a president.

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  • ||

    Sullivan is not even sure why people ever voted for Obama. My God that bastard's misery is enjoyable.

  • Jeffersonian||

    I expected to see him in a neck brace from the whiplash of his changes in direction.

  • ||

    And Marshall and Sullivan and their ilk need to get back into the car and shut up before Obama slaps them again. What are they going to do? Vote Republican? Run back to Nader? Fat chance.

    And there is no way in hell the guilty white left will ever torpedo the country's first black President. So what does it matter what they are saying now?

  • Tim||

    Got ilk?

  • Rich||

    there is no way in hell the guilty white left will ever torpedo the country's first black President

    Well, ... he *is* half-white.

  • ||

    Can they get him with half a torpedo?

  • Cytotoxic||

    Half-wit is more like it.

  • Spoonman.||

    There is no imaginable justification to intervene in Libya over North Korea, certainly. And aren't we sorta already at war with North Korea?

    I'd love to see Gaddaffi go, but I don't see how we can possibly guarantee that without a ground force. This is pointless.

  • Draco||

    Not that I disagree with your conclusion, but your reasoning is atrocious. NK is a totalitarian state of 24 millions of near starved citizens and hundreds of thousands under arms, adjacent to a thriving and important center of capitalism and trade. Libya is a string of coastal towns connected by one road with 6.5 million people and a few mercenaries, adjacent to two other relative non-entities.

    Intervening in Libya is far easier than intervening in the PRK.

  • ||

    Well, the weaker an opponent is, the lower the bar for attacking them.

    Funny, though, that I never hear anyone actually say "Well, they're weak" as one of the justifications for attacking someone.

    Aren't we really just saying that, at some level, our purported "principles" for bombing a country are pretextual, since they only seem to apply when the country is weak? Are they really principle if you only follow them when its easy?

  • DNS||

    Funny, though, that I never hear anyone actually say "Well, they're weak" as one of the justifications for attacking someone.

    It does make the anti-bully rhetoric of recent yore seem a bit hollow and self-serving now, doesn't it?

  • ||

    Funny, though, that I never hear anyone actually say "Well, they're weak" as one of the justifications for attacking someone.

    Unless you're watching Yes, (Prime) Minister, that is.

  • Sudden||

    Aren't we really just saying that, at some level, our purported "principles" for bombing a country are pretextual, since they only seem to apply when the country is weak? Are they really principle if you only follow them when its easy?

    Exactly. And this is precisely why we didn't attack Iran for essentially doing the same thing and firing on its citizens when they protested a year or two back. And from a foreign policy "realist" perspective (albeit I don't fancy myself such), the real troubling part of this is that we're attacking with the intent to depose the guy who cooperated with us and turned over his WMD programs, while we were too pussy scared to go after the guys who told us to fuck off cuz they wanted their nukes. Hence, all we've managed to do is completely derail our non-proliferation efforts and informed the world's tyrants that if they want to remain in power, they need to spite us and if they want to get toppled, they need to obey us. Its fucking lunacy in that regard.

  • ||

    Publically, the Miss Universe and such is based on talent, charm, poise.

    How often do you hear the judges say I want her to win because she looks like a great f*ck and because of her wonderful tits and great ass? NEVER, because it is sheer coincidence that the girl with the most poise and charm has wonderful tits and a great ass...
    SHEER COINCIDENCE...

  • sasob||

    But they all have wonderful tits and a great ass. And a pretty face and nice legs.

  • ||

    Shorter version: "One does not simply walk into Mordor."

    But what is our 'exit strategy'?
    What is even our measure of success?
    A dead Quaddaffi? Then let the Arabs or Europeans deal with the mess, distruction and squabbling factions afterward?

  • Spoonman.||

    That's exactly my point. We're intervening in Libya because it's weak, not because the Gaddaffi regime is particularly evil.

  • ||

    No. We are intervening in Libya because refugees were showing up on Italian shores. That is what this is about. It is about stopping a refugee crisis in Europe. If Libya were further south and too far for refugees to make it to Europe, no one would care.

  • kinnath||

    Sounds like Italy has a problem.

  • Sub-Saharan African Dictator||

    Yeah, pretty much.

  • Spoonman.||

    Entirely possible, but an equally poor justification.

  • Italy||

    No. We are intervening in Libya because refugees were showing up on Italian shores. That is what this is about.

    Exactly. That's why we wanted the United States to attack Libya. We're broke.

  • ||

    Next season of Jersey Shore is being filmed there, and we just can't have these kind of people washing up in the background.

  • Tncm||

    I know this is completely anal of me, but the acronym for North Korea is technically "DPRK", as the country's legal name is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

    And to answer your question, we were technically never at war with North Korea to begin with (it falls under the branch of "police action"). But the North and the South have only signed a cease-fire, not a peace treaty, so they are still technically at war.

  • .||

    To be more anal, DPRK an acronym is not.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Intervening in Libya is far easier than intervening in the PRK.

    And picking on a kid in a wheelchair is far easier than picking on a kid with all of his limbs intact.

  • Apogee||

    And picking on a kid in a wheelchair is far easier than picking on a kid with all of his limbs intact.

    ...Who has an older brother (who is a LOT bigger than you) that might be nervous about you picking on his younger brother. Also, it might be a great way for said big brother to distract the family from his bad report card.

    Anyone speaking of dealing with NoKo had better mention the PRC connection as well, as it is entirely the deciding factor in any strategic planning, military or political.

  • ||

    What did it ever matter what they were saying? Aside from confirming the previously held beliefs of those who already agreed with them, this too will pass as just another moment of their spitting into the wind...or with it.

  • ||

    america standing is NOT advanced by ignoring the requests for help fm our arab & nato allies then doing nothing to stop while another SREBRENICA massacre in bengazi.

  • Jeffersonian||

    In case you had forgotten, Orrin, the Srebrenic massacre occurred well after the intervention of the "international community." In fact, it occurred in an area said community had declared to be a safe zone for Bosnians.

  • Tim||

    You've found a war you like then?

  • #||

    it's amazing how partisan war politics is. Since Vietnam, there has not been a coherant foreign policy philosophy for either party. In practice, which ever party holds the white hosue goes to war in the name of spreading democracy and peace keeping, while the oposition critisizes it. And as evidence, here all the partisan hacks jump on board.

  • Team Blue||

    War is okay if it benefits Team Blue!

  • munitions manufacturers||

    War is good for business.

  • Unions||

    War is good for business.

    This war is about jobs, jobs, jobs.

  • DNS||

    Sullivan's piece, in particular, may be the best thing he's written since the last time he lost his passion for a president.

    So Lil' Andy Sullivan has quit obsessing over Palin's vagina and redirected his mad journo skillz at The Obama's mangina? Well, that's certainly an improvement, I guess.

  • Damian P.||

    So, when does Sullivan demand that the Obamas produce hospital records regarding the birth of Sasha and Malia?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Those poor kids. God knows they'll never ave normal lives.

  • ||

    And yet Charlie Sheen's kids are taken away and Obama's are still in the White House.

  • Jeffersonian||

    I'm of the view that it's never an illegitimate use of power to depose a murderous tyrant, but there is such a thing as whether it is wise to do so.

  • Tim||

    It remains to be seen whether the power has deposed, or will depose him. We chased Saddam for how many years?

  • Jeffersonian||

    Only about nine months from the date of the OIF invasion, during which time he was only effectively in power for about two weeks.

  • ||

    True but that was only after we took and armored corps and shoved it up his ass. He was in very effective power for the 12 years before that when all we did was enforce a no fly zone. I suspect Gadafi will do the same.

  • ||

    Except Moe G got terrorists and he's not afraid to use 'em. I can imagine the UN dithering for twelve years while he blows up airliners.

  • robc||

    Its never illegitimate to use your own power to depose a murderous tyrant, but when you use someone else's, the calculus changes. And Obama aint going to Tripoli himself.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Wellll...maybe. I don't expect Obama to strip to the waist and engage in hand-to-hand combat with Big Moe on a sand dune. But I do expect him to articulate a reason why we're going after this particular thug at this particular time, what "success" means, what the chances of attaining said success are and, most importantly, who's going to be taking over the shop when we're gone.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    Pay Per View revenue would be huge.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    I suppose you could make an argument for that if things were as simple as deposing the bad guy. There's also the question of who will replace him. Will they be any better? And how long do we have to stay around to make sure things don't devolve into chaos when we leave?

  • robc||

    how long do we have to stay around to make sure things don't devolve into chaos when we leave?

    Not our problem.

    I opposed Iraq, but once we went in, we should have left about 5 minutes after Saddam was dead.

    And left Aghanistan when the last Talibani had fled across the border.

    If they come back, we can too.

  • Jeffersonian||

    There's a lot to be said for this.

  • Concerned citizen||

    Absolutely

  • T||

    I'm completely in favor of the punitive expedition approach.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Say what you want about the heads-on-pikes, sow-the-fields-with-salt approach, but it was effective and cheap.

  • ||

    And it's the way we still do it with pirates on the open ocean. What have we got against pirates as compared to the rest of the people of the world? The way they talk?

  • J_L_B||

    And left Aghanistan when the last Talibani had fled across the border.

    If they come back, we can too.

    That would repeat itself over and over again over decades.

  • kinnath||

    It would be a lot cheaper to just send that fat Aussie kid over to body slam Gaddafi.

  • BakedPenguin||

    FTW...

  • Casey the Punisher||

    If he dies, mate, he dies.

  • cynical||

    It's never an illegitimate use of one's own power, but the power of the United States is loaned to the president with terms, terms which he violated by using it in this fashion. I've fucking love to see Republicans impeach him over this (oh, the hilarity. At least they can't say it was trivial like the blowjob thing.)

  • ||

    These quotes are like chimps in suits. They never get old. They are always funny.

    In October 2007, Obama proclaimed, “I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.” Speaking of Iraq in February 2008, candidate Barack Obama said, “I opposed this war in 2002. I will bring this war to an end in 2009. It is time to bring our troops home.” The following month, under fire from Hillary Clinton, he reiterated, “I was opposed to this war in 2002….I have been against it in 2002, 2003, 2004, 5, 6, 7, 8 and I will bring this war to an end in 2009. So don’t be confused.”

    Indeed, in his famous “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow” speech on the night he clinched the Democratic nomination, he also proclaimed, “I am absolutely certain that generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that . . . this was the moment when we ended a war.”

    http://www.britannica.com/blog.....-movement/

  • Rich||

    chimps in suits

    Red Rose! Red Rose!

    Also, racist.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Of course it's racist, that's why it's so funny, though I have to admit I was hoping for a vintage Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp clip.

  • ||

    Have some opening credits.

  • Jeffersonian||

    My hero!!

  • DNS||

    I'm glad he's so cool under pressure. All detached and compartmentalizy. And so pragmatic! To think I doubted him...

  • David Brooks||

    And did you see the crease today? [swoon!]

  • Number 2||

    John, the campaign is over.

