Barack Obama

Reason.tv: Obama's War That Isn't a War

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Since at least the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, American foreign policy has been drifting- comprising a series of ad hoc interventions absent a national consensus about when to use force and lacking an underlying set of reliable, core principles.

That drift continues with President Obama's speech about our war with Libya- and includes the simple fact that our commander in chief couldn't even acknowledge that we're in a war and that we've taken sides against someone he calls a "tyrant who murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorized innocent people around the world—including Americans who were killed by Libyan agents."

Dropping bombs, shooting missiles, deploying massive amounts of personnel and power—all of these are generally understood as acts of war. But Obama can't admit that we're waging war because then he would
have to acknowledge what his critics correctly underscore: Constitutionally, he doesn't have a right to do this sort of thing unilaterally when the country isn't facing a clear and present danger.

We know this because of Obama himself. In 2007, while a US senator and presidential candidate, he flatly told The Boston Globe, "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."

No president was worse at foreign policy than George W. Bush, who came to power amid promises of a "humble foreign policy" and then mired us in two intractable conflicts that even supporters grant were poorly executed under his command.

Yet even Bush pushed to get a fig leaf of authorization from Congress before the shooting began. Obama's Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, instead brandished unanimity among NATO leaders as proof we were doing the right thing: "All 28 allies have…now authorized military authorities to develop an operations plan for NATO to take on the broader civilian protection mission under Resolution 1973." As if NATO, a Cold War alliance conceived to protect the free nations of Europe from a threat that went missing 20 years ago, is a substitute for, say, the American people and their elected representatives.

Who knows how long will be in Libya—whether under US or NATO command. It might be a few months or it might be many years. But this much is certain: Our actions there won't have been authorized by the American people. And they provide no guide to where we'll end up next.

Approximately 2.30 minutes. Written by Nick Gillespie. Edited by Meredith Bragg.

For more on Obama's Libya speech, see Matt Welch's "Obama's Doctrine of Preemptive War" and Peter Suderman's "Obama on Libya: Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind."

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  1. our commander in chief couldn’t even acknowledge that we’re in a war

    Let me be clear.

    Has there been any (rising intonation) “Declaration of War”?

    1. I did it for you, silly.

      1. Oh, … (rising intonation) right you are! Let me be clear. That’s the ticket!

  2. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were fully justified by the attacks of 9/11. Bush also sought, and received, congressional approval.

    Libya was no security threat to us (as Afghanistan and Iraq were), and Obama did not seek congressional approval, because communists do not believe in representative democracy.

    It continues to astound me that any thinking person can conflate these two presidents and situations. Everything Bush did was correct and the right (regarding the wars); everything Obama does is wrong and dictatorial. It’s as obvious as anything can possibly be.

    1. Re: 1980 Redux,

      The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were fully justified by the attacks of 9/11.

      Were they?

      Bush also [sic] sought, and received, congressional approval.

      Did he?

      Libya was no security threat to us (as Afghanistan and Iraq were), and Obama did not seek congressional approval, because communists do not believe in representative democracy.

      Actually, they do. They do not believe in federalism, though.

      It continues to astound me that any thinking person can conflate these two presidents and situations.

      It would astound me that any thinking person would even care what you have to say.

      I don’t care what you have to say. Bye!

      1. Why, OM, do you go to the trouble of blockquoting a post from an obvious troll, much less responding to it?

      2. Asking questions rather than responding logically doesn’t win you any arguments…it just reveals you to be intellectually bankrupt.

        I concede that it is arguable whether the wars under Bush were justified…certainly there are enough people who readily admit that 3,000 murdered Americans does not bother them in the least, and so to them I’m sure the wars are not justified. However, you cannot change the facts of history: did Bush, or did he not, ask for and receive congressional authorization for use of force?

        I’m also astonished at your defense of communism. Please point me to any communist nation in history which practiced representative democracy, with open, adversarial elections such as we enjoy in the free world.

        1. Flyin’ the flag!
          Fight the Red Peril!
          Flyin’ the flag!
          Fight till we die!
          Never give up now!
          Flying the flag!
          Hold yer head high!

      3. I’m pretty sure he’s trolling. Someone realized that the prog thing was getting old and decided to try a new approach.

        1. I’ve heard this quite a bit on here, and frankly, I’m getting a little tired of it. The fact of my holding different opinions to the majority of people here, does NOT constitute my being a “troll”.

  3. Give it up you Kochsuckers. Stop trying to end our glorious leader’s war against oppression. Just go back to your mansions and daydream about your capitalist ideals like “peace” and “non-initiation of force.”

