Obama's War of Choice

The dangerously open-ended rationale for attacking Libya


In December 2007 The Boston Globe asked 12 presidential candidates about military action aimed at stopping Iran from building nuclear weapons. "In what circumstances, if any," the Globe asked, "would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress?"

Here is how Barack Obama responded: "The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." According to Obama's own standard, then, he violated the Constitution when he ordered a military attack against Libya. Worse, he did so in service of a dangerously open-ended rationale for military intervention that is completely unmoored from national defense.

In a letter to congressional leaders on Monday, Obama sought to justify his unilateral action by citing the March 17 U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing member states to "take all necessary measures…to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack" by forces loyal to Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi. When Obama announced the U.S. air strikes against Libya on Saturday, he likewise sought legal refuge in other countries, saying "the writ of the international community must be enforced."

Nonsense, says Louis Fisher, a former senior specialist on separation of powers at the Congressional Research Service, who literally wrote the book on war powers. "It's impossible for Congress to take its war powers and give [them] to the U.N.," Fisher told The Wall Street Journal.  "Other than defensive actions—and there's no defensive actions here—this has to be done by Congress."

Even if Obama had bothered to obey the Constitution by seeking congressional approval, intervening in Libya's civil war would take the U.S. military in the wrong direction at a time when fiscal realities dictate that America retire from its job as global policeman. As Obama conceded on Monday, "our military is already very stretched and carries large burdens all around the world"—precisely because it is required to do much more than defend the United States.

The U.S., with 5 percent of Earth's population and no enemies on its borders, spends about as much on "defense" as the rest of the world combined. If you want to know why, consider how casually our commanders in chief order American servicemen to risk their lives for purposes that have nothing to do with national security.

Obama claims "we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy." Yes, we can, and we often do.

There is no moral consistency, and little rhyme or reason, to the U.S. government's decisions about which brutal dictators to challenge, which to leave alone, and which to support as allies. The regimes that endorsed the war with Libya—supposedly justified by outrage over "gross and systematic violation of human rights"—include quite a few, such as Gabon, Syria, and Saudi Arabia,  that are guilty of the same crimes.

In any case, American taxpayers have a right to expect that the money they are compelled to contribute to this nation's defense will be used for that purpose. American military personnel have a right to expect that their missions will have something to do with protecting U.S. security, the function they have agreed to serve.

Obama's humanitarian justification for waging war against Qaddafi's regime harks back to George H.W. Bush's 1992 intervention in Somalia's civil war, which ended so ignominiously that his own son, running for president in 2000, repudiated "nation building," calling for a more "humble" foreign policy guided by "what's in the best interest of the United States." He ended up interpreting that interest so broadly that it justified an aggressive nation-building campaign in the Middle East.

As a presidential candidate, Obama condemned his predecessor's "war of choice" in Iraq. As president, he not only continues to wage that war but endorses a justification for military action that promises one war of choice after another.

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist.

© Copyright 2011 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. Good morning reason!

    Ralph Nader says Obama is a war criminal. What say you?

    1. Good morning, Suki!
      I'm not sure Obama is a war criminal, but I think he has likely committed an impeachable offense by sending US forces to carry out acts of war against Libya without congressional authorization.

    2. Jon Stewart was basically blaming the new not-war on the Republicans last night. Pathetic.

      1. The Republicans? Not having seen the bit, I can't even begin to imagine how he decides the republicans are responsible for Obama attacking without getting congressional authorization.

        1. The same way evil Republicans got so many Democrats like John Kerry to vote for the invasion of Iraq. Never underestimate the magic powers of running dog, capitalist counter revolutionaries.

        2. Bingo! The GOP can sit back and watch how things unfold before having to take an official position. If this goes longer than 60 days, Obama will have to get authorization from congress in order to continue his war-mongering.

      2. I watched Stewart for the first time in years, and I don't think that was the point of the bit at all.

        He just showed clips of Republicans demanding a no-fly zone, and then showed clips of Republicans talking about how pissed they were when the no-fly zone was put into place.

        1. The Republicans that he showed were entirely different people.

          1. Doesn't matter.

            All republicans have identical thoughts programmed into them on a daily basis by Fox (with an assist from the Kochtopus).

            That some of them claim to have different ideas just proves the extent of the mind control conspiracy.

            1. Thank you!! Kochtopus and teh Glen Beck mind control nano-machines must be stopped! GOP is pig disgusting! Democrats good republicans bad! Freedom is slavery, war is peace!

      3. Actually, he bit was about Repubs who were calling for air strikes and a no-fly zone before we started and now say that we didn't act fast enough or aren't doing enough. His complaint was that Obama just can't win with the republicans, not that this not-war activity is in any way bad. He did ask whether the rebels we were empowering liked us or not, but wouldn't go so far as to criticize Obama.

        1. Stewart is a dickwad for the ignorant.

      4. Just, if you go honey-dipping yer gonna' get turds...

    3. You don't even need the word "war" in there. Obomba is a plain old across-the-board criminal, period.

      1. Just because he hangs out with criminals like Timmy Geightner and Bill Ayers doesn't mean Obama is a criminal. Lets not go all guilt by association here.

        1. not to mention most in congress

          1. they give new meaning to "cold" cash...

        2. Bill Ayers is actually a pretty cool guy. I met him a month or two ago. He assured me he has since sworn off violence as a means to achieve political ends.

          1. Yeah, but I met him just last week, and he told me the same thing. When I called him a 'sell out pussy', he shook his fist, and shouted 'oh yeah, we'll just see about that!'

            His eyes got glassy, he just stood there and smiled. You could just see the pipe bomb smacking against asphalt in his eyes.

            You right that he is pretty cool though. We spent the rest of the afternoon debating whether or not the silly joke names Pynchon used in The Crying of Lot 49 distracted from the narrative flow.

            I think it did. He said you would stop to laugh at the events in the story anyway so it didn't really matter since it was a comedy. We agreed to disagree, then he bought me a milkshake.

    4. The Constitution doesn't matter because few people know what is says and want to defend it. Bush and Obama both applauded the use of TARP bailout funds to bail out car manufacturers, even though it was supposedly "prohibited" by the legislation. And, Obama fined BP $20b without a trial for spilling oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

      I see no possibility that the government will reduce spending. Voting with your feet is the best solution. Imagine living with a responsible government like Hong Kong, in a Mediterranean climate like California. Chile offers a combination of pleasant climate and fewer government burdens than many others:

      1. The Constitution doesn't matter because few people know what is says and want to defend it.

        Well, it is like a hundred years old or something, and really confusing.

        1. Yeah, you seem to be the brilliant one here...

    5. Nonsense, as much as I despise Obama, it should take more than a few bombs to earn the label "war criminal."

      Nevertheless, what Obama did should be an impeachable offense. War without our permission? Unless you're liberating Grenada from communism, forget about it.

      Hopeless Drama over 10% Cut in HOPE Scholarships.

      1. How about liberating Amerika from communism?

      2. OK, Gregory, there's just no way you can be anything but a troll.

        "Unless the President is named Reagan?" Really? Seriously?

        1. I am not a troll, I'm a politically incorrect libertarian who doesn't give a crap what other people think of me. I'm not here to make friends, just to express my views. If you don't like them, I don't give a crap.