  • ||

    No, I think there's an endless supply of these quotes where Obama has totally reversed himself. We're now 25 months into his Presidency and THIS comes up just now? I don't care how many times he's 'pre-denounced' himself, it's still entertainment when it happens again.

  • Warty||

    "this was the moment when we ended a war.”

    Delicious.

  • Children||

    “I am absolutely certain that generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that . . . this was the moment when we ended a war.”

    Were you talking to us?

  •  ||

    the complete disregard for public opinion and lack of debate

    "Disregard for public opinion" is a stretch (opinions are like assholes, after all) but "a lack of debate"? Hardly.

  • Rich||

    Right. We're discussing it now, aren't we?

  • DNS||

    Right. We're discussing it now, aren't we?

    We had to join the conflict to find out what's in it...

  • .||

    What's in it for us is what I'd like to know.

  • ||

    Interestingly (to me anyway) that a quick glance over at DailyKOS shows almost no discussion of Libya. NCAA brackets have more comments there.

  • sevo||

    "Interestingly (to me anyway) that a quick glance over at DailyKOS shows almost no discussion of Libya. NCAA brackets have more comments there."

    Graveyards, whistling.

  • nekoxgirl||

    Yeah I noticed that too. There were a few anti-war on Libya blogs a few days ago but they seem to have mostly ignored and pushed off the front page.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Denial is a hell of a drug.

    Huffingpainters are divided between "WTF Obama?!" and "Support the President or you're a traitor!"

  • Paul||

    Not a lot of talk on the libya page, but in the sidebar, I sore this:

    Arab League Condemns "Bombardment of Civilians" Amid Suggestions Obama Could Be Impeached Over Libya

    So I had to read the comments:

    The Arab League still supports the no-fly zone. What they condemned is specifically civilian casualties through our actions, which so far there hasn't been any evidence of (unless you believe Libyan State TV propaganda).
    "We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately." - Benjamin Franklin
    [...]
    casualties, it is not unexpected when allied military are taking out anti-aircraft and other legitimate targets. Did the head of the Arab League actually think we would implement a no-fly zone and "not" bomb anti-aircraft sites?
    [...]
    I should post a recipe, but I'm a teacher and this (27+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:second gen, phenry, madmsf, jfromga, stegro, bosshogg, rudewarrior, bobsc, Bensonola, RichM, Catte Nappe, MBNYC, Rustbelt Dem, Coldblue Steele, Kimberley, cryonaut, YatPundit, CaptUnderpants, elborba, Trix, Fogiv, psilocynic, Egalitare, KayCeSF, ricky57, ekyprogressive, duckhunter
    guy needs an education.

    To wit:

    WAR POWERS ACT of 1973.

    1. Congress needs notification of an action 48 hours before.

    I seem to remember Congressional Leadership being briefed at the White House on FRIDAY.

    2. Congressional "Authorization" needs to be made WITHIN 60 DAYS.

    So the law is being followed. Look for NATO and others to be taking the lead within a few days.
    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White
    [...]
    This is why...I can never take Kucinich seriously.
    [...]
    He's not going to be impeached for this because he has not broken the law. He has 60 days before he needs to get approval from congress.
    [...]
    Now I could be wrong, but I have a feeling had Obama done nothing and the rebels were over-run and Gaddafi remained in power, cracking down even harder in the ensuing months. This same diarist would be screaming at the top of his lungs about how Obama did nothing, but sit back and watch. Telling us how that isn't leadership.

    Dithering is what happened to the anti-war movement. It never was about war, it was whether or not the president followed proper Union Procedure when going to war.

  • Paul||

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    "a lack of debate"? Hardly.

    So when was this secret meeting with Congress to declare war on Libya that no one but you seems to know about?

  • DJF||

    The talking heads in the media and foreign policy establishment talked about it, that’s what suppose to equal a national debate about going to war.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Later in the article, Carney is more specific about what he's referring to:

    Obama pledged to be more deliberative than Bush, but on Libya, any deliberation mostly excluded the public and Congress.

    The prospect of U.S. military intervention in Libya first arose weeks ago, when an all-out civil war erupted there. Yet Obama never pushed the issue until after his U.N. ambassador voted for the use of force at the Security Council. Obama never tried to cultivate American support for a third war. While Cameron defended his position during question time in Parliament, Obama merely sent a few aides to Capitol Hill.

  • ||

    Coe on Jesse, Obama had other important stuff to do like play golf and fill out his NCAA bracket. It just took him a while to find the time to deal with the Libya situation.

  •  ||

    Don't forget all the "debate" that took place on The Twitter and The Facebook! It's my impression that social networks have largely supplanted deliberative bodies. That's what I learned on H&R. No?

  • ||

    Tony and 37 other people Like this.

  •  ||

    Yay!

    Follow me!

  • db||

    I'm fine with the idea of new bills and regulations being subject to a 140 character limit.

  •  ||

    That's change I can believe in!

  • ||

    Considering Congress would probably do a better job if they were selected at random from the phone book rather than elected, it's not like a Facebook/Twitter debate is far inferior to one on the floor of the Senate.

  •  ||

    Twitter can't declare war. Yet.

  • Brett L||

    Congressional debates dont use the word 'douchebag' enough. As in "the esteemed douchebag from Alabama doesn't have a fucking clue what he's talking about."

  • ||

    I think America needs to mind its own business. Now they are off to spend more endless billions in yet another place they have no business.

    www.real-privacy.it.tc

  • DNS||

    Now they are off to spend more endless billions in yet another place they have no business.

    You're just mad because of the proposed cuts in Skynet funding, AnonBot.

  • ||

    Wow, anon bot got something right.

  • SFC B||

    Anonbot gets disturbing sometimes.

  • Tim||

    The Obama position:

    "Kick their ass (but don't) take their gas!"

  • Jeffersonian||

    It's only when we can show that America has absolutely nothing to gain that it's okay to bomb the snot out of someone.

  • DJF||

    Its called altruism, but usually its about someone wanting to “do something” and make themselves feel better because they have done something. Whether or not it actually helps the situation is not really important.

  • Rich||

    Reassurance, from yesterday's Meet The Press.

    MR. GREGORY: Is this in our vital interest as a country?

    ADM. MULLEN: It's--I think the president's made it very clear that our national interests are tied to a country that is so close to us in the Mediterranean, that borders Egypt and Tunisia, two countries that are also undergoing significant change as we speak, and clearly, the focus on the humanitarian piece in terms of someone who has massacred his people in the past and preventing that. In that regard, it is.

  • ||

    Not to put too fine a point on it...WTF?

    This Mullen person - he can't be from the killin' navy. He must be from the p***y navy - the one they show in all the recruiting commercials delivering food and evacuating hapless little brown people from their sorry, f***ed-up little countries.

    I know the killin' Navy's involved in this somehow. There's been, like, bombs and stuff. Who's in charge of them and what's he got to say?

  • DJF||

    So the President thinks this and Mullens is going along.

    “””’that is so close to us in the Mediterranean”””

    Somebody better get Adm Mullens a map, the Mediterranean is not close to the United States. Unless of course the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff think that us means something other then the United States

  • ||

    We bought Italy last week.

  • Brett L||

    Its amazing what you can get for a dozen underage prostitutes and a villa in Italy.

  • ||

    We saw the opening and took it. Besides, if we didn't, someone else would've--they were auctioning it on eBay.

  • Obama Marcos||

    It looks like a boot. I had to have it.

  • Russia||

    Then you'll be interested in Novaya Zemyla.

  • pancakes||

    omg! the other boot! I was looking for that.

  • Neu Mejican||

    tied to a country that is so close to us in the Mediterranean

    Is he referring to our close ties with Libya rather than physical distance? Or is "us" about the US and her allies? Or is "close to us" referring to how close Libya is to that air craft carrier group we just moved to the northern coast of Africa?

  • ||

    It's near our Empire, silly. We must protect Suez at all costs!

  • ||

    I think the copyright on the Marine Corp hymn was expiring.

    Use it or lose it.

  • Neu Mejican||

    The Halls of Montezuma need to be on guard.

  • ||

    Aztec menace must be thwarted!

  • Ice Nine||

    I think I must have slept through a geography lesson in 7th grade or something.

  • Brian D||

    "ADM. MULLEN: It's--I think the president's made it very clear that our national interests are tied to a country that is so close to us in the Mediterranean,"

    In certain terms, the Mediterranean Sea is actually very close to the United States. Certainly much closer than the Sea of Tranquility, for example.

  • ||

    Are we bombing the Sea of Tranquility?

  • Brett L||

    Nuke the Moon time again? I think we should wait until closer to the election.

  • ||

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    It's never too soon.

  • The Gobbler||

    +238,855 miles

  • mike||

    The Canadiam PM: ``We should not kid ourselves. Whenever you engage in military action - essentially acts of war - these are difficult situations,'' Harper said.

    Heaven forbid anyone in the US (excepting perhaps the Sec Def) call this an act of war which must be authorized by the congress critters first. This can't even fall under the 'war powers' act as there was no pressing danger to the US or our interests.

  • ||

    I know this is a cliche but, "War powers? We don't need no stinkin' war powers!"

    This conflict falls under the "Obama Can Do No Wrong Act of 2008." This supplanted the "Everything Bush Does Is Wrong Act of 2003."

    Don't second-guess the President! He's better educated than anyone, he has greater intellectual curiosity and critical thinking skills than any other president in history, and he's clean and well-spoken to boot! So just watch it... :-)

  • Negro dialect||

    What about me!

  • DJF||

    I would add “Sixth, We have no idea who the rebels are and what they want to accomplish”

  • Admiral Akbar||

    Wouldn't it be fucking cunning if there are no rebels but Mo got all the people to start a kerfuffle to draw us in and then Biggity Bam! Stage dive!

  • M G/K||

    Psst! Ix-nay on illing-spay the eans-bay.

  • mr simple||

    So you're saying it's a trap?

  • Admiral Akbar||

    I really just wanted to say "kerfuffle."

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Admiral, what if it's a trap?

  • Draco||

    Over at The Corner, Robert Costa has a post reviewing the Will-Wolfowitz exchange over getting involved in Libya. The more and more libertarian George Will (pace Murray Rothbard) takes the side of staying the hell out.

  • creech||

    I certainly hope Ron Paul is introducing a bill of impeachment in the House at the first opportunity.

  • ||

    His M.O. has been to introduce a declaration of war, but of course sarcasm is lost on members of Congress.

  • Fluffy||

    I find all the critiques of the Libya intervention I've seen posed lately to have a lot of merit, but you know what?

    Whenever any conservative talking head on TV poses any of them, they should be forced to wear a fucking sign disclosing each time they ever, EVER, said of W: "It's our duty to support the President in wartime" or words to that effect.

    Scumbags. Shameless scumbags.

  • ||

    It is true. You should support the President. I am laughing at liberals, not the President. Regardless of what I think about this, I sure as hell hope it works out well. If this thing is a wild success and ends in two weeks with peace love and liberty in Libya and Obama gets all the credit, I won't complain and will be happy it worked out that way.