    1. Rachel, I appreciate your help, but in future please please refer to my glorious activity in Libya as kinetic military action rather than calling it war.

      Let me be clear. The word “war” should be reserved for such things as “the war on drugs”, “the war on poverty”, “the war on obesity”, “the war on cancer”, and so forth.

  4. So which sounds better: police action, humantarian intervention, or kinetic military action?

    1. humantarian intervention

      “Peacekeeping” or “nation building”?

      1. Peacekeeping

        “foreseeable future” or “until such time as stable social institutions allow for a transfer of power”?

        1. until such time as stable social institutions allow for a transfer of power (It’s much more precise.)

          Hey, this diplomacy-speak stuff is *fun*! Uh, … “civilian deaths” or “collateral damage”, no, … “abandon brave people yearning for freedom from fear” or “exit strategy”.

    2. Re: A Serious Man,

      police action, humantarian intervention, or kinetic military action?

      Nothing sounds better than “Invasion From Outer Space!”

      1. “Everything up to then and still later were “incidents,” “patrols,” or “police actions.” However, you are just as dead if you buy the farm in an “incident” as you are if you buy it in a declared war.”

    3. What’s wrong with Destruction of our Enemies?

    4. “Hot Pre-emptive Action!”

    5. You’re right Rich, this is fun! So, in a month or so when the rebels have still failed to dislodge Gaddaffi and ask for more assistance, what should Obama call it: an escalation, a surge, or a measured response to a new challenge?

      1. International stimulus.

  5. Bush…’then mired us in two intractable conflicts that even supporters grant were poorly executed under his command.’

    That’s really unfair. The war in Afghanistan was entirely justified.

    If we’re mired in Afghanistan – and we are – it’s because of the tenacity of our enemy and the difficulty of dealing with a government in Pakistan that is more concerned about India then they are about the Islamists.

    As to Iraq? Not justified.

    1. I think its a bit unfair to criticize Bush for changing his foreign policy. While I think his post 9/11 policy was wrong, he had a pretty obvious reason for changing his mind from the humble foreign policy he campaigned on. Obama seems to have changed his mind merely because he’s not running “against” Bush anymore.

    2. The causus belli in Afghanistan was certainly justified, but the mission creep a nation-building effort was not and is not. Moreover, it is extremely impractical. Afghanistan has to be the most absurd county north of Sub-Saharan Africa to attempt a nation-building enterprise given its tribalism, lack of civic institutions, decentralized and fragmented society, and absense of anything remotely approaching an educated/sophisticated population. Say what you will about Iraq (and I will agree with you on most everything you will), but if you’re stated objective is nation-building, it is a far better project than Afghanistan for those reasons, and that is bourne out by the relative progress there(albeit at far too much a cost in blood and treasure and without any valid justification for war) vs. the quagmire (giggitty) that is Afghanistan.

      1. Afghanistan has to be the most absurd county north of Sub-Saharan Africa to attempt a nation-building enterprise given its tribalism, lack of civic institutions, decentralized and fragmented society, and absense of anything remotely approaching an educated/sophisticated population.

        I suspect you could substitute Libya for Afghanistan in that sentence, and not be far off.

        And if you think there won’t be a nice bout of nation-building in Libya, you are most likely in for a surprise.

        1. RC, I think Afghanistan is actually significantly worse for such a mission than Libya if for no reason other than geography. But beyond that, the tribal fragmentation in Afghanistan is orders of magnitude worse than Libya. None of this is to say I condone the current action in Libya or the mission creep that is very likely to ensue turning it into a nation-building effort. Iraq, which from the standpoint of nation-building/development was as much a wetdream as could be found throughout the middle east, proved how difficult these projects are in even the best scenarios. Libya is certainly a less ideal country for such nation-building compared to Iraq, although I simply cannot grant that there is anything north of Sub-Saharan Africa that is as bad for such a mission as Afghanistan. That is what scared me most about Obama from day 1, his instistence on Afghanistan throughout the campaign proved to me that he was a strategic dunce.

  6. What made the Afghanistan War unjustified was not the reason we went in but the reason we stayed. We went in to neutralize an imminent threat to our liberties, and we stayed for the nation-building.

    1. Precisely. And not only is that not a justifiable mission, even if it were, that is the goddamned worse fucking society on Earth to attempt such a mission.

    2. Re: Achtung Baby,

      We went in to neutralize an imminent threat to our liberties

      You went there to stop Congress?

      Or what immediate threat to our liberties were you talking about?