          1. If you really dont give a crap, why do you respond?

            1. Because it's fun and I often like having the last word unless I think the argument is beneath me.

  2. We say it's okay when our guy does it!

    1. What he said!

      1. GO TEAM!

  3. Iraq was always the most Wilsonian of wars. It was and is about affirming the authority of the UN and trying to create democracy in the middle east.

    Those are all things liberals love. Had a Democratic President invaded Iraq, liberals would have embraced Iraq. And indeed many liberals did at least at the beginning.

    Given that, it was inevitable that there would someday be a Democratic President and liberals would inevitably end up supporting what they claimed to hate in the 00s.

    All of the "fierce moral urgency" and "stop this illegal war" stuff was just performance art. They never meant a word of it.

    1. "Iraq was always the most Wilsonian of wars. It was and is about affirming the authority of the UN and trying to create democracy in the middle east."

      John, you really do seem to think everyone is going to just forget that stopping Iraq's WMD threat to us was the main selling point for the war. Remember the mushroom cloud as a smoking gun, the constant reminders of 9/11 changing everything, yada, yada?

      1. Do chemical weapons count as WMDs? Cause if they do, we've been finding them in Iraq since 2003 thru this year.

        You also forget the UN had reports of WMDs, singed off on by Saddam's regime from Gulf War I, he was supposed to account for these to UN inspection teams and kept playing games with that process. He had violated UN resolutions how many times?

        I think you need to do some better research (not to mention analytical thinking), because it's hard to find an excuse not to have gone after Saddam. Unless of course you happen to be a country who got very friendly doing under the table deals (violating UN sanctions) with his regime post-Gulf War I and happen to sit on the security council (France, Germany, Russia).

        In fact Mr. Kofi "let's give Saddam chance #326" Annan's son was making serious $ working with the Iraqis to scam the UN's food for oil program. That's not only a violation of UN sanctions, but gave the Saddam regime extra cash to fund his military and domestic aggression policies, and take away any hope of humanitarian food supply for his impoverished country. I dunno, not my favorite President, but next to the UN, Bush is a saint and held the security council to it's word (even if the rest of them were too busy playing grab ass under the table with Ole Spiderphole).

        Besides if he tried to assassinate your Dad, and you were President, wouldn't you make sure Saddam and his buddies was gone? In fact as Americans, why is there any apprehension in going after a dictator who tried to kill one of our Presidents? Isn't that automatic, does that conflict with your progressive fetish, or do you suffer from Daddy issues?

        Guess you gotta be a real callous, hypocritical clown to bring up the UN, the try to blame Bush for violating their "pious" regulations in regards to Iraq. Your interest in honesty about Iraq is skin deep, and apparently your ability to process a conflict that has been brewing for decades, and has finally helped ease untold oppression and suffering (even if a tiny little bit), all hinges on your misinterpretation and boo-boo feelings from one speech. Clearly your ethical compass is totally broken pal.

        Or is this Kofi Jr. I'm addressing? Let's not have drinks sometime, shall we?

        1. I just don't see a reason to spend American blood and gold (debt) to fight for something the Iraqi people couldn't even be bothered to fight for.

          1. Well I guess that same logic applies to why do people need the fire department to put out fires that they couldn't be bothered to extinguish? I suggest your inability to find reason is a personal issue, rather than a strong political, strategic or even humanitarian one. Further, who cares whether or not you see a reason for something, sometimes you just have to act on the cards dealt, and Saddam needed to go.

            Sure lots of suffering goes unanswered, but the attempt is noble regardless of the outcome. Maybe instead of whining over spilled blood or oil or whatever your favorite analogy, we can appreciate the effort in more enlightened terms, rather than constantly pissing on the sweat & sacrifices our servicemen have and continue to make. Seriously what good does it do? What good did it do? Its nothing new, lots of people whine about wars, and its typically those completely unaffected by them. Do you feel more important now or something?

        2. That's funny, the UN seems to think there were no WMD's in Iraq after 1994.

          And so much for the link between!

          "Besides if he tried to assassinate your Dad"

          First off - [citation needed]
          Secondly - Using the lives of over 3000 servicemen to settle a personal vendetta is never acceptable.
          Third - "why is there any apprehension in going after a dictator who tried to kill one of our Presidents?" Well, why wasn't this done ten years earlier?

          Let me guess, you think there was a link between Saddam and 9-11, no?

          If you think it was OK to spend about a trillion dollars chasing nuclear warheads that didn't exist, while in the process leading to the death of more than 3000 of our servicemembers, I think not only your moral compass, but your common sense is severely missing.

          But let's face it, this is probably why dipshits like you align yourself with Hillary Clintoon and John Kerry in the first place.

          1. and he brings up common sense...

            1. many Iraqi civilians died after our invasion? 100,000 plus?


              Looks like you need some common sense, too.

              1. thank you, thank you!
                i'll be here all weekend!
                no money, just throw Qurans!

          2. Sorry to torpedo your theory, but why was the UN still going thru the motions, sending in weapons inspectors, then having them turned away up until 2003? Maybe you need a better source than USA Today.

            So your initial premise is incorrect, your other about the blood spilled by our volunteer military (who still overwhelming support W) is equally clueless. They take the risks, shoulder the burden in exchange for the pay, and you whine about it later? Then you later complain that our government spends trillions doing this, and how much has it impacted your cushy little life? You're still sitting on your fat butt in the middle of the afternoon, with plenty of time to spend windbagging about the sacrifices of others? You clowns should stick to juggling.

            No, I said nothing about John Kerry or Hillary Clinton or 911, but if that's the best you can do, I suggest tucking that tiny little tail between your legs and finding an appropriate corner to go shiver & whine into.

      2. "John, you really do seem to think everyone is going to just forget that stopping Iraq's WMD threat to us was the main selling point for the war. Remember the mushroom cloud as a smoking gun, the constant reminders of 9/11 changing everything, yada, yada?"

        Yeah, totally different situation.

      3. The opposition to Iraq mainly took off after things went south with the insurgency after the intial fighting was done. Kosovo was along those lines, and everybody was getting restless until we took out their infrastructure, won the war; suddenly, all was well.

        Note to future presidents: all seems to be forgiven and forgotten as long as you look great winning the war.

        As with most wars featuring split support/opposition in the major parties, pundits and politicians will play the result. Like a basketball player taking a shot with a guy in his face, and at a wierd angle, if it goes in, we celebrate and call Obama a genius, if it bricks we protest and call him the opposite.

    2. "It was and is about affirming the authority of the UN"

      By invading without its approval?

      1. By enforced the various UN Security Council Resolutions Saddam violated. If he had been allowed to violate them and then be welcomed back into the itnernational community, what would that say about the usefulness of UN resolutions in the future? Indeed, go back and read Bush's speech to the UN. That was the primary case he made.

        Gadafi in contrast isn't in violation of any UN Resolutions. But, this is still a Wilsonian war just like Iraq was. You just rewite the history of Iraq and pretend WNDs were the only reason given and preclude all other justification because you won't face the truth. And the truth is that liberals didn't mean anything they said about Iraq or George Bush in the 00s.

        If they did, Obama wouldn't be doing the things he is now.

        1. So Iraq was fought for the UN when the UN didn't want it to be fought. Ooookay.

          "Gadafi in contrast isn't in violation of any UN Resolutions."

          Wrong again. This action is, contrary to Iraq, endorsed by the UN Security Council in response to Libya's violation of UN resolution 1970.