  • ||

    When your football team's coach decides to go for it on 4th & 3 rather than kicking a field goal, the fact that you hope they pick up the yardage doesn't mean you "support the coach". There's plenty of real estate between support for the leader and ill-will for that which he leads.

  • Cytotoxic||

    You should support the President.

    Oh Christ John please tell me you're being sarcastic or zombified by an uber-patriotic headcrab.

  • ||

    You should support the President.

    And.Why.The.Fuck.Should.I.Feel.The.Need.To.Do.That..?.

  • ||

    And you are a shamless scumbag for having wet dreams about US defeat in Iraq or Libya. Fuck that shit.

  • Fluffy||

    I just wanted to abandon Iraq when the sunk cost fallacy came into play.

    And I didn't particularly care much one way or the other what happened to Iraq afterwards.

    It's your own fucking problem if you define that as "defeat".

    When you show up and start blubbering about how any step backwards from a bad cost is "defeat" and hurts your manhood, you don't get to expect me to automatically go along.

    The size of our nuclear arsenal means that no matter what happens in any conflict anywhere, "We meant to do that" is the last word. Viet Nam, Iraq, wherever.

  • robc||

    Saddam is dead, the Taliban is out of power. I dont know how either could be called defeats no matter what happens after we leave.

  • ||

    Perhaps in the General Clinton sense, after Bunker Hill.

    "It was a dear-bought victory; another such would have ruined us."

  • ||

    Or in the sense that buying something on sale is saving money. Buy enough shit on sale and you've saved a fortune.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Iraq just needs another Pan-Arab Socialist military dictator to step in once the US pulls up stakes and leaves and the Taliban have outright stated that they're willing to wait the US out.

    If the situation will return to what it was prior to American intervention, only with new faces, how can it be called victory?

  • Pip||

    Because Uday and Qusay are dead.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    What about the third son, Ali? We should launch a missile into Switzerland, just to wipe out all of Saddam's male progeny.

    Plus, hat tricks are totally cool.

  • Number 2||

    On the other hand, any liberal talking head who supports this should be similarly required to disclose the number of times they said "War is not the answer" and that invading a sovereign country is a war crime.

  • ||

    How about this, Fluffs? We tried to tell 'em "support the President in wartime" but they overruled us. If the Dems/libs/socialists/whoever had taken our advice, we might not be ripping their Golden Boy a new one right now. The foaming-at-the-mouth Left made the new rules - we're just following them.

  • Fluffy||

    What new rules?

    As far as I am concerned, questioning the President every step of the way has always been the rule.

    The problem with "Wah! They did it first!" is that if the argument against questioning the President during wartime was ever valid even a little, it's always valid and can't be cancelled out by the conduct of any particular party. To argue otherwise you'd have to also say that since the Rosenbergs were traitors, now anyone can be. Hey, the Rosenbergs made the new rules - we're just following them.

  • ||

    Most of 'em now are saying that they support the President, and even generally approve of tactics (some dissenters like Dick Lugar, Chaffetz of Utah, etc.), but are concerned about Congress being left out of the loop.

    Which makes them shameless in a way, yes, but part of the genius of the American system of separation of powers is using petty jealousies of politicians to preserve liberty.

  • ||

    Bush got Congressional approval for both Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • ||

    He did. But a declaration of war, he never got, which is why no one can say we are winning or losing. It's a neverending clusterfuck of stupid and at some point it needs to stop. When the US declares war, we win them. When we don't, we lose, maybe not the battles but we definitely lose something and I'm not talking about pride.

  • Shannon Love||

    Since World War II, the executive branch has steadily grabbed more war powers, and Congress has supinely acquiesced. Truman, Johnson, Reagan, Clinton and Bush all fought wars without a formal declaration, but at least Bush used force only after Congress authorized it.

    Stuff and nonsense. The problem here is that prior to the 1960s, every use of military force wasn't defined as a "war." Presidents, and prior to radio individual military commanders, used to initiate the use of force on their sole discretion. Wars were overt legal conflicts between state actors. Chasing pirates/bandits/raiders, securing the lives and property of citizens in a foreign civil disturbance or rendering humanitarian assistance weren't considered "wars" and therefore required no senatorial oversight.

    Do you think 19th century US Naval commanders waited a year for a packet ship to carry a message to and back from Washington before going after a bunch of pirates? Hell, ship captains used to kick a few dozen marines ashore in some godforsaken backwater and tell them to sort out the local civil war while making sure to be back before the tide turned.

    The idea that we can all set down and have a little talk every time a soldier flips his rifles safety off is purely a late 20th century invention made even theoretically possible only by instant global communications. In the past, the idea would have been laughable. It still is although for reasons of speed rather than communications.

    Any real oversight over the President's war powers went up in smoke when we granted the President the sole authority to launch every nuclear weapon we had and thereby fry the entire ecosphere of the earth. Once you've granted the President the right to vaporize the entire world, bitching and moaning about him Libya seems a little silly.

    The nuclear launch authority and by extension the authority to launch virtually any attack anywhere at a moments notice was necessitated by the speed at which modern warfare progresses. Only sleepy academics still live in a world in which there is actually time to fully debate every real-world military action. As a practical matter, only pre-emptive/optional wars can be debated at all. When the sh*t really hits the fan, there isn't time for debate at all.

    So, at best we can only have debates about Goldilocks wars. Both the big world changing wars and the piss ant stuff like piracy will happen to fast for a real debate. Only the "wars" that happen to have a long lead up will have any real debate.

    As usually, the physical realities of time, geography and technology have thrown real-world grit into our nice Constitutional abstractions.

  • ||

    Whatever the status of chasing pirates, etc., Shannon, this is a military assault on a foreign nation. If bombing the Libyan army and capital isn't an act of war, nothing is.

    And postponing the debate until its too late doesn't justify not having a debate.

  • Shannon Love||

    You know I just wanted to point out that the idea that these types of actions are historically unprecedented is rather silly and ahistorical. They are in fact the historical norm.

    Whether they are wise or not was not really my point. I just object to the pants-wetting hysteria that nothing like this has ever happened before every time a President goes cowboy. The vast majority of US military actions were initiated by the executive branch without consultations with congress so it's nothing new.

  • Fluffy||

    As usual, Shannon Love is an idiot.

    The President always possessed the authority to direct the military to respond to invasion by a foreign power without first obtaining a DoW from Congress. So the power to launch retaliatory strikes with nukes was not in any remote way, shape or form new.

    As a practical matter, only pre-emptive/optional wars can be debated at all.

    You mean like this one? And once again, there was never a need for a DoW for military action in response to attacks on US territory anyway. So nothing has changed.

    Responding to piracy on the open seas is a law enforcement function and not a use of the war power.

    "The speed at which modern warfare progresses" is a pretty extreme canard. Prepositioning men and equipment for the invasion of Iraq took almost a year. There's no time to pursue a DoW over the course of a year?

  • Shorter Shannon DNS Love||

    "Shoot first and ask questions later, expediency demands it!"

  • LibertyMark||

    By Shannon's own definitions, this "war" is precisely the kind that demands debate: no attack had occurred on the United States, there was no threat of imminent attack, there was no self-defense justification at all.

    So all of Shannon's apologetics for unchecked war-making do not apply.

  • ||

    True. I don't think we ever declared war on Nicaragua or Guatemala or China or the Philippines or (in Pancho Villa days) Mexico - but we still "intervened militarily" in those countries. I'm not sure people understand the whole "declaration of war" concept.

  • Brett L||

    Philippines was part of the Spanish-American War. War was authorized by Congress after the destruction of the USS Maine. Pancho Villa was raiding in the US from Mexican bases. Attacks on US soil.

  • robc||

    5 true Declarations of War in US history:

    War of 1812
    Mexican-American War
    Spanish-American War
    World War 1
    World War 2

    And an interesting bit from wikipedia:

    James Madison reported that in the Federal Convention of 1787, the phrase "make war" was changed to "declare war" in order to leave to the Executive the power to repel sudden attacks but not to commence war without the explicit approval of Congress.

  • Old Mexican||

    Short version:
    Undeclared war is justified because it's Obama.

    Anybody else in power, and SL would not be so cavalier about the Executive having absolute power.

  • ||

    Only sleepy academics still live in a world in which there is actually time to fully debate every real-world military action. As a practical matter, only pre-emptive/optional wars can be debated at all. When the sh*t really hits the fan, there isn't time for debate at all.

    Naval vessels scoured the Pacific around Hawaii looking for Japanese vessels to engage while Congress was asleep on Dec 7, 1941. I have no problem with any military action against them during the time it took to get Congress in session.

    But they did eventually get in session and declared war.

    You can't plausibly argue that Congress simply didn't have a chance to declare war in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, or either Gulf War.

    Also note that the only time in the history of the US where there was a crisis demanding immediate military action before Congress could convene was the attack on Pearl Harbor. Every other war we've fought was started by us (1812, Mexican, Gulf Iⅈ, Afg) or joined in support of a weakening ally (WW1, Vietnam, Korea).

  • ||

    Am I the only who remembers earnest protestations as recently as last Friday that America would be involved only in a support role? That other countries would do the actual bombing?

    Question: if attacking a foreign country without Congressional authorization, and without even the fig leaf of self-defense, isn't an impeachable offense, what is?

    I understand why the Repubs don't want to push this: they would not vote against bombing Libya, and are perfectly happy to leave no fingerprints at all on this war. Of course, that is just as much a dereliction of duty as the Democrat's refusal to pass a budget last year, and just as despicable.

    Worst. Political. Class. In. History.

  • kinnath||

    I look forward to seeing hippies carrying "no blood for oil" signs on the street starting later today.

  • Kolohe||

    they it did over the weekend.
    (it was mostly still about the Iraq war, but, baby steps)

  • ||

    RC Democrats don't need Congressional authorizations to start wars. That is just Republican Presidents who need that silly. Did Clinton ever get one for Kosovo? I don't think he did. But I could be mistaken.

  • DNS||

    oDid Clinton ever get one for Kosovo?

    He did not. Nor did he get Congressional approval for Darfur either. Come to think of it, he failed to have UN blessing for either as well.

  • ||

    Congress actually debated Kosovo and refused to authorize it.

    Reagan did get a joint declaration of Congress for Grenada.

  • Draco||

    But, DNS, Clinton never wore a cowboy hat, and W did - frequently.

  • ||

    Also in fairness to BO the magnificant or Hillary or whoever the hell is in charge right now, I think it depends on how long this goes on.

    I think the President does have the right to engage. But he doesn't have the right to continue without some kind of Congressional authorization. If this thing ends next week, I hardly see the Constitutional foul. If it is going on a month from now, then yes, Congress better approve.

  • ||

    I think the President does have the right to engage. But he doesn't have the right to continue without some kind of Congressional authorization.

    John, are you seriously taking the position that the President has the right to start a war, as opposed to defend the US from attack, without any Congressional authorization?