      1. Or what immediate threat to our liberties were you talking about?

        OM, I almost always agree with you. But on this one, I gotta say in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, it can certainly be argued that getting the bastards that orchestrated the flying of commercial jets into Manhattan skyscrapers was legit. And I’ll even grant that we kinda had to take out the Taliban gov’t that was harboring them. But that should be the extent of it, whatever gov’t/lack of gov’t followed, it couldn’t possibly have been much worse than what was in place in August 2001. Trying to transform that shithole into a Jeffersonian democracy is as stupid as it gets though.

        1. Re: Sudden,

          But on this one, I gotta say in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, it can certainly be argued that getting the bastards that orchestrated the flying of commercial jets into Manhattan skyscrapers was legit.

          That’s what Letters Of Marque And Reprisal are for: you place a hefty price on bin Laden’s head and give the job to a few hot shot crazies who want to play Call Of Duty for real. No fuzz, no muss.

          Instead, 2,000 dead and 10 years later, the US has NOT captured Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda is now spread around the Middle East. What the fuck justifies THAT, pray tell???

          1. Its not an either/or. It wasn’t just Osama bi Laden, he might be the ringleader, but there was a larger network in place, one which our significant military strength could very well cripple. We shouldn’t have waited nearly a month to do so, like we ended up doing. In retrospect, a quick declaration of war on al-queda, reign fire from the skies on their training camps, demolish any resistence from Taliban from above should they choose to pose any, and then, upon completion of the dismantling of the training areas, then issue the letters of marque and reprisal. The only reason we’re 10 years later and 2,000 dead is because somewhere early on, GWB decided he wanted to build a nation, and that is the idiocy.

            Nothing wrong with decimating the enemy and getting the hell out of there immediately thereafter.

          2. Not only did Bush fail to get bin Laden, it failed to get Ayman al-Zawahiri. Zawahiri, of course, is the intellectual father of bin Laden’s al Qaeda. He is also a lifelong member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a key instigator of the Libyan rebellion for which Obama is supplying an air force.

            This shit just keeps getting wierder and wierder.

  7. If our guy does it, it’s justified, right TEAM BLUE?

    1. No, it’s not justified now, but it totally was when TEAM RED’s guy was in charge.

  8. Team Blue usually goes into a frothing rage whenever the Crusades are mentioned, yet they don’t have a problem when a Team Blue president proposes that they proselytize to the undemocratized heathens with bombs instead of swords. It is perfectly acceptable to kill and destroy so long as the infidels learn the virtues of humanitarianism, democracy, and international coalitions.

    Obamus Vult!!

    1. P.S. I am well aware that the Neocons/Trotskyites are the champions of perpetual war against the enemies of democracy, so Team Blue, don’t feel like you’re being singled out.

  9. You people sound gayer than Eisenhower when he whined about the so-called “military industrial complex”.

    1. Well, double dumb-ass on you.

      1. Star Trek reference win!

        1. I get a piece of any win that happens on my thread.

    2. Dudes! For reals! Stop being so gay about war! It’s just killin’! You are all so gay. Super super gay for not supporting the bombing of the bad brown people.

  10. Chandler police Detective Carlos Ledesma was sitting at a card table when the drug bust went sour. He did not even have time to stand before being cut down by four rifle shots to the chest, and he died a short time later.

    When the carnage ended, two other Chandler narcotics detectives lay bleeding on the floor of the home in west Phoenix last July. One suspected drug peddler died by the front door, another a short distance away in the back seat of a getaway car.

    Officers from the suburban Arizona police department were not after drugs when the undercover operation went terribly wrong. They were after cash ? a quarter million dollars that the violent and heavily armed men they were dealing with had agreed to pay for 500 pounds of marijuana the detectives said they could supply.

    Police were running a “reverse sting,” a controversial and high-risk tactic in which undercover officers pose as sellers of large quantities of marijuana or other drugs.

    In a traditional drug sting, the cops pose as the buyers and show up with the money. If successful, they walk away with nothing but suspects and evidence.

    But in a reverse sting, the police get to keep the cash they seize under Arizona’s forfeiture law, which allows them to take property they say has been used in certain crimes and keep it for their own use. Police can spend the money to buy equipment, build new buildings, travel, or hire outside help. They can even use it to pay for more police to bring in more money.

    http://biggovernment.com/srhoa…..rug-deals/

  11. Few people alive today embody the term douchebag better than Obama.

  12. “Whatever you do don’t mention the war.”-
    Fauwtly Towers.

  13. What is that barely audible music in the background? Why even have it? Either turn it up so I can hear it or cut it out.

  14. The only reason the West and America is Libya is because of Oil. What will happen if a Syria calls the West’s bluff and now massively attacks its protesters? Will the West attack there too? No!

  15. deploying massive amou

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