          1. He was not in violation of any until the UN passed Resolution 1970. Why is it that you think the UN has the authority over a purely internal civil war? Libya is not a threat to anyone? Gadafi was just killing his own people.

            Libya is a Wilsonian war just like Iraq was. There is no way around it.

            1. In the current resolution the UN concluded he was in violation of 1970 dude, and 1970 authorized action to address such a violation.

              So let's review: yet another distinguishing feature of this conflict and Iraq is one is being fought under an express UN resolution while the other was not.

              1. So let's review: yet another distinguishing feature of this conflict and Iraq is one is being fought under an express UN resolution while the other was not.

                MNG is right. Iraq was authorized by Congress. Libya is "authorized" by the UN.

              2. So the UN now has the authority to declare war? Intervene to overthrow a government that "they" don't like.

                What could possibly go wrong?

                1. Let me be clear, the U.N. said I could!

                2. They hardly ever use this. The touchy feely liberals had a good chance to use this in Rwanda and didn't, and have been clamoring to use this in Darfur but haven't. What could go wrong is nothing because the UN is mostly a hot air factory that does sometimes supply food to the starving in Africa.

      2. It is also funny how you can't get your story straight. IN one rant Iraq is all abou the evil NEOCON war mongers. Well what the fuck do you think the "Neocons" believed? Neocons were the ones who were going to support democracy in the middle east. For them it was supposed to be about the broader project of democratizing the middle east. But you only remember that part when it is convienent.

        1. "Well what the fuck do you think the "Neocons" believed?"

          Actually I think pretty much all many of them believe is strengthening Israel and its position.

          1. Yeah, because they are all a fifth column of Jews? Right. With that statement you have passed over into Pat Buchanan territory.

            1. I voted for Buchanan for President.

              The animating principle for many neocons is a slavish support for Israel. It's not a Jewish thing though, while many neocons are Jewish many are not (Cheney for example), and easily the most uncritical supporters of Israel are evangelical Christian zionists.

              1. I voted for Buchanan for President.

                Duly noted.

                1. People on the internet arguing over invading Iraq due to WMDs? Win The Future, did I wake up in 2002 again?

              2. OK, I get it now, you're a progressive and a paranoid bigot to boot, wooda thunk it?

                You do realize that by double dipping in crazy-talk you've forfeited any expectation of participating in reasonable discourse?

                Besides all I have to do is call up the Zionist Boogieman to deal with you. Oooga, booga, moses, abraham, seinfeld and brooks... Dude better run, you are totally screwed now!

            2. John, there were in fact a subset of neocons who were all "Democracy Yay!" when it furthered Israel's interests vis a vis Iraq, but were all like, "Well, let's not be so hasty!" when Mubarak [and the 79 treaty] was threatened in Egypt.

              It's hard to take that any other way.

              1. a subset of neocons who were all "Democracy Yay!" when it furthered Israel's interests vis a vis Iraq

                What interests?

          2. Because helping the Al Qaeda in the Maghreb-backed Emirate of Barka so helps Israel.
            The Muslim Brotherhood is taking over the Arab world, and they want to destroy Israel. Israel's peace treaty with Egyopt is in tatters. Hamas is geting weapons accross a border that had been secured by Egypt. The AKP/Muslims Brotherhood in Egypt call for war with Israel, just as the AKP Islamist regime in Turkey calls for NATO to bomb Israel. This has been a strategic disaster for Israel, but some people have no other impulse to scream "Jew" or Zionist. They are right up there with Qaddaffi's opponents, who are calling him a Jew and Zionist as they did with Mubarak.

            Many neoconservatives are ideologically wed to the global democracy dream to such a degree that they are now aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood in the "Arab Spring". That these revolutions help Al Qaeda and have seriously undermined the strategic position of both the US and Israel is not relevant. Only Democracy is. This is not a Jewish issue. I almost wish it were, because if they were "Israel Firsters", they would not be undermining American and Israeli security now. In 2003, Democratizing the Arab world was an illogical position, but somewhat excusable as it had not been tried. Today, it is a failure of ideology and reality, but neoconservatives cannot see reality.

  4. Obama is a con artist - has been from at least the time he was a senator. He'll say anything at all, if it will suit his purpose at the moment.

    1. And that's different than every other politician, how?

      1. because he's black.

        1. Obama's black? I thought he was a halfy.

          1. A daywalker?

            1. The proper term is Choco-nilla.

      2. And that's different than every other politician, how?

        1) The media automatically give him a pass, never call him on his bullshit.

        2) Other politicians occasionally tell the truth. Obama never does. It's like he's internalized that leftist bullshit about truth being an artificial imperialist construct.

  5. But Jacob, he talked to at least two members of Congress before we started bombing freeing the shit out of Libya. If that isn't building a consensus, then I guess I don't know what is.

  6. It seems to me that a skilled politician could easily exploit these latest events.

    Is the time finally ripe for a candidate promising no more wars, reduced spending overseas, and reduced entitlements? The polls all seem to be leaning that way, but most politicians can't navigate that field in their own parties. Perhaps, these latest developments make the landscape much easier to navigate.

    1. Ron Paul on the Michael Smerconish show last night refused to say that he would not run for president.

  7. obama can't be doing this for the reason he said. I believe these are the reasons, one, to put the US under the control of foreigners, to reduce sovereignty. so instead of going to congress and getting a resolution, he went to the euros and the arab league. Now he hints the latter should direct our troops. Two, to get rid of Ghadaffi who is not pro al quada,though he is an enemy of the west, and replace him with the rebels who are probably al quaeda. Whatever they are, it is guaranteed that they will be even more anti western than Ghadaffi. why? because obama's loyalties are there, not with the US or the west. It can't be humanitarian, horrible things are happening in the Ivory Coast and Congo. They get no help, not to mention the black Sudanese. Whatever obama's reasons are, they are not pro western or pro american.

    the US has done a strange thing, not done by any other nation or people. the US elected an enemy president who sets no value on the country or the people. That is earning the US and him much contempt.

    1. YEAH!

      (or perhaps he's just caught up in the machine of government that's been doing the same thing for years. By you definition, Bush was an "enemy president" who didn't value the country or its people.)

      1. Yeah, I don't think we need to come up with nefarious motives as an explanation when simple stupidity and incompetence will suffice.

        1. I think this is more ideology and ego than stupidity and incompetence. Stupidity and incompetence is more of a bureaucrat thing than a politician thing...

          Does ego count as a nefarious motive?

          1. I would have to say "Yes".

          2. Well, I guess it could be stupidity, incompetence, ideology, and ego. They are not mutually exclusive, after all.

      2. Bush did not have alien sympathies. he did not travel the world explaining how much he disdained the US. That is one thing that is really causing the world to despite Obama, which is why these allies, so called, Nato and the arab league have refused to help in Libya. Even as they use Obama's anti his own nation (but I guess it is not his own nation in his eyes) they scorn him for it and us.

        Bush always supported the pro US, pro western, pro judeo christian side. Obama is a different story.

        One increasing problem in the US and the west is that liberals have succeeded in teaching many of us that we don't deserve a culture, an identity, traditions, national symbols, holidays, religion and other things by which humanity defines itself. And these prescriptions apply to the west only, not to anyone else. It can't go on forever. That is why Le Pen is getting so much support in France.

        1. Maybe not so much a judeo Christian thing, perhaps it's more of a post-enlightenment, lightbulb and flushing toilet (excluding Europe on this of course) camaraderie?