  • ||

    Not every conflict is a "war" within the meaning of the Constitution. Did Clinton need Congressional authorization to fire cruise missiles at Bin Ladin? Or Reagan to bomb Libya in 1986? I don't think so.

    Presidents throughout American history have used military force in limited measures without the approval of Congress. You think that is wrong. But so what? The Constitution and its meaning are also created by practice and custom. And we have 200 years of practice and custom that say you are wrong.

  • Fluffy||

    "I am hell bent on justifying the President's imperial powers [as long as it's not Obama] and if the words I use to do that undermine every argument I've ever made on any domestic issue, I don't give a shit!" - John

    John, you realize, don't you, that if custom and practice make the President's unilateral use of "minor" force constitutional, that custom and practice justify the current use of the interstate commerce clause, too, and justify the current state of gun control, and everything else the federal government does that you don't like?

  • Neu Mejican||

    John, you realize, don't you, that if custom and practice make the President's unilateral use of "minor" force constitutional, that custom and practice justify the current use of the interstate commerce clause, too, and justify the current state of gun control, and everything else the federal government does that you don't like?

    Doesn't make his argument incorrect, of course, just inconvenient. (opinions will differ as to whether it is correct, of course, but...)

  • ||

    His argument IS incorrect.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Some would disagree. You would need to bring additional arguments to bare to prove your case.

  • Apogee||

    additional arguments...

    Ok Neu. I'll go ahead and make the assumption from your argument that you disagree with Lysander Spooner and Frederick Douglass. Spooner's "The Unconstitutionality of Slavery", as well as Douglass's "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" speech in 1841 where he observed of the Founding Fathers:

    Their statesmanship looked beyond the passing moment, and stretched away in strength into the distant future. They seized upon eternal principles, and set a glorious example in their defense. Mark them!

    As well as his observation of the incompatibility of that vision with what was, at the time, considered established "Practice and Custom":

    ...the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced...[L]et me ask, if it be not somewhat singular that, if the Constitution were intended to be, by its framers and adopters, a slave-holding instrument, why neither slavery, slaveholding, nor slave can anywhere be found in it.

    The power of the Constitution isn't an evolving process. It's the recognition of the basic rights of freedom and liberty that supercede any "Current Practice and Custom".

    In short - if you would like to argue that it is the addition of the 13th amendment that makes slavery unconstitutional and not the inconsistency with freedom and liberty, please refresh us on how the mere repeal of the 13th would not, therefore, re-institute the practice.

  • ||

    No, the framers and the founding generation did not support the proposition that "changing times or evolving societal or geopolitical realities" or future "practice" and "custom" trumps the plain meaning of the constitution.

  • Neu Mejican||

    No, the framers and the founding generation did not support the proposition that "changing times or evolving societal or geopolitical realities" or future "practice" and "custom" trumps the plain meaning of the constitution.

    You realize that in the context of

    "The Constitution and its meaning are also created by practice and custom. And we have 200 years of practice and custom that say you are wrong."

    that you are in a "yes it does, no it doesn't" style disagreement. Right?

  • ||

    Only when you're dealing with a relativist.

  • Neu Mejican||

    If a relativist and an absolutist are in disagreement, you have a "yes it does, not it doesn't" style disagreement. You are just restating what I said.

  • ||

    "Not every conflict is a "war" within the meaning of the Constitution."

    So the bombing of Pearl Harbor wasn't an act of war either, right?

    "Did Clinton need Congressional authorization to fire cruise missiles at Bin Ladin? Or Reagan to bomb Libya in 1986? I don't think so."

    So by your logic, because Presidents didn't feel the need to seek Congressional authorization, they obviously didn't need it?

    "so what? The Constitution and its meaning are also created by practice and custom."

    Thanks for endorsing the Left's argument that the Commerce Clause gives them unlimited power.

  • ||

    Not every conflict is a "war" within the meaning of the Constitution.

    If attacking the armed forces of a foreign nation and bombing its capitol isn't a war, what is?

  • ||

    John is clearly picking up pointers about redefining inconvenient words from...well, someone.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I would guess it is from Tulpa.

  • ||

    You're redefining Tulpa now?

  • Neu Mejican||

    I don't want to get into another one of your semantic arguments Tulpa.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Blowing up American shit: Act of war.

    Blowing up Non-American shit: Not an act of war; see also: business as usual, wag the dog, they're weaker than us, election time.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Um...John, you are defending the concept of the "Living Constitution" here. Please shut down and reboot your brain nao.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Ahhh. I love the smell of conservative hypocrisy in the morning.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Question: if attacking a foreign country without Congressional authorization, and without even the fig leaf of self-defense, isn't an impeachable offense, what is?

    Let's see...firing your secretary of war and allegations of perjury and obstruction of justice?

  • Neu Mejican||

    To be fair this should be "hiring your guy" and "not fessing up to a workplace blow job."

  • sevo||

    Neu Mejican|3.21.11 @ 10:23AM|#
    "Question: if attacking a foreign country without Congressional authorization, and without even the fig leaf of self-defense, isn't an impeachable offense, what is?

    Let's see..some stuff I read at Kos?"
    ---------------
    Good start Neu; you can't go much farther downhill from there.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Hi sevo...

    You are particularly incoherent today.

  • Neu Mejican||

    and for the record...I don't think I have ever read DailyKos. Just saying.

  • KPres||

    You're more of a Huffington Post kind of guy.

  • Neu Mejican||

    "More of?"...probably accurate since anything is more than never. I have read some Huffpo posts over the years. Primarily their record reviews, but even that I can probably count on my fingers.

    Blogs I read/check regularly: 3quarks Daily, Big Think, Seed Magazine, PLoS Blogs, Boing Boing, Crooked Timber, Edge, TED talks, Reason, Counterpunch, Antiwar.com. Most internet-news is from the websites of the majors like NPR, PBS, BBC, Christian Science Monitor.

  • ||

    War can have enormous consequences to the country, which is a major reason Congress is supposed to initiate it. If this war spreads into some general nonsense in the Middle East, it could get ugly.

  • kinnath||

    Every week, Obama finds a new way to amaze me. I really am beginning to miss Dick Nixon.

  • ||

    feel free to join him

  • ||

    You realize that inciting suicide is now a crime.

  • kinnath||

    Face it dickhead. In two short years, Obama has proven to have the worst aspects of all the presidents that I have lived under while displaying no positive characteristics. We can only pray that he is a single term president.

  • ||

    He's working on it.

  • nekoxgirl||

    Seriously. I never thought I'd say this, but Obama is worse than Bush II.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    This.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    ELIMINATIONIST. RHETORIC.

  • ||

    Tricky Dick signed some pretty liberal legislation into law.

  • ||

    But R C, anything but utter and absolute deference to the whim of the Commander-in-Chief in time of war is treason.

  • Barack Obama||

    Let me be clear.

    That's what I keep telling Michelle.

  • Rachel Madcow||

    "Borderline" treason, you illiterate patriarchist oaf.

  • LibertyMark||

    The naivete of our Federal masters with respect to foreign policy never ceases to amaze me.

    They're bumbling do-gooders with no ability to fathom the un-intended consequences of their actions.

  • ||

    "Do-gooders?" I wish they at least had pure motives. I think this has a lot more to do with image projection than a desire to right the wrongs of the world. If it were simply goodwill, we'd have done something about these regimes before.

  • LibertyMark||

    I agree with you, Pro Libertate. But they use "do-gooder" justifications for these things, and the mainstream media and an alarming percentage of the populace buy it.

  • ||

    I think sometimes we do such things for mostly good reasons (reflecting more the good of our population than of our political class), but it usually isn't because of the pure motives of our government. I think the venality of such actions lies more in political lucre than in things like "Oil!" or other more seemingly direct motives.

  • Bashir, Mugabe, et al||

    Really? It's not about oil? Then we don't know what we could possible do to our own citizens to justify you coming for us. Because we've tried everything.

  • memyselfiu||

    Excellent...and while the Sauds and Bahrain kill their own 'freedom fighters'/'terrorists' (depending on your version of the truth), US and NATO do nothing.

  • ||

    What we need to do is formalize our current state of perpetual war against all the nations of the earth; after that, any individual act is just tactics, and not subject to review by Congress.

  • ||

    no there's still strategy like in which order we attack them & who gets a no-bid contract on reconstruction.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Hey, Orrin... Clinton and Obama are still dealing with Halliburton. But you're okay with that.

  • ||

    I wonder how NO BLOOD FOR VOTES shirts would sell.

  • Rich||

    I'll take three.

  • Gregory Smith||

    Well, Clinton bombed Afghanistan to distract America from the Lewinsky scandal so I wouldn't be surprised if Obama does the same with Libya.

    Either way, I wasn't fooled then and I won't be fooled now.

    Hopeless Drama over 10% Cut in HOPE Scholarships.
    http://libertarians4freedom.bl.....-hope.html

  • Neu Mejican||

    Clinton bombed Afghanistan to distract America from the Lewinsky scandal

    That was Sudan, wasn't it? I forget.

  • ||

    It was both. Right after the African embassy bombings.

  • Neu Mejican||

    That's right...Sudan just stick out in my mind because we bombed a factory making vaccines...in Afghanistan is was playground equipment or something.

  • ||

    We love American kids. Other kids, not so much.

  • Brett L||

    "He'll save the children, but not the third-world children"

  • robc||

    You just compared Clinton to Washington. Sad.

  • Brett L||

    Well, I'm not sure Clinton ever held an opponent's wife's hand in jar of acid at a party. Probably just held it on "Little Bubba".

  • mad libertarian guy||

    I fucking hate American kids. Apparently it's because of them that I can't do a goddamned thing in this country that I might find enjoyable.

  • ||

    Now, we have another front.

  • Neu Mejican||

    A serious question related to the shifting "authority" discussion above. Given the relationship the US has with the UN, and given or seat on the security council...does participation in a security council approved action need to get Congressional approval? It seems like it does, but perhaps existing treaties or the like cover limited actions short of "war."

  • ||

    That is a good question. Treaties can't trump the Constitution. It comes down to how much leeway does the President have to use force before asking Congress for approval.

    As I said above, I don't think lobbing a few cruise missiles requires Congressional approval. But if this goes on for weeks or months, I don't see how it doesn't require such approval.

  • ||

    Treaties actually do trump the constitution. From Article VI:

    "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the Supreme Law of the land; and the Judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

    The Bricker Amendments proposed in the 1950s would have prevented this but Ike managed to kill them.

    Of course, it's moot in this case because the UN treaties don't require member nations to take part in any military action under any circumstances.

  • Brett L||

    Historically (Korea, Iraq I & II), UNSC decisions have had some sort of accompanying resolution passed by the US Congress for the reason John mentions.

  • ||

    ...does participation in a security council approved action need to get Congressional approval?

    I don't see anything in the Constitution that would indicate that it does.