          As far as Obama goes, he's a harder core Christian than Bush, while W was doing coke and drinking, O spent 20 years going to the same creepy Christian church. That's why it's hysterical to see anti-Christian bigots freak out over Bush, but totally ignore Obama's longer history of the same, and likely even more fundamentalist, Christian beliefs and practices. Creepy huh?

          1. I believe that Obama attended that church cuz it was the thing to do, to meet and mix with people he thought could help him get ahead. Same reason my husband's family joined one of the Episcopal churches in Westchester County. It's all about connections, not about religious beliefs.

            1. Well I suspect you are correct, but rather than guess at his secret motivations, he's presented himself as a hardcore Christian and his supporters are just going to have to deal with it. Don't they have room in their 'zionist' conspiracy fantasies for one more? If they take him at his word on health care (well health care insurance really) then they have to take him at his word on the Jeezoid thing too.

      3. Change

  8. We need to go back to isolationist policies of the early 20th century.

    1. early 20th? u mean where ur thoughts come from?

      1. What, are you commenting from a cellphone?

        1. yep, try it sometime gramps

      2. Well why not? It would be right at home with your 1918 political philosophy.

    2. There's a difference between isolationism and non-interventionism.

      1. Isolationism has always been a slur used against non interventionists.

        America has never, ever been a hermit kingdom and never will be.

  9. Politician says one thing while running for office, does another once in office.


    1. In other news: The Pope is Catholic.

      1. YOU LIE!!

      2. But does he shit in the woods?

  10. By the way, it turns out that according to our military, about 20% of the foreign fighters who our troops captured in Iraq over the years were from Libya, with most of them coming from the eastern part of the country.

    So some of our putative new "allies" in the Libyan civil war are almost certainly guys who just a few years ago were trying to kill our troops in Iraq. Isn't that just great?

    1. are you saying we cannot become friendly w people we previously fought?

      1. We think that's what he's saying.

      2. Hello piss facktery!

        Comprehension fail so early in the morning? Sad face....:(

        No, that's not what he said. Thanks for bringing the stupid, Urine!!

        1. the FRG & jay pan dont agree tard.

          1. Too bad they can't read, either. "tard"

            1. u &46; (*$ dt @pos

              1. didnt know you were gay

          2. friend!
            (sticks out left hand)

      3. I have no doubt we can be friends with people we've fought. We just need to soundly and violently defeat them. I didn't think you'd be the one to advocate carpet bombing and deploying nuclear weapons though.

    2. The king that Gaddafi overthrew was also from the Eastern region. The rest of the country was unhappy with the King, because he displayed quite a bit of favoritism to his respective tribal lands. The Eastern region is more religiously conservative than the rest of the country, and is home to the first Muslim Brotherhood organization to be established outside of Egypt.

  11. Obama claims "we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy."

    Careful what you ask for.

    1. we cannot stand idly by

      Hey! That's my threat!

      1. We will not stand idly by as Hit & Run buffoons misspell our name.

        1. Preach on, sister!

          1. That bitch be syphillicious.

            1. ** golf clap ** 😉

  12. Many of Obama's critics seem to be engaged in a "gotcha" game of pretty simplistic equivocation by conflating the invasion/occupation of a country with providing air strikes in support of a no-fly zone. Iirc we enforced a no-fly zone over Iraq for years before the invasion, and while some on the left decried it and the accompanying sanctions for the most part it was uncontroversial.

    Conflating an occupation/invasion with these strikes is like equating farting with crapping your pants because both are smelly.

    1. An unprovoked act of war, is an unprovoked act of war. Would the government firing a Tomahawk into your house be any different then them sending the National Guard into your house to kill you?

      1. Well, the Tomahawk missile costs about a million times more than a soldier firing a bullet- and that gives us an economic stimulus.

        1. True - Tomahawk? Missiles don't build themselves

      2. And farting and crapping your pants are both smelly events. I hope you don't equate the two though.

        1. And farting and crapping your pants are both smelly events. I hope you don't equate the two though.

          Neither is the result of unprovoked violence. Dead is dead. What part of that don't you understand?

          1. My point is flying over your head like a F-16 enforcing the no-fly zone. Let me break it down for you: your argument is air strikes=invasion because both involve deadly force and I say that is like saying farting=crapping your pants because both are smelly events. Yes, they both fall into that broad category but only a moron cannot see any possibly relevant differences between the two events.

            1. No, only a fucking moron can't see that bombs and missiles kill just as well as troops firing bullets. You are trying to justify killing with no provocation. I don't give a fuck how you try to dress it up. The only difference is the means. Both kill. One is no better, or worse, than the other.

              1. Thats right, and farts and crapped pants both smell bad. So I guess anyone who farts but doesn't crap their pants is a hypocrite of some sort.

                1. Thats right, and farts and crapped pants both smell bad. So I guess anyone who farts but doesn't crap their pants is a hypocrite of some sort.

                  You have been using that analogy a lot lately. Are you in need of Mag Citrate and Beano?

                  1. Spot on, DNS. He really does talk about farts and shitting way too much.

                2. Thats right, and farts and crapped pants both smell bad.

                  Different actions, different results.

                  Somebody who gets hit wit a bullet, is dead. Someone who gets bombed is dead. Different actions, same fucking result.

                  Now, for a lesson on similes and metaphors.....

                  1. You don't see the results of an invasion as different than the results of enforcing a no-fly zone? Dude, check out the cost in lives and expenses for enforcing the Iraqi no-fly zone and our invasion.

                    1. the oil paid for the invasion

                    2. Thanks for the stimulus Barry!

                    3. 100 dead is better than 1,000 dead.

                    4. Most people do not CHOOSE to fart or shit their pants, unless they are playing "pull my finger", which is MNG's favorite game.

                    5. What are you talking about?

                      Farting is right up there with waste can basketball as a pastime in my office.

                    6. "invasion" and "enforcing no fly zone" are spelled and pronounced differently.

                3. Damn - is this really MNG? Because this is down on Tony-level stupidity.

                4. Your Neocons and Zionists are near, better run little MNG, or they're gunna getcha.

                  Just curious, but do you actually get a diploma at clown college or is it just a pie in the face?

                  1. why is someone racist for mentioning zionism, but never for making jokes about the race of the prez? i can never read a single thread on here w/o seeing words like "halfsy" or "choco-nilla." what is so libertarian about racial jokes?

                    1. Its not, Jimmy, but imagining fantasy zionist plots and neocon agendas is the work of a bigot, not of a rational person. He's concocting imaginary boogiemen from groups he irrationally fears and dislikes, and using it to reinforce his biases and further demonize them. Hence he's a bigot, and forfeits rational discourse and common civility when he start jabbering like a klan monkey.

                    2. "imagining fantasy zionist plots and neocon agendas is the work of a bigot, not of a rational person."

                      Says you, Jew-o-phile

              2. MNG believes that the government is an omnipotent god.

                So all his god has to do to enforce a no fly zone is say it and it will be so.

                No need to actually achieve air supremacy by destroying the enemies assets or fly sorties and shoot down people that actually oppose you or any other associated nastiness.

    2. "while some on the left decried it and the accompanying sanctions for the most part it was uncontroversial."

      You either live in a fantasy world or you are the biggest lying sack of shit in God's green earth. I am betting on the latter. The sanctions and no fly zone were not controversial?