    Even an attack on a country we have a "mutual defense" treaty with does not override the Constitutional requirement for Congress to act before we go to war. And a UN resolution falls far, far short of a mutual defense treaty.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Like I said, my guess would be yes, you need congressional approval, but the details of the treaty matters. If Congress approved a treaty that gave approval of limited military action in conjunction with security council actions, maybe not. This resolution, however, seems worded to indicate that member nations are free to take action as they see fit. In that context, it seems congressional approval is warranted.

  • ||

    There is no language in the constitution that supports your musing. None. If the founders had so desired, they could have included such language and the ratifiers would have had the opportunity to endorse such language. It didn't happen.

  • Neu Mejican||

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

    I don't see where this puts limit on the shape of these treaties. Nothing here seems to contradict authority to write and approve a treaty authorizing certain kinds of joint military actions.

    Just saying.

  • Neu Mejican||

    For context:

    [The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur....

    Again, nothing about the scope or content of those treaties...just the power to make them.

  • robc||

    However, only congress has the power to declare war, and a treaty (though ratified by congress) isnt congress.

    Thus, a treaty cant commit us to war without approval of the current congress.

    That requires reading two separate passages of the constituion and applying the logic necessary to make them both valid simultaneously, and understanding that therefore, you cant read either statement as an absolute outside of context.

    What I am saying is, that while the constitution doesnt explicitly limit the treaty power, the treaty power cannot exceed the powers already granted to the Federal government by the constitution.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I have already said I think that this is probably true. But I can imagine a treaty written with specific explicit text that addresses this issue in a way that by-passes the need for a direct declaration of war, or that provides something along the lines of "if X happens in this specific way, action Y can be considered approved by congress." I don't think this is open and shut, slam dunk, black and white constitutional law. There seems some wiggle room. I doubt the current treaties rise to that level.

  • Brett L||

    See my example below. Allowing treaties with unconstitutional clauses to be ratified would undermine the entirel Constitution. Imagine the NATO treaty required soldiers to be quartered in civilian domiciles without compensation during peacetime. The President can sign it, and Congress can ratify, but any law passed to allow enforcement of the treaty clause would be unconstitutional.

  • robc||

    I was agreeing with you mostly, except for this:

    I can imagine a treaty written with specific explicit text that addresses this issue in a way that by-passes the need for a direct declaration of war, or that provides something along the lines of "if X happens in this specific way, action Y can be considered approved by congress."

    I think THAT is black and white. Only congress can declare war, a treaty cant commit future congresses to that declaration, even if the future congress is the same one (they may change their mind between passing treaty and time for the war).

    What is more interesting for me is whether the president needs a declaration of war if the enemy has declared war on us? He would still need congressional authority to commit troops, but the war has already been declared, so Im not sure there is need for another.

    However, an act of war is not equal to a declaration of war.

    So, Afghanistan attacks us (9/11), that is an act of war. Bush should have pushed for a DoW before committing troops.

    Tripoli declared war on us in 1803. Im not sure that Jefferson needed a DoW - in fact, he only got a congressional authority, not a declaration of War, but the war had already been declared so Im not sure he needed one to act.

  • memyselfiu||

    Afghanistan?? I think you mean Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan is just a Friday Night hangout for these guys.

  • Nipplemancer||

    treaties do not trump the constitution

  • Obama||

    Let me be clear. We're working on that.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Neu Mejican,

    I don't see where this puts limit on the shape of these treaties. Nothing here seems to contradict authority to write and approve a treaty authorizing certain kinds of joint military actions.


    You're absolutely right: the clause clearly states treaties become the law of the land. That only stresses the point that Congress has to be very careful about what it ratifies.

    However, treaties cannot TRUMP the constitution, as it would violate the other part of the clause: All laws have to be made in pursuance of the Constitution. Treaties that limit people's rights or freedoms would ipso facto be null and void, as the authority of Congress comes from the people, not the other way around - Congress can't sign the People to bondage, nowhere does it have such power. Otherwise, the Constitution is simply a dead document... and I am not trying to be ironic.

  • Nipplemancer||

    jinx?

  • robc||

    Treaties that limit people's rights or freedoms would ipso facto be null and void, as the authority of Congress comes from the people, not the other way around

    And one of those authorities the people grant to congress is the power to declare war. They cannot pass the buck up to a treaty even if they want to.

  • ||

    The Constitution authorizes Congress to declare war, but since Congress has authorized many military engagements without declaring war, doesn't it stand to reason they don't think a declaration of war is necessary for every conflict involving the military? This goes all the way back to Adams, Jefferson, and most notably Madison who certainly had an idea what the Framers would mean. Let's face it. War, acts of war, military conflicts, they all reside in a perpetual gray area, so who is to define what action needs the official congressional declaration? Only SCOTUS can do that for purposes of this discussion and they seem to have done so. The definition is, like everything, at their whim based on the lawsuit at hand. Congress could fight presidents on it but they don't.

    The Treaty clause is interesting, because if the treaty stipulates a mutual defense pact and some rogue country starts a military engagement with our treaty partner(s) why is a Declaration required? We would defend the partner just like we would defend ourselves. Defense doesn't require a declaration, does it? Otherwise you'd need one to blast a missile out of the sky that's "comin' right for us!" I don't see how one clause overrules the other if Congress isn't arguing that the action requires a DoW or SCOTUS isn't hearing a case. Congress is too weak-kneed to put their name on stuff unless it's nearly unanimous which has been the case with all 5 official DoWs and SCOTUS doesn't listen unless there is a disagreement.

    Of course, none of this justifies action in Libya.

  • Sudden||

    The entire point of that passage was to ensure that the individual states didn't adopt their own individual treaties and foreign policies. It was to place the entirety of foreign policy within the national legislature. What it does not mean, intend, condone, or support is the notion that executing war powers on the basis of those treaties (and I should add that mere membership in a body like the U.N. is not quite comparable to a treaty-based organization like NATO's "attack on one is an attack on all") is somehow beyond the scope of congressional authorization.

  • ||

    None of the UN agreements require member nations to take part in military actions under any circumstances.

  • Michael||

    The television media's cock slobbering on this over the weekend was appalling. I didn't watch a single opinion program yet witnessed all manner of allegedly objective reporters put on their talking head hats at seemingly every opportunity and comment all about how this situation was different from previous actions because we had a multinational alliance and a UN thumbs up and Hilary's diplomatic pantsuit and whatnot. Perhaps this is what a "post-partisan" era truly looks like - we're now governed by consensus from abroad instead of by our own elected representatives.

  • ||

    War is good for ratings.

  • MNG||

    I imagine the authority lies in the UN/NATO angle which would make this a treaty matter, I think the executive can act in accordance with treaties pretty willy-nilly. It's a long worrisome thing iirc (some SCOTUS case where the executive could proclaim and enforce a provision to protect migratory birds w/out congressional permission per a treaty).

  • ||

    That case went the other way as I remember. The Constitution still trumps treaties and international law, at least as long as Kennedy isn't the deciding vote.

  • MNG||

  • MNG||

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    Holland v. Missouri


    That was a case pertaining to State's rights vs. a treaty ratified by Congress, not about a treaty trumping an enumerated power of Congress. Treaties cannot trump the Constitution; you need to amend it, first, to say they can.

  • MNG||

    Some people have taken Holmes' opinion in there to grant a pretty scary broad treaty making power.

    But the Reid case I linked to and I think John was referring to limits that.

  • ||

    Some people do, but they are incorrect to do so. Ratified treaties, are, in essence, acts of law internal to the U.S. Nothing in the treaty can be unconstitutional.

  • Brett L||

    So Congress can ratify a treaty limiting the 1st Amendment -- say, preventing a US paper from printing Libyan secrets? I think this particular subject is analogous to that.

  • ||

    That's what I'm saying--treaties have to fall within the limits of the Constitution just like anything else.

  • Neu Mejican||

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land

    Seems as long as the process of making the treaty is constitutional, the constitution sees treaties as binding law equivalent in power to the constitution.

    No?

  • ||

    No. The government cannot act in any manner contrary to the Constitution. There's no Get Out of Jail Free card.

  • ||

    You seem to be unaware of the failed Bricker Amendments from the 1950s.

    No treaties which shall be directly opposed to the existing laws of the United States in Congress assembled shall be valid until such laws shall be repealed, or made conformable to such treaty; nor shall any treaty be valid which is contradictory to the Constitution of the United States.
  • ||

    Yes, the Bricker Amendments failed, but the Supreme Court essentially ruled that treaties could not abrogate the Constitution in Reid, as MNG notes.

    Bricker would have gone farther by stating that ordinary laws were not obviated until specifically repealed, etc.

  • Neu Mejican||

    The government cannot act in any manner contrary to the Constitution.

    I am not positing that they act in a manner contrary to the constitution. But the status of the treaty is not lesser than the constitution. Treaties made by the US carry equivalent force to the constitution, it seems. So I don't see how congress and the president acting together to approve a treaty to "pre-approve" certain kinds of military actions with well-defined limits goes against the constitutional mandate for war to be declared by congress.

  • ||

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land

    I guess the question becomes, what treaty obligations are made under the authority of the United States.

    I have a hard time saying that any goddam thing in a duly approved treaty is ipso facto the supreme law of the land. The Constitution exists to put limits on the authority of the United States, so I don't think an otherwise unconstitutional treaty obligation becomes constitutional when ratified by the Senate. Examples can be multiplied of plainly absurd hypothetical treaties.

  • ||

    It's stupid wording by the Founders, obviously. But it is what it is. (The guy who wrote the Second Amendment deserves to be shot for all the superfluous punctuation, that's for sure)

    If we're going to insist on interpreting the Constitution literally, we can't suddenly make an exception.

  • ||

    I thought this was already clear in our jurisprudence. The point of the supremacy clause is that "federal law" is supreme as opposed to contradictory state laws. Federal law includes the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties.

  • Brett L||

    Sorry, misread your statement above as saying anything ratified in treaty was definitionally Constitutional.

  • ||

    No UN member nation is required by UN agreements to partake in military activity under any circumstances. So it's not a treaty matter.

  • Neu Mejican||

    No UN member nation is required by UN agreements to partake in military activity under any circumstances. So it's not a treaty matter.

    Required to participate and authorized to participate are meaningfully different.

    And there is this...

    In order to enable the United Nations to take urgent military measures, Members shall hold immediately available national air-force contingents for combined international enforcement action. The strength and degree of readiness of these contingents and plans for their combined action shall be determined within the limits laid down in the special agreement or agreements referred to in Article 43, by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee.

    I am not by any means an international lawyer, but this seems relevant in the discussion.

  • ||

    If the treaties spoke of conditions for authorization, that would only mean that Congress can't declare war unless the conditions were met. It wouldn't mean that a war could begin without Congressional approval.

  • Neu Mejican||

    As I have said numerous times already, I tend to agree. But the "hold immediately available" clause above seems to speak to military actions short of war...which is a running theme in this discussion.

  • MNG||

    The 'why' he did this seems plain to me. Our Nato allies were pushing this and given the recent Arab uprisings we needed to look like we were on the 'right side of history,' 'the march of liberty' or the 'Arab street' (remember the people heckling Clinton in Egypt "we need to help the people of Libya"). I think if this had not happened in that context we would not have intervened.

  • ||

    The why we did this is about refugees. No one was saying a word about this until refugees started showing up in Europe. Think about it, what are the last two wars that had broad European support and participation? This one and Kosovo. Both of them were done to prevent a refugee crisis in Europe.

  • MNG||

    I'm sure refugees had something to do with European support, but there were other factors as well. I think if this had occurred sans Tunisia and Egypt support for intervention would have been far less.

  • Tim||

    I suspect that when Qaddafi junior announced that they would soon release documents showing who was taking Libyan payola- the shit was destined to hit the fan.
    Might also explain why they had to blow up the headquarters building.

  • MNG||

    I will say that you have a good point that I have not heard elsewhere though that Europe may have some smelly self-interest behind their high-falutin' talk of supporting liberty and such...I'd be curious to know, was Italy, who would have been most impacted, as gung-ho as France seemed to be?

  • kinnath||

    I've met lots of engineers in France that were from various states along the northern cost of Africa (particularly from former French colonies). The engineers are mostly tolerated in France; the 20-something day-laborers -- not so much.

  • ||

    Snobs!

  • Barack Obama||

    Best way to prevent a refugee crisis is to kill as many pesky brown people as you can.

  • Number 2||

    You mean like the Arab League..who called upon the International Community to create a "no fly" zone, but are now objecting to what the International Community in the course of creating one? (It apparently did not occur to the Arab League that creating a no-fly zone in a sovereign country with anti-aircraft capacity is, in fact, an act of war).

  • Number 2||

    That should read, "...what the International Community is doing in the course of creating one..."

  • DJF||

    NATO is not part of this, they have not voted for it. It takes all 28 members of NATO for it to be a NATO operation.

    And even when they vote for an operation like Afghanistan, they don’t all participate, so even if they vote approval there is precedent for countries to opt out from actually doing anything..

  • Almanian||

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/money.....n-textbook

    Econ text replaces Tiger Woods w/Tom Brady as an example of "comparative advantage".

    RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACISM follows....

    Via NPR - Our Tax Dollars at Work®!!

  • Jeffersonian||

    Both bang uber-hawt supermodels. I hate them for it.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Don't be too envious. No matter how hot a woman is, there is, somewhere on Earth, a man who is tired of her shit.

  • sasob||

    No matter how physically attractive someone is, one will usually always get used to her (his) looks.

  • ||

    Tiger Woods sucking now might have something to do with it.

    Do econ textbooks have the same curse as the cover of Madden NFL?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    As a Dolphins fan, I can only fucking hope so.

  • Sal Paradise||

    As someone who lives in a liberal college town, I can't wait to go on campus today and see all of the anti-war protesters.

    Oh wait, we have the right people in charge now.

  • MNG||

    I dunno, give it some time...There were plenty of protests from the left over the Bosnian bombings. Iirc Michael Moore criticized it heavily in Bowling for Columbine.

  • Sal Paradise||

    I doubt it. The protests mysteriously disappeared after 2008. I guess we won.

  • Kindergarten Cop||

    It is not a war!

  • ||

    You think that is wrong. But so what? The Constitution and its meaning are also created by practice and custom. And we have 200 years of practice and custom that say you are wrong.

    Tony?

    Is that you?

  • ||

    Our Nato allies were pushing this and given the recent Arab uprisings we needed to look like we were on the 'right side of history,'

    "Don't my biceps look HUGE in this Commander-in-Chief costume, Honey?"

    NO BLOOD FOR VOTES

  • Cindy||

    PAGING CODE PINK. PAGING CODE PINK.

  • ||

    TEAM PINK!

  • MNG||

    You do know that if NATO did nothing and the rebels were massacred there would have been a lot of fingers pointed at us, right? The "Arab Street" and other 'non-aligned' nations would have saw this as freedom preaching nations leaving freedom fighters out to dry. Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps sells well among libertarians but seems mighty callous to many people...

  • Spoonman.||

    US foreign policy should not be predicated on the whining of foreign armchair quarterbacks.

  • MNG||

    Well, yeah, but our image in the world does kind of matter and is ultimately in our interest to protect. I mean consider the amount of money and civil liberties that could have been protected if the wide majority of Arabs in the world thought of us like they did Wilson right after WWI...

  • Spoonman.||

    Protecting our image doesn't justify immoral acts. Invoking Wilson as an example reinforces my point nicely.

  • MNG||

    Are you arguing it is immoral to provide military support to the rebels? Not imprudent, or unconstitutional, but immoral?

  • Spoonman.||

    Yes. It is immoral of the US government to use taxpayer-funded equipment to intervene in a foreign civil war that poses no danger to the US.

    I would be more willing to listen to counterarguments if their proponents agreed there's nothing Gaddaffi's done that hasn't been done by many other dictators around the world that we haven't intervened against.

  • Spoonman.||

    Last sentence should read "there's nothing Gaddaffi's done that hasn't been done by many other dictators around the world that we haven't intervened against, and thus we should intervene against them too."

    Note that intervening against every evil dictator in the world would be insane, but it would be consistent.

  • ||

    Yes, military intervention by one state, the provisions for which have been forcibly confiscated from those who make and produce wealth, in order to invade a second state, is, an absolute immorality.

    The higher the ends, the higher must be the means.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Well, to be fair it is immoral to tax people, but I'm bot sure if it follows from that that it's immoral to use the equipment paid for with those taxes for an essentially virtuous purpose. A single immoral act doesn't sully every adjacent act. And it could be that you want to consistently apply the principle 'We'll get rid of foreign dictators if it doesn't cost us too much' - the right to remove a dictator doesn't entail an obligation to do so. I think the chief argument for the immorality of any particular war is always going to be the civilian casualties caused by our side, not least because most western countries subscribe to the idiotic doctrine that it doesn't count if you were aiming at a guy with a gun standing next to the civilian.

  • Jim||

    "A single immoral act doesn't sully every adjacent act."

    Actually I would say that yes, yes it does. Otherwise, as long as taxes are used for the "greater good", then taxes are completely justifiable. Which most libertarianism holds to be untrue (forced confiscation of wealth is never justifiable).

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    No, that doesn't follow. Let's say immoral act X is used to achieve permissible end Y. To say that Y doesn't justify X is libertarian. However, to say that Y is made immoral by X isn't necessarily. Y doesn't change the fact that X is immoral, and it should be treated as such, but X doesn't drag Y down with it. I can't think of any compelling reason why it should, unless of course X was the only way to achieve Y.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    For example, I don't think it's wrong to jail murderers even if the police, courts and jail cell are paid for with taxes. This doesn't change the fact that I think the taxes themselves are wrong.

  • memyselfiu||

    Danger to to US = 3.5% of the sweetest crude you've ever tasted coming off the market and causing double dip recession

  • ||

    I would say that morality has nothing to do with it.

    You can't really call what you do "moral" if you only do it when its easy, and not even consistently when its easy.

  • Jeffersonian||

    It's not immoral to topple brutal, kleptocratic tyrannies like that of Gaddafi, but it's not wise to charge into it half-assed like this and it would be nice to get Congress on board.

  • zoltan||

    It's not immoral to topple brutal, kleptocratic tyrannies

    It is when you steal money to fund it.

  • sasob||

    We're probably borrowing it.

  • ||

    it damn sure does when our allies are the ones whining.

  • UrineOhio||

    We can always count on you to chip in with a dumbass comment, Urine! Way to not disappoint!

  • ||

    is that the royal we? because i live to not disappoint an e-stalker dont ja know /

  • The Gobbler||

    I concur with UrineOhio's comment. You really are stupid, which is why that fact has not, and never will dawn on you.

  • ||

    Yes, yes, MNG. The issue of whether we should be bombing Libya is completely separate from the question of whether Congressional authorization is needed.

  • MNG||

    Oh, conceded RC, liberals tend to support the War Powers Act, it's GOPers like Cheney who denigrate it.

  • The Gobbler||

    What war did Cheney authorize / execute?

  • ||

    There's a few Old Right types that argue that the War Powers Act is unConstitutional because it gives the President *too much* power to do a quick war and ask permission later, and that violates nondelegation of powers.

    It's like Too Big To Fail being codified by Dodd-Frank and other regulations, the War Powers Act is a result of people saying that "well, the President's going to do this anyway, so we may as well put a procedure and limits into place."

  • DJF||

    NATO is not part of this operation, they need all 28 countries to agree and they don’t have that. Turkey and Germany (plus probably others) are against it.

  • ||

    Plenty of Arabs were happy we got rid of Saddam.

    It was what came after that they weren't happy about.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    And god forbid we seem fucking callous.

  • UrineOhio||

    I like how you come right out and say they're fake, Bot. Big ups.

  • Sandi||

    If you can't turn on the fan, at least crack open the window.

  • Sandi||

    Homer Nods:

    Sorry, I mistook you for OhioOrrin. I regret the error.

  • ||

    leaving freedom fighters out to dry.

    As opposed to installing a puppet government which will assist us in our never-ending quest to pillage the Middle East.

    We can't win.

  • ||

    Aren't we really just saying that, at some level, our purported "principles" for bombing a country are pretextual, since they only seem to apply when the country is weak? Are they really principle if you only follow them when its easy?

    What is that called when you only pick on weaklings? Oh yeah, a bully and a coward.

  • UrineOhio||

    Cause the genius move it to only pick on "strong" opponents so you can increase the chance of losses.

    You lost a lot at Risk as a kid, didn't you?

  • ||

    So we'll be invading Australia next?

  • Almanian||

    New Zealand

  • Tim||

    Hold it there Tom Mix! There's a NEW Zealand?

  • Nipplemancer||

    yea, but everyone complained about the flavor so they nixed it and put 'classic' on each can of Zealand.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Dude, never invade Australia. Let someone else do it and save your troops.

  • ||

    Try to occupy it from the get-go and take it from within.

  • Almanian||

    Silly Reasonoids:

    We have ALWAYS been at war with Libya!

  • Kolohe||

    In the context of anymore under 25, that's actually sort of true.

  • robc||

    This is the Third Barbary War, so pretty much.

    Was just reading about the First. Pre-war we were some years paying 20% of the federal budget in tribute.

    Jefferson opposed tribute. Adams did also, but thought we should pay it until we built up a sufficient Navy.

    By 1801 we had a sufficient Navy and a hard-headed (in a good way) prez.

  • Brett L||

    And then we ran a frigate aground and had to execute the one of the most daring raids in history up to that point to fire the ship. I read a really good book about it -- can't recall the name. Started with the surrender of the USS Philadelphia and covered the entire Tripoli expedition.

    Ah, bless you Wikipedia:
    Zachs, Richard The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805, New York, Hyperion, 2005

  • mad libertarian guy||

    If you're going to be all uppity about a citation on a blog, at least do it fucking right.