      The Lancet[44] and Unicef studies observed that child mortality decreased in the north and increased in the south between 1994 and 1999 but did not attempt to explain the disparity, or to apportion culpability: "Both the Government of Iraq and the U.N. Sanctions Committee should give priority to contracts for supplies that will have a direct impact on the well-being of children," UNICEF said.[26] However, others did attempt to explain this disparity, or use this to apportion culpability. In The Nation, 2001, David Cortright argued that Iraqi government policy, rather than the UN Sanctions, should be held responsible. He wrote:

      The differential between child mortality rates in northern Iraq, where the UN manages the relief program, and in the south-center, where Saddam Hussein is in charge, says a great deal about relative responsibility for the continued crisis. As noted, child mortality rates have declined in the north but have more than doubled in the south-center. ... The tens of thousands of excess deaths in the south-center, compared to the similarly sanctioned but UN-administered north, are also the result of Baghdad's failure to accept and properly manage the UN humanitarian relief effort.[9]

      In The New Republic, 2001, Michael Rubin argued that

      The difference [t]here is that local Kurdish authorities, in conjunction with the United Nations, spend the money they get from the sale of oil. Everywhere else in Iraq, Saddam does. And when local authorities are determined to get food and medicine to their people--instead of, say, reselling these supplies to finance military spending and palace construction--the current sanctions regime works just fine. Or, to put it more bluntly, the United Nations isn't starving Saddam's people. Saddam is.[10]

      They were extremly controversial

      1. " and while some on the left decried it"

        Reading, John, reading. As important as spelling...

        1. What are you talking about? Your spell checker says nothing about your own intelligence.

          Remember that you spelled neocon and Zionist correctly within your crazy little bigoted tantrum, but you're still a loon. How do you figure that... Oh wait... Look out its Megatron! Oops never mind, he's a decepticon, not a neocon.

          Do you worry about Autobots though? Bumblebee might be a Zionist settler and a ultra-mega-turbo conservative fundamentalist bent on getting all Christian with you! Never survive that holiday gift giving or the bombardment of lethal easter eggs.

    3. Basically, you are left to argue that it is okay to bomb a country but not okay to invade it. That seems to be a pretty silly distinction. But you are a generally silly person, so that is not surprising.

      More importantly, it is a distinction that will become more moot with every passing day. What is the end state here? Without committing ground forces, it seems very unlikely that Gadafi will leave power. So all we seem to be doing is prolonging a civil war and enforcing a bloddy stale mate. Maybe for a day or a week that is no big deal. But as time goes on it becomes a bigger and bigger deal. It is hard to see how that is somehow better than just invading and getting it over with.

      Is it your position that it is best to condemn the people of Libya to the face suffered by the people of Iraq during the ten years of UN Sanctions and no fly zones?

      1. "Basically, you are left to argue that it is okay to bomb a country but not okay to invade it."

        It's wrong to do both at times, and right to do both at times. For example I think it was OK to bomb and invade Japan in WWII. But my point is that there can be situations where it may be OK to bomb where it would be wrong to invade. Why? Because one can distinguish between the two.

        1. "But my point is that there can be situations where it may be OK to bomb where it would be wrong to invade."

          And other than to say "this is it because I could never admit that Bush wasn't evil and Obama isn't right" you offer no reason to think this is such a situation. Again, how does this end? It appears that we are just going to condemn the people of Libya to a never ending stalemate and UN sanction regime.

          1. I'm not sure I support this John. I do think it is far less objectionable than Iraq and that hinges on some big differences between the two. Invasions involve far more expense and risk to American lives than air strikes. If we invade Libya and liberals cheer our entry then you have a case.

            1. You are right, firing a few missiles is not invading. It is in priciple but not in practice. But every day this goes on, the more it is a "war" by any reasonable definition.

            2. MNG|3.23.11 @ 9:16AM|#
              I'm not sure I support this John. I do think it is far less objectionable than Iraq and that hinges on some big differences between the two.

              One of the differences being that Chimpy McBushitler got congressional authorization to use force against Iraq, while Obama did not get any congressional approval to commit acts of war against Libya.

              1. Ya know MNG isn't operating on a full deck, and that kind of factual detail is likely to break his fragile grip on reality. He's really scared of neocons, orcs and that Harry Potter kid, so anything he blames on them is obviously held to a different set of standards in his progressive magical mental circus.

            3. "Invasions involve far more expense and risk to American lives than air strikes."

              Consequentialist coward.

        2. "For example I think it was OK to bomb and invade Japan in WWII"

          It's true. You can look up his posts from 1942 on the Reason archives.

            1. For example I think it was OK to bomb and invade Japan in WWII

              Libya sank a US Naval group? Those dirty motherfuckers!

              1. Jefferson attacked Libya in the early 1800s. FDR and the Allies conquered it in 1943 as part of the Africa campaign.
                Reagan bombed it in 1986 and now Obama.
                They should be used to it by now.

                1. Can I still sing at the anniversary celebrations?

            2. Dang man, you SF'd the whole damn post.

              What happened, was your comment bombing rebels?

              1. I'm not sure what I did. It previewed fine and then disappeared..

                1. It was so nasty it deleted itself. Your posts have become self aware.

                2. Tee shee!

      2. Without committing ground forces, it seems very unlikely that Gadafi will leave power. So all we seem to be doing is prolonging a civil war and enforcing a bloddy stale mate.

        And it's only a matter of time before our new Al Queda buddies in eastern Libya decide that that was our goal all along and use it as a reason for increased hatred of the US.

        Obama is creating anti-american terrorists.

        1. How many politicians are NOT creating anti-american terrorists?

      3. "Basically, you are left to argue that it is okay to bomb a country but not okay to invade it. That seems to be a pretty silly distinction. But you are a generally silly person, so that is not surprising."

        Just like it is OK to shoot someone from long range, but not to stab them in the throat. See how simple that was!

    4. The administration has failed to articulate a concrete goal for this action. One day it's humanitarian aid for the civilian population, the next day it is the ouster of the current regime. Under these circumstances there is a very real threat that our mission will "creep" into a ground mission, kind of like what happened in Iraq.

      1. Now that I agree with. I said last week that the problem with this kind of thing is that it tends to creep into a broader, more involved adventurism.

        1. Mission creep occurs because you can't be a little bit at war any more than you can be a little bit pregnant.

          1. You can be a "little bit" at war. It's just a betrayal of every taxpayers and, more importantly, a betrayal of every active service member. Being a "little bit" at war is easy now that we've stopped declaring war altogether.

            If the rebels can end this quickly then our mission creep will be limited to the establishment of a military base in Libya. If the rebels can't win quickly, then our mission creep will likely be much less pleasant.

            1. Until we realize that those that we are helping now are the same radical folks that we've been trying to neutralize after they started killing our civilians. I'm guessing Obama was light on the poli-sci classes at Harvard (or do they even have a department worth a shit there?).

      2. Reminds me of the individual mandate. It's a tax, unless it's a fine.

    5. The no-fly zone over Iraq was a result of the armistice of the '91 Gulf War. It was a continuation of that Congressional authorization of military force. The closest most recent parallel is Clinton's adventure in the Balkans.

    6. remember Sherman's march and how he killed so many thousands of southerners? Was Lincoln attacking his own people? Should the arabs have sent aid to the south? I would think liberals had had enough of interference with foreigners. Obama has nothing to say on the outcome of this, either because he does not know or he knows but it is bad for the US and that has been his plan all along.