  • ||

    How long 'til we start building a ten billion dollar embassy compound in Tripoli?

    I say, less than a year.

  • Tim||

    After we topple Qaddafi there will, of course, be a need for a "stabilization force".

  • kinnath||

    If Obama was to go on TV to announce that we have come to our senses and we plan to start colonizing parts of the world that control vital commodities (like oil), I could almost understand it.

    But the idea that we'll bomb the shit out of a sovereign state on the weekend when basketball madness controls the tube just to avoid an uncomfortable conversation with congress -- well that just blows my mind.

  • Ray||

    Those Nobel boys sure know how to pick 'em.

  • kinnath||

    We have Iraq, Afghanistan, cruise missle attacks against Afghan rebels in Pakistan (over the complaints of our nominal ally), and now an undeclared new war in Libya.

    Breathtaking.

  • Almanian||

    Unprecedented, even

  • Tim||

    You can say that again.

  • Almanian||

    Unprecedented, even

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Historic.

  • Old Mexican||

    You... you... you cynic!

  • Yasser Arafat in Hell||

    [cough!]

  • sevo||

    "Those Nobel boys sure know how to pick 'em."

    There's a reason you don't bet your hand until you've seen a couple of cards.

  • Wesley DNS Snipes||

    "Do you play roulette?"

    "On occasion. Why?"

    "Always bet on black!"

  • Barack Obama||

    I bet on Red in the 80's. Fucking Gorbochev was such a weakling.

  • ||

    PEACE IS OUR PROFESSION

  • Maj. Kong||

    I've been to one world fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that's the stupidest thing I ever heard come over a set of earphones.

  • ||

    its only stupid to those who dont understand deterrence.

  • ||

    we get leterrence

  • Tim||

    I suspect that when Qaddafi junior announced that they would soon release documents showing who was taking Libyan payola- the shit was destined to hit the fan.
    Might also explain why they had to blow up the headquarters building.

  • ||

    treaties have to fall within the limits of the Constitution just like anything else.

    That's why the Senate has to ratify them, because they're such sticklers for the Constitution.

  • ||

    This war shows that both left wing and right wing Americans are big fans of waging war. During the Iraq invasion I speculated that had a left wing president being responsible then the anti war crowd would have being mostly the right wing, looks like my theory is being proved correct.

  • Khaddafy, Qaddafi, Kadafi||

    Silly Americans! How will you come to a consensus when you can't even agree how to spell my name?

  • DNS ||

    Silly Americans! How will you come to a consensus when you can't even agree how to spell my name?

    We have as many spellings for your name as you own ridiculous outfits. Does Project Runway supply your wardrobe?

  • Concerned Citizen||

    My liberal friends on Facebook bemoan what the missle strike cost in relation to NPR's funding. I asked them why can't NPR hire salespeople and make money like other radio and tv stations. They went berserk.

  • ||

    Why can't all of those who want the united states to outspend the rest of the world on cannons and cannon fodder, do so on their own dime?

  • Tim||

    The libyan No Fly Zone, made possible by a grant from the US Navy, and viewers like you. Nayv, it's not just a job, it's an adventure.

  • ||

    That's funny, all of my liberal friends on facebook have so far been quiet. Maybe cause they know the second the say something I'm gonna slam them the fuck down like that kid on youtube.

  •  ||

    My liberal friends on Facebook

    They're not really your friends. You do know that, right?

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Hmm, they do enjoy the gov't initiating force to achieve social and political goals. Thanks for the perspective. Now I won't feel bad for telling them what I saw on the Military Channel last night - a story about Hitler's bodyguards. Seems he had some gay male socialists at first in the SA, a rival of the SS. Until Himmler found out.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    You still have liberal friends after Facebook conversations? Mine won't even engage me on this stuff after I swatted one of them down (who happens to be a college professor, BTW) during the Obamacare debates for pulling out a class warfare non-sequiter.

    Basically, if we want to stay friends, we keep the politics out of it.

  • ||

    just wait right there & we'll be right w you

  • Tim||

    Prepare the Tom Cruise missiles for launch!

  • Nipplemancer||

    Poor Katie, that's what she hears every night after Tom lets her out of her cage.

  • Tim||

    Sounds like risky business..

  • Rebecca DNS DeMornay||

    "50 Dollars? What are we going to do about this, Joel?"

  • Jeffersonian||

    "Dick Trickle" holds an entirely different meaning for Katie, alas.

  • ||

    Tom Waits > Tom Hawks

  • ||

    "Setting aside the wisdom of the intervention, Obama's entry into Libya's civil war is troubling on at least five counts."

    "...On at least five counts..." Hmmm ... I like the direction of Carney's rhetorical choices...

  • ||

    I have no problem with what Obama's done on this so far.

    I'd be worried if he didn't have any critics on this.

    There was a time when the Bush Administration didn't hardly have any critics on the right--and that led to all sorts of stupid mistakes from disbanding the Iraqi military to changing interrogation policy. Yes, if you supported the Bush Administration unfailingly from the right, then I think you contributed to the Bush Administration's mistakes--how's it feel?

    "Fourth is the unclear role the United States will play in this coalition. Fifth is the lack of a clear endgame."

    I have a problem with those statements--they seems self-contradictory to me.

    I think he's mincing the term "endgame" with what most of us think of as "exit strategy" a la the Powell Doctrine.

    The lack of clarity as to our role--gives us clarity in terms of our exit strategy...

    If our efforts fail, we can take our bat and ball and go home anytime we like--and that's perfect!

    The aftermath of success is the UN's problem to deal with--not ours. And that's perfect too!

    Our exit strategy is leaving the coalition whenever it suits us to do so--and not having formally declared war contributes to giving us a free hand in terms of not having to win in order to leave.

    So our exit strategy is clear--in success or failure--and that's the important thing. If things go great, then the UN will help the Libyans build a new government--not the US. If things go poorly?

    America wasn't responsible for breaking it, so we didn't buy it and we don't have to fix it in order to win a war either.

    Given that free hand, what difference does having an "end game" matter? We have an exit strategy for success. We have an exit strategy for failure. What difference would having an "end game" make?

  • Cy Nickelfuque||

    The lack of clarity as to our role--gives us clarity in terms of our exit strategy...

    This works with ObamaCare, too.

  • ||

    "This works with ObamaCare, too."

    That's exactly right!

    ObamaCare was voted on by Congress. That gives it clarity.

    That's the kind of clarity we want to stay away from by declaring war.

    If Congress had never voted on ObamaCare, we could walk away from it right now.

  • sevo||

    Ken Shultz|3.21.11 @ 12:13PM|#
    "I have no problem with what Obama's done on this so far."

    "Oh, Mr President, do not let so great an achievement suffer from any taint of legality."
    Philander Knox to FDR.

  • sevo||

    Correction:
    Philander Knox to *TR*.

  • ||

    Again, the short response to that?

    There's an argument out there that the U.S. Congress declaring war against a Muslim nation is not in the best interest of US security...

    ...and I buy that argument.

    Libya isn't happening in a vacuum. ...and we can do a lot to reverse perceptions by helping Muslims overthrow a dictator here--without occupying the country?

    If the U.S. declaring war on a Muslim nation messes that up? Then messing it up just to assuage a few legal concerns is silly.

    He's no committing U.S. troops--they're not really at risk. We're not taking the responsibility of an occupation. We're not talking about spending hundreds of billions of dollars on Libya...

  • ||

    There's an argument out there that the U.S. Congress declaring war against a Muslim nation is not in the best interest of US security...

    I fail to see how Congress declaring war against a Muslim nation is bad for US security, but the US actually prosecuting the exact same war against a Muslim nation is good for US security.

  • ||

    I suppose it is hard for those things to be true isn't it? And that should mean one of them is false.

    In a bunch of other threads over the past few days, I've made the case that the Iraq War was not in the best interests of US security.

    The bungling of interrogation policy which led to the disgrace of Abu Ghraib alone was bad for U.S. security...but there's no sense in me rehashing all those old threads here.

    Suffice it to say, that--no. I don't think the Iraq War was in the best interests of US security. ...and this is a chance to undo some of that damage. We've been coddling dictators like Mubarak since before the end of the Cold War, and this is a chance to get on the side of Muslim people against such dictators...

    If Iraq was a bunch of mistakes, there's no sense in repeating it in Libya just to be consistent!

  • ||

    The aftermath of success is the UN's problem to deal with--not ours. And that's perfect too!

    Where are you getting this from? I hope not from the fact that there was a security council resolution. We had a security council resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq too.

  • ||

    There was a resolution demanding that Saddam Hussein comply with weapons inspections among other things, but there was no UN resolution authorizing the war as a UN endeavor.

    "At this point, the US Administration asserted that Iraq remained in material breach of the UN Resolutions, and that, under 1441, this meant the Security Council had to convene immediately "in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security".

    Before the meeting took place, French president Jacques Chirac declared on March 10 that France would veto any resolution which would automatically lead to war. This caused open displays of dismay by the U.S. and British governments. The drive by Britain for unanimity and a "second resolution" was effectively abandoned at that point.

    In the leadup to the meeting, it became apparent that a majority of UNSC members would oppose any resolution leading to war. As a result, no such resolution was put to the Council."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.....resolution

    Does the term "freedom fries" ring a bell?

    This isn't the situation with Libya.

    Iraq was our baby. We invaded without a UN resolution to invade Iraq.

    There's a UN resolution for what's happening in Libya. The responsibility for Libya belongs to the UN. That's what having a UN resolution is. That's what having a UN resolution means.

  • ||

    Mind you, I'm not saying that the United States should ever need permission from the UN to go to war...

    I'm saying that being able to use the UN as an exit strategy is an extreme advantage, one that's only thrown away if you think the United States should bear the responsibility for all the ethnic, political and economic problems of a place like Iraq--now and forever more.

    A war can be smart without a UN resolution--particularly if it's fought in self-defense as I believe Afghanistan was. But that doesn't change the fact that what we're doing in Libya right now is the UN's responsibility.

    We don't have to bring about democratic government in Libya, and we don't have to put down any insurgency there. If there's a civil war in Libya, that isn't the United States' problem to solve--like Iraq was.

    That problem belongs to the Libyan people and, to whatever extent the Libyan people want the help of the UN? The aftermath will be the UN's problem too.

    Not the United States' problem--the UN's.

  • ||

    If things go poorly we get blamed. The idea that we just go la la la-ing into the night is absurd. And if it goes well, it's a group effort.

    This is Leadership 101, and it's a good thing, not bad, in the long term. The idea that we didn't 'break Libya' because we weren't the ones assembling the coalition or we took a backseat is absurd in a US dominated world. Even the start of the war coincided with the start of America's joining the coalition.

  • ||

    "If things go poorly we get blamed."

    Some people will blame us no matter what happens--that's not what I'm talking about.

    If Iraq had exploded into a war of ethnic cleansing a la the former Yugoslavia, it would have been incumbent on us to put it down.