    7. You are assuming that the no-fly zone is going to be the end of the matter.

      I am making no such assumption. I'd like to think that the President wouldn't decide to go ahead and commit ground troops to this while we're still in Iraq and Afghanistan. However I'd also like to think that the President wouldn't have committed any assets to a Libyan Civil War while we're still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      I see how THAT turned out.

    8. Those of us who are criticizing him for conducting war without a Congressional declaration of same or, at a minimum, some form of Congressional authorization, don't really have to consider which specific type of act of war he committed against a nation that hadn't attacked us, since it's beside the point.

  13. Nice 'splosion!

    1. Michael Bay would need it to be superimposed on some major world monument. Think of a tidal wave tossing the Washington monument like a javeline into Mt. Rushmore.

      1. How fucking cool would THAT be??!!

        1. On it.

          1. Whose eye do you aim for?

          2. Ooh, ooh...don't aim at an eye, aim for George's mouth and have it stick out like a fatty until the next wave comes along with the Statue of Liberty to light it from her torch!

  14. Interestingly enough most Americans seem to see the difference between air strikes and invasion as a very relevant one...


    1. What is the difference?

    2. Yeah well, help me out because the No Fly Zone has entailed bombing tanks and artillery pieces, not just SAM sites and runways. We are acting as an air force, clearing the way for the rebels to follow up.

      1. And sending in Marines, if what the latest news I heard is correct.

        1. Yeah, we're gonna need a link on that.

          1. He might referring to the Marine search and rescue mission for the downed pilots. Which is totally not an invasion if they never put those dreaded boots of theirs on the ground. I mean, do want you want from the air, but BOOTS and they are on THE GROUND? That's the magical formula that makes it a party foul.


              We are sending 2200 of them. It sounds an awful lot like an invasion to me.


              We are sending 2200 of them. It sounds an awful lot like an invasion to me.

              1. So, MNG was full of shit. As always. Shocking.

              2. No. Can't be. They must be staying aboard ship.

                1. Jet packs! That way they'll never touch the ground with their boots and it won't be an invasion.

                  No wait... BAREFOOT MARINES! I am a genius!

                  1. Really, can even Obama be this dumb?

                    1. 2014

                      The long awaited surge has reached into this coastal city, long regarded as Al Queda stronghold. Troops supported by helicopter gunships flooded the streets and were going door to door looking for insurgents and weapons.
                      Violence spike last month after the last British and French garrisons withdrew and now US forces are trying to replicate their 2007 Baghdad strategy...

      2. Isn't that the sort of thing we do before committing ground forces?

    3. It's OK to blast away from the air or sea, but "occupying" with "boots on the ground" is a no-no? I understand there are logistical and psychological differences with a "land war", but I suspect they're relatively minor when you're actually at the pointy end.

      1. See, 9/11 wasn't an attack on the United States, it was a humanitarian mission.

        Al-queda was trying to protect the civilian population from the sinister corporations and the evil bankers.


    4. If you want to know the difference between "air strikes and invasion" just go ask a couple of dead Libyan civilians. Boy, do they smell like victory in the morning. Mission accomplished you say?

      1. can you spell collateral?

      2. but do they smell like farts or shits?

    5. If all we need is popularity to show legitimacy of military action the there this from the simpler:

      But that's far less than the number who thought it was very important to oust Saddam Hussein from power in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2002.

    6. What MNG is trying to say is that a small sample of Americans took a survey outside a diner or movie theater, which doesn't speak for the majority, but serves as a 'fact substitute' when pushing an agenda in news reporting.

      No wonder the confusion, he's a bigot and has problems outside of fantasy.

      1. Dude, you are really immature.

  15. These politicians are such slime buckets, most of the times not only do they sit idly by, but they have active relations with these tyrants.

    1. "active Relations with these tyrants"? Are you talking about gay midget porn again?

  16. What's the difference? Is there a difference if I put a bullet in your brain or bash your skull in with a baseball bat?

    1. That comment was to MNG

      Interestingly enough most Americans seem to see the difference between air strikes and invasion as a very relevant one...

      1. Unless one bases one morals on what the majority of Americans think, what is the difference ? This is another act of war.

        1. Again with the talismanic recitation "they are all acts of war!" Well, yeah, but there are acts of war and acts of war. Mining a harbor is an act of war and detonating a nuke in a capital is too, but what kind of goofball thinks there are no possibly relevant differences between these two "acts of war."

          1. There might be relevant differences in play here, but then it is incombent on you to spell out what they are. Just saying "most Americans" support the one but not the other doesn't cut it. Most Americans, probably, look at it solely from the perspective of harm to US personnel. But no proper moral or legal argument can be based solely on that criteria. As for the legality, OK, sure the UN called for a no fly zone and for all steps necessary to prevent civilian casualties. But it did not call for the use of air power to provide ground support for rebel offensives, which is what seems to be going on here. So, even under international law (and I'm just eliding the issue of whether the UNSC has itself violated international law, including the UN charter), the case is shaky. Under US constitutional law, there is also a case to be made against this action, as Congress has not declared war and bombing another country is surely an act of war (all scatalogical metaphors to the contrary notwithstanding).

            On the moral side, we have the issue of, yet again, Great Power, Western military interference in the internal affairs and right of self determination of non Western nations. The Westphalian notion of State sovereignty is not merely a legal one, it also embodies a recognition that armed intervention in the affairs of another country is usually a bad idea, morally speaking. It deprives the people of the country on the recieving end of autonomy and dignity. It is playing God. It is hubristic. It almost always backfires, no matter what the noble intentions. And the noble intentions themselves, when examined, usually break down into power politics. Thus, the "right to protect" always seems to be invoked against countries and rulers that are seen as defying the Western "consensus." Countries that serve the interests of the West, such as Bahrain and Yemen, to give just two current examples, don't seem to merit the same treatment, even though they too are "killing their own people," are not "democratic" and so on. That leads most thinking people to conclude that the moral justification for the intervention is not the real motive. It's a figleaf. A handy pretense for a power play.

            Does any of the above matter to you? Or are you simply going to continue to say, "Well, it's not an actual invasion (yet), so it's no big deal"?

          2. MNG|3.23.11 @ 9:13AM Well, yeah, but there are acts of war and acts of war.

            You mean like 'rape' vs. 'rape-rape'? Are you channeling Whoopi here? Or is it more like "Well, there's pregnant, and then there's pregnant"? Seriously, MNG, I generally disagree with you, but your arguments are usually a little smarter than this.

            1. Go easy on him. It's not easy to deal with the fact that he and his team put someone into office that's more Bush than Bush. The levels of cognitive dissonance required to deal with it have to be emotionally scarring.

          3. I dunno MNGie, you're the authority of goofballs, who knows what kind of answers idiots invent for their idiotic esoteric questions about warfare.

            However, I'm sure you've got a whole bunch of wild bigoted assumptions mixed up in there.

            1. Travel Agent,
              Don't you have some matzoh ball soup to drown yourself in?

  17. Don't underestimate the importance of 'fenq shui' in international affairs.

    James Hoban, an irishman, designed the oval office to focus a blood lust on its occupant. He assumed the blood lust would be focused on the Brits, but Andrew Jackson, a well-known warlock, added a curse to the oval office's already considerable powers, that only the blood of brown people would satiate the occupant.