    We're not responsible for putting down a civil war in post Gadaffi Libya any more than we're responsible for putting down a civil war in the Gaza strip.

    Part of the reason for that is because our Congress hasn't declared war on Libya. If we walk away from Libya, some people will no doubt say it's a shame.

    ...but we can walk away from Libya. We've been trying to walk away from Iraq for at least 7 years!

  • ||

    Hell, we're still not out of Japan, Germany and Korea!

  • ||

    Other factors . . . other factors . . . what could that mean?

    Oh! I have it! Oil!

    Folks this is -all- about keeping Libyans in place and the oil moving. I'm not saying those aren't perfectly defensible policies, but rational people should recognize the facts.

  • sasob||

    I think it's more about stabilizing world market prices for oil. If that isn't done, there could be a highly detrimental effect on any so-called economic recovery both here and in Europe. There is also the consideration that if gasoline prices hit $4 to $5 a gallon here by 2012, Obama won't be re-elected.

  • ||

    Then we're agreed. This has bugger-all to do with human rights and the Poor Suffering Libyans and everything to do with keeping the PSL in Africa and the oil moving.

    BTW, welcome. I don't think I've seen you here before.

  • Paul||

    Obama's entry into Libya's civil war is troubling on at least five counts. First is the legal and constitutional question. Second is the manner of Obama's announcement.

    But...but... DARFUR! RWANDA!

    I'm going out on a limb here. Obama has acted exactly consistently with the views of his left party base.

  • ||

    I think you're right about that.

    I've long thought that Bush's Iraq War was consistent with the Left's party base--they just didn't like his redneck aesthetic.

    Once people start to understand Bush as the liberal he was, I'll feel a lot better about the future. He expanded the Great Society. He ran a liberal foreign policy--just like Lyndon Johnson did.

    George Bush was a liberal. ...and Barack Obama is mostly like him. I think that's the dissonance here. A lot of Obama's base defined themselves as being antagonistic to Bush aesthetics. They don't like country music, nascar and scientific opinions of Jesus freaks.

    But underneath it all, Obama and Bush the Lesser are a lot alike.

  • Paul||

    Like I say, I'm going out on a limb-- don't have any evidence-- nothing. But I'm doing some quick math:

    Popular uprising opposing mean dictator: Check
    Dictator already has/had rocky relationship with U.S.: Check
    Peaceful protesters under assault/slaughter from heavy weapons: Check

    We know that the left was calling for an all out military action in Darfur, and almost all of my lefty friends in the 90s lamented our troops in various locations we didn't belong, "Except Rwanda, that's where we really should be".

  • ||

    Peaceful protesters under assault/slaughter from heavy weapons: Check

    I keep seeing those peaceful protestors on TV with .50 cals, RPGs, and AK-47s.

  • Paul||

    Well yeah, now that the U.S. and international community stood by with water while Libya burned... or something like that.

  • Paul||

    I also now take comfort in knowning that if anything goes wrong in Libya 50 years from now, we can throw out the knee-jerk:

    "[insert problem here] was created by 'Murrica!"

  • ||

    Fifth is the lack of a clear endgame.

    This is the one that was most troubling to me. I was thinking the best endgame would be something like this:

    - Negotiate a ceasefire between Gaddafi and the rebels in which Gaddafi's forces would retain control over Tripoli and the west, while the rebels would hold their positions in Benghazi and the east.

    - Have a UN peacekeeping force somewhere in the middle to ensure nobody violates the ceasefire (US forces would not need to be part of this force).

    - Appoint a mediator to aid negotiations between Gaddafi and the rebel's leaders to come up with a mutually agreeable way of resolving the conflict. This will probably be the most difficult part since the rebels main grievance is that they want him out and he wants to stay. They could possibly work out a deal where he is required to stand for election (which I suspect he'd lose); or have him transferred to a ceremonial role in a new government - in which elected leaders would have the real power. And if he is to depart, the world can still offer safe passage to Venezuela for him and his Amazonian Guard as a bargaining chip.

    - If and when a deal is reached, the UN's role would be to facilitate the transition by monitoring elections and helping the rebels establish a constitution that protects basic individual rights and the rule of law.

  • ||

    Yes, let us sit back and watch the anti-American despot Qaddafi kick the shit out of his uprising people.

    Lafayette is turning over in his grave at you stupid bitches!!!

  • ||

    That's -exactly- what I intend to do.

    Lafayette is overrated, especially as a guide to real-world politics in the modern era.

  • sevo||

    Lyle|3.21.11 @ 3:29PM|#
    "...Lafayette is turning over in his grave at you stupid bitches!!!"

    If you think Lafayette was here because of the altruism of the French government, you need to return for some remedial history.

  • ||

    We're sticking Jupiter's cock in Qaddafi's ass only out of altruism? He's like been our enemy for ages now and destabilizer in the Middle East and in Africa. Not to mention he's right across from Europe.

    There's more to it than altruism.

    Lafayette is turning over in his grave you bitches!!!

  • sevo||

    Lyle|3.21.11 @ 11:08PM|#
    "blaah, blaah, blaah, and I'm right!"

    Stuff it up your butt, or try a real argument. The fact that you don't like the guy is so much horseshit.

  • ||

    If the best scenario is a Libya divided between Gaddafi in the west and who-knows-who in the east, with a few blue helmets roaming the desert in what is bound to be a futile attempt to keep them off of each other, and various NGOs doing what they do (graft, rape, etc.)

    then we (well, really, the Libyans) are fucked.

  • ||

    If the best scenario is a Libya divided between Gaddafi in the west and who-knows-who in the east, with a few blue helmets roaming the desert in what is bound to be a futile attempt to keep them off of each other, and various NGOs doing what they do (graft, rape, etc.)

    then we (well, really, the Libyans) are fucked.

    Is this a response to my 3:08 comment above? Because, if so, I envisioned de-facto UN-mediated division as only a temporary solution. Not perfect; but probably better than having Gaddafi crush the revolt, kill a bunch of people, and re-consolidate his hold on power - thus closing what looks like a short window of opportunity when the world is willing to act.

  • ||

    Because, if so, I envisioned de-facto UN-mediated division as only a temporary solution.

    When has such a thing not immediately settled in for a nice long run of rent-seeking, bureacratic empire building, and general non-feasance?

    You think the Gaddafi regime is going to permanently reconcile itself to the Islamic/Free State of East Libya? You think the East Libyans are going to settle for the poor half of the country? Everyone will agree to, and abide by, an arbitrary line in the sand, and go their peaceful way?

    I don't. And that means a UN presence indefinitely, right up until someone thinks they've got the stuff to roll over the blue helmets and take the other guy.

    The only UN peacekeeping missions that I can think of that have worked involved a permanent American presence. So here we are, with another open-ended commitment to have Americans in Muslim country.

  • ||

    You think the Gaddafi regime is going to permanently reconcile itself to the Islamic/Free State of East Libya? You think the East Libyans are going to settle for the poor half of the country? Everyone will agree to, and abide by, an arbitrary line in the sand, and go their peaceful way?

    Read my 3:08 comment above. I did not propose partitioning the country. I proposed having the UN mediate negotiations between the two sides in order to come up with a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The reason for the temporary division and UN peacekeepers is because if Gaddafi can simply crush the rebellion, he has no reason to negotiate or make any concessions.

    When has such a thing not immediately settled in for a nice long run of rent-seeking, bureacratic empire building, and general non-feasance?

    That is a possibility. The two sides might not be able to come to an agreement, and the ceasefire might go on for decades while negotiations get nowhere. But that still seems better than having the rebellion crushed. After all; Gaddafi has to die eventually, and it will be politically more difficult for one of his sons (or whoever) to simply assume his role if the rebels still have a foothold.

    The only UN peacekeeping missions that I can think of that have worked involved a permanent American presence. So here we are, with another open-ended commitment to have Americans in Muslim country.

    Not necessarily. I don't believe the UN missions in Bosnia or Croatia had a permanent American presence. And yet they've managed to keep things peaceful for the last decade and a half or so.

    If you have a better idea though, I'd like to hear it.

  • ||

    Yes, let us sit back and watch the anti-American despot Qaddafi kick the shit out of his uprising people.

    Hey, we did it in Iran. What's different about Libya?

    Oh, yeah. Libya is weaker.

  • ||

    Great Britain's badassness didn't prevent France from getting involved in our Revolution. If we can act, we should.

  • sevo||

    Lyle|3.21.11 @ 11:14PM|#
    "Great Britain's badassness didn't prevent France from getting involved in our Revolution. If we can act, we should."

    Why don't you try learning something about history instead of proving to the world you're not real bright?

  • Rock Action ||

    I do not doubt their good intentions and motives

    This is Andrew Sullivan? Where is he hiding the guy that existed from around 2005 through March 19th, 2011?

    And I don't think I'm inappropriately taking that out of context.

  • Rock Action ||

    I should note he was referring to neo-conservatives and liberal interventionists. Which, at least for the utterly vilified Perle, Wolfowitz, Cheney, etc., I'd stunned if he hadn't questioned motive.

  • sevo||

    Ken Shultz|3.21.11 @ 2:15PM|#
    "Again, the short response to that?

    There's an argument out there that the U.S. Congress declaring war against a Muslim nation is not in the best interest of US security...

    ...and I buy that argument."

    Goody. There's this thing called the Constitution; you somehow have yet to deal with that.

  • ||

    Again, I'm not sure it requires Congressional approval every time we want to chase some Poncho Villa across the border.

    And to the larger point, if the purpose of government is to protect us, then I see smart moves like this within the context of an alliance as okay.

    I don't think there are any Americans at risk in this operation. I think the chances of Gadaffi's forces actually hitting our submarines or support aircraft are extremely remote. There's some expense involved--but it's a drop in the bucket compared to what we've spent on Afghanistan and Iraq...

    So, what are we talking about avoiding anyway? Are you afraid this involves some kind of precedent? Because precedent is exactly what I'm trying to avoid too!

    Some of the worst abuses of our constitutional rights that we've been subjected to recently have won enthusiastic bi-partisan support in Congress! ...from warrantless wiretapping to the Patriot Act!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A.....Terrorists

    That really was about Americans and our rights, but I don't see whose rights are being violated here.

    ...and, you know. Whenever Congress gets involved, from ObamaCare to the Patriot Act, I'm not sure they don't make bad situations worse as a general rule.

    If the President wanted to put troops on the ground, I think he needs to go to Congress. If he wanted to make us responsible for what happens in Libya after peace? Then I think he needs to go to Congress and get a declaration of war.

    However, if it's not in our best interest for us to formally declare war, and we're just shooting missiles from way out of their range and running air traffic control, etc? ...and if not formally declaring war minimizes our future commitment to Libya? Then by all means, Mr. President...go ahead and do the smart thing!

    I don't want to be responsible for what happens to Libya after Gadaffi, and if declaring war on Libya doesn't make us responsible for what happens there afterward, then when can we finally bug out of Japan or Germany?

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