    None of the office's occupants have been able to resist its powers. Jimmy Carter, like Hoover and others, had the Secret Service bring him hobos to strangle to hold the blood lust in check. Obama seems particularly susceptiable to the office's powers. Normally the daily combat reports from Afghanistan and Drone killings in Warzistan would have sasiated him. Perhaps the Afghan and Pakistan blood wasn't "brown" enough, or perhaps his kenyan ancestery is prone to witchcraft.

    What is demonstrated is that his blood lust is increasing and god help us if this third conflict doesn't satisfy his killing fever.

    1. He probably golfs and vacations so much to stay away from the room that makes him want to kick his own ass.

    2. What is this I don't even

      1. Do you have a better explaination?
        "oooh, the girls made me do it."

  18. What is our goal? Obama said that Quaddafi has to go, while the Pentagon is saying that we are not trying to take him out.
    And how does destroying tanks equate to enforcing a no fly zone?

    1. Let me be clear.

      2012 cannot come soon enough.

    2. And how does destroying tanks equate to enforcing a no fly zone?

      Cause after the tanks are hit with missiles, they stop flying through the air when they hit the ground again?

      ?? Just guessing...

  19. The last time we had a situation this fucked up the president was doing his intern.
    Michelle have you checked up on Barrack lately?
    Sure, he's in Rio on business. Sure he is.

    1. At least he didn't say he was "hiking in the Adirondacks" (wink wink)

      1. Or "clearing brush" (wink wink)

        1. DILMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. ZOMG NEWS FLASH: Liz Taylor died.

    FINALLY. Rest in peace, you once-gorgeous freak.

    1. Together forever.

      1. one, big, freakish, dysfunctional family.

      2. I am think Liz probably wants her old body back and to get laid in the hereafter. That would kind of preclude you Jacko.

    2. She was threatening civilians, she had to go.

  21. Lose the chimp Jacko!

    1. IMPOSTER!

      1. Piss off!

  22. Morning links are up, time to go raise hell over there.

  23. Just heard a nice sentiment from Jim Carafano to the effect that neocons go to war when there is any perceived American interest and liberals go to war when there is no perceived American interest.

    1. My strong suspicion is that it was really the Europeans and not Hillary Clinton or anyone else within the administration who talked Obama into changing his mind.

      The Europeans are the ones after all who heavily depend on the steady supply of oil from Libya, and they clearly were eager for this operation to get going.

      1. I really think it was the UN approval. The jackass thinks that is more important than getting approval from Congress.

  24. We've always been at war with Libya...just like Oceania...or are they our allies and we've always been at war with East Asia?

  25. Oh, you missed Joe Biden saying that Bush bombing Iran without Congressional approval would be grounds for impeachment. Waaaayyy back in 2007. Of course, that was sooooo long ago, and everything is different now.

    Biden: Impeachment if Bush bombs Iran

    1. bombing iraq produced mission now. so its ok

      1. Afghanistan had Congressional authorization.

        Iraq had Congressional authorization.

        That's the problem with calling these wars "Bush's war" (or more recently with Afghanistan, "Obama's war"). Both were authorized by Congress. Both could be defunded or simply stopped by Congress at any time. Using those terms and always "forgetting" to mention Congress's part in this creates an impression with the general public that the President is a free actor who can take almost any military action on his own without authorization. I think that's dangerous.

        1. Great point. I would argue that any resolution passed by congress, and authorizes the military to use force, is a declaration of war.

          The constitution gives the power to declare war to the congress, along with the power to establish the rules for the government and to regulate the Army and Navy.

          The constitution does not state how the congress must declare war. The War Powers Act is a rule created by the congress that regulates when and how the military can be used.

    2. This was all a cunning setup by Biden to get the presidency himself after Obama gets impeached.

  26. Hi,reanson!
    I'm from China, I have to admit I am really confused by Obama's decsion on striking Lybia, and how can he strike this country without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? Wasn't him illegla?

    1. Yes, we talk a good game but the big boss just does what he wants anyway.

    2. Wasn't him illegla?

      Oh no, a birther! 😉

      1. A birther? I actually know that he was born in Hawaii, so I don't really catch your point.

    3. Yep. He presumably violated his oath and his obligation to this country in order to better serve an undemocratic foreign government (the UN, specifically). Technically, this is treason. Good luck doing anything about it.

  27. Many of Obama's critics seem to be engaged in a "gotcha" game of pretty simplistic equivocation by conflating the invasion/occupation of a country with providing air strikes in support of a no-fly zone.

    So, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor wasn't an act of war because they didn't put boots on the ground?

    Iirc we enforced a no-fly zone over Iraq for years before the invasion,

    Leaving aside quibbles about AUMF v. Declaration of War, at least it had Congressional authorization.

    The funny thing about Bush's invasion of Iraq was that he already had the Congressional authority to do so under the Gulf War I resolutions. That war never ended, it was merely suspended under a cease-fire that saw constant military activity (the no-fly zone).

    1. The funny thing about Bush's invasion of Iraq was that he already had the Congressional authority to do so under the Gulf War I resolutions. That war never ended, it was merely suspended under a cease-fire that saw constant military activity (the no-fly zone).

      Given that they never openly declared war it would seem an invasion 12 years later goes WAY beyond the authorization given. Just saying.

  28. at a time when fiscal realities dictate that America retire from its job as global policeman.

    Well, we aren't asking the rich to sacrifice a single dime of their Bush welfare checks to help Americans, why should they be asked to do the same to help people overseas?

    1. We aren't asking the middle class to sacrifice any of their "Bush welfare checks" either, and the potential revenue from those are estimated at 10x those from the "rich".

    2. Tony|3.23.11 @ 10:19AM|#
      "lies and Kos talking points"

      Good start on the day, Tony.

    3. Helped out plenty overseas, right?

  29. I'm somewhat ambivalent on this police action. I don't give a shit for the "rebels". I have no fucking idea who they are. I sort of like wars in general. Blowing up shit appeals to me. I really think that Obama has proven to be a useless, dickless, "leader". Which I understand can sometimes be better than a "useful" one.

    Nevertheless, I sort of feel that once we found out that Quadaffi was involved in the Lockerbie bombing, we should have taken him out. I'm hoping that someone is really targeting him, while officially saying they're not. You know, kill him and then let the whole thing go to pieces on its own.

    1. blowing up people who like war appeals to me.

      1. I know what you mean. I'm not proud of the fact that I like to see stuff blown up. I'm not ashamed of it either. Sort of ambivalent on the subject.

  30. I still don't get the assumption that if the President had to go to Congress to get permission to fight a war, then Congress would necessarily deny him the privilege.

    I think the situation we're in right now, where the President can commit neither ground troops nor much in the way of treasure to Libya--because he doesn't have Congressional authorization--is a pretty good place to be in.

    If he sought that authorization, I'm not sure they'd withhold it. In other words, it seems to me that from a nonintervention standpoint, we may not be improving our hand by insisting on Congressional authorization...

    What if they give it to him? How is having the flexibility to commit ground troops better than not having the authorization to commit ground troops?

    1. I actually think Obama has taken this exact position into consideration. He wants to hand this off to the international coalition ASAP. He is likely to use the lack of congressional authorization as an excuse to keep our role "limited." Too bad his image of "limited" is so damned expansive.

    2. "I think the situation we're in right now, where the President can commit neither ground troops nor much in the way of treasure to Libya--because he doesn't have Congressional authorization--is a pretty good place to be in."

      No, it's a pretty stupid place to be in. If you are going to take military action, you make sure that you can use all the tools available to achieve the oblective, or you do not intervene in first place. This half-assed toe in the water stuff does not provide cover that the USA is not intervening nor does it prevent mission creep if the action goes pear shaped.

      While I do not think the US should be involved, if we are going to be then you commit fully to completing the objective with whatever force is necessary. If the President is unable to bring a rationale before Congress that we should be using military force, then he has no legitimate rationale and should not be using the military at all.

      1. It's not a black and white world we live in.

        If you don't want to be in an investment, but you can't get out completely?

        Being in less is better than being in more.

        As I've demonstrated a number of times over the past few days, history tells us that if we don't declare war and don't commit ground troops, then we're generally not responsible for what happens afterward.

        Not being responsible for what happens afterward is better than committing ground troops or declaring war--in my estimation...

        So that's one of the reasons I would oppose the president seeking Congressional authorization--I think he has a good chance of getting it!

        ...and if he does, we may never get out of Libya! If he doesn't even seek an authorization? We may be out of there forever in two weeks.

        1. You do not understand. You are hiding behind legal technalicalities and think that they matter. We are in this fight, and we are responsible for what happens afterward as a result of our actions. I think you are being terribly naive if you do not see that. Frankly, as a practical matter, Obama can commit ground troops now if he wants or the coalition demands it, because Congress is unlikely deny the President now that we have military assets committed. Not having a Congressional authorization prevents mission creep to the same extent a tissue paper prophylactic will prevent you from getting the clap.

          If the action does not justify seeing the goal all the way through, then it does not justify any commitment of forces at all.

          1. It's not about being naive. It's about history.

            Why were we not responsible for Somalia after we finally left? Why were we not responsible for what happened in Serbia after we bombed?

            To some extent, it's because we acted within the context of the UN or NATO, but it's also because we didn't declare war.

            We still have troops just about everywhere we've declared war since and including the Spanish-American War.

            The places we didn't declare war? We don't have much in the way of responsibility.

            We haven't broken the Pottery Barn Rule yet. Putting troops on the ground would be running right up against the Pottery Barn Rule, but declaring war would break definitely break that rule.

            At least it has always worked that way in the past. And that isn't naive--that's reality.

            The slippery slope is a logical fallacy--and trying to get the president an authorization from Congress, which will supposedly circumscribe what the president can do? That's naive.

            John Boehner's old guard, Bush the Lesser era Republicans will not deny Obama the authority to do what Bush the Lesser did. Obama's own Democrats aren't about to clip their own president's wings either.

            For Pete's sake, declaring war is more involvement--not declaring is less. If we don't want to be responsible for Libya forever more, then we should oppose calls for the president to get a formal declaration. Less involvement means less involvement--declaring war means more.

  31. 1)This was a bad decision...the US should not be directly involved. While I would support the US supporting the Arab League and the Europeans if they decided to act to enforce the UN resolution 1973, I think our role should never have gone beyond logistical support.

    2) Even if you squint really hard to see this as fitting within the parameters of the war powers resolution, Congress will need to act soon to authorize this or US troops will need to disengage. The Congress would be wise to direct the president to heed the window from that resolution (we won't get into the constitutional questions around the war powers resolution).

    3) Comparisons to Bush's invasion of Iraq seem inapt to say the least. The first thing that came to my mind was our invasion of Panama (Operation Nifty Package) to arrest Noriega. At least in that illegal war we had a clear objective.

  32. He wants to hand this off to the international coalition ASAP.

    Too bad the coalition is steadfastly refusing to take it off his hands. And if someone else does step up and take formal military control, that just puts our forces under foreign command, which will not be popular.

    Because without US forces, there is no no-fly zone. I'm sure the Brits and French could continue to provide some close-air support to the rebels on their own, but I don't think that they can protect a rebel enclave indefinitely without the US.

    He is likely to use the lack of congressional authorization as an excuse to keep our role "limited."

    That's his best-case scenario, namely, that other countries backfill for the US so we can step away. What if they don't (as seems certain)? After we've been at war with Libya for weeks or months, he goes to Congress and says "I thought this would be easy, but I was wrong, and now I need you to approve it?"

    1. Yup. Since Germany seems to be the smart ones, and decided to sit this one out, that leaves only the UK and France as the remaining members of the "coalition of the willing" with any reasonable level of military power.

      Considering that the United States Navy has a greater number of fighter aircraft than these two countries combined, highly unlikely that UN forces alone could maintain a no-fly-zone.

      This opens a bigger question. What happens if Gaddafi is removed from power? Who will have the "moral imperative" to secure the country during the time it takes to establish a new government structure? The non-US members of the UN do not have the troop strength to perform such a task.

    2. I agree. I am sure Obama got promises ahead of time...but I don't see it going the way he seems to have assumed it would. The danger of this failing to remain limited are high. Maybe events will prove me wrong on that.

      1. The Europeans played big O from the start. They know exactly how weak and naive he is. I'm sure they convinced him that getting this "mission accomplished" would be a "slam dunk", knowing all along that they were going to dump this on the United States lap.

        It's no wonder that Sec. Gates and the Joint Chiefs were the most vocal opponents of US intervention.

  33. In order for military action in Libya to extend beyond 60 days, Obama will need authorization from congress. What sort of horse trading should the GOP demand from the O-man before they bless his war?

    * Repeal Obamacare?
    * Balanced budget amendment?
    * End the Department of Education?
    * Amend the commerce clause?
    * Mandatory "reorientation" camps for gays?
    * Other

    1. Part of the problem is that I don't think there's much opposition on the John Boehner side of the Republican party to Obama putting troops on the ground in Libya--if that's what Obama wants to do...

      If anything, I suspect John Boehner's old guard Bush Administration lackeys are probably egging Obama on!

      Remember, the problem with Obama has always been that he's just like Bush in a whole lotta ways.

  34. Why does no one focus on Obama's letter to Congress, required by the War PowersResolution, compelling him to state the legislative orconstitutional authority for a unilateral attack? In it he claimed his "constitutional" authority to conduct "foreign affairs" as authorizing the attack. An unheard of authority that would expand the power of the executive. Wake America.

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  37. I understand the motivation behind those people who are upset with the president about this action, and to some extent those feelings are justified, but the reality of both the legal and ethical situation is not so black and white as the author claims. Our membership into the UN and with NATO are established by Treaty, ratified by congress and signed by the president, and a the writ of a treaty, by mandate of the constitution itself, becomes US federal law, super-ceding all other laws. So a military action taken by the US, on behalf of NATO or the UN, may or may not be governed by the requirement to declare war as stipulated in the constitution.

    And more directly related to the Libyan front, the US no longer subscribes to either the Realistic Theory nor the Idealistic Theory nor the Neoconservative Theory of the IR field; it is slowly developing a Neo-liberal Institutionalism theory of International Relations. The actions in Libya are an attempt by the global community, not just the US, to quicken the demise of the Gaddafi regime and implement democratic institutions so that the people of Libya can get back to working on the oil fields. Let's not forget that the world is still recovering from The Great Recession and an oil shortage caused by all out war, or the slaughter of the rebels in any of the Jasmine Revolution countries, would certainly stop the recovery and possibly through the world into turmoil that would rival the great depression.

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