Foreign Policy

Does Toppling Qaddafi Make U.S. Involvement in Libya Legal?

|

Over at the Washington Examiner, Timothy P. Carney asks a basic question about the U.S. role in Libya: Does being on the winning side make President Obama's intervention—which was undertaken without even a pretense of constitutionally required congressional authorization—legal? He thinks not, even as he realizes that "Obama won't be held accountable for illegally fighting a war. Republicans don't really want to open that can of worms."

Thanks, Republicans! Assuming he's right about a GOP non-response, let's all remember this next time the party of Lincoln gets on its high horse about the Constitution.

Carney notes that Obama supporters such as the Center for American Progress don't have any questions in the wake of recent events. Here's a tweet from their ThinkProgress blog account:

Does John Boehner still believe U.S. military operations in Libya are illegal? thkpr.gs/rhAvia

Impressive. CAP doesn't say "wrong" or "ineffective." Nope, the legal status can change based on a W or a L in the tally column (and let's not forget that assuming a rebel victory goes as smoothly as possible, U.S./NATO presence can still be entangled there for decades).

Over at Salon, Carney notes, the principled civil libertarian Glenn Greenwald argues "Shamelessly exploiting hatred of the latest Evil Villain to irrationally shield all sorts of policies from critical scrutiny—the everything-is-justified-if-we-get-a-Bad-Guy mentality—is one of the most common and destructive staples of American political discourse, and it's no better when done here."

I don't always agree with Greenwald on a range of issues, but there's no doubt that he is not a situational ethicist, whose foreign policy (and domestic policy for that matter) depends simply on whether a particular development helps his preferred candidate or party at a given moment. Politics would be a lot less odious if there were more thinkers like that.

Reason on the Qaddafi regime, certainly one of the most despicable in the world.

Advertisement

NEXT: Theology Is Dead

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “let’s all remember this next time the party of Lincoln gets on its high horse about the Constitution.”

    I have never noticed anything but tactical political maneuvering behind talk about the Constitution from the Democrats, the Republicans, the Libertarians or the libertarians.

    1. The problem isn’t when they are on the high horse. It’s when they are off it, or just pretending to be on it.

    2. What’s with all the reverence for the Constitution? Wasn’t that document created by the State and ratified by all the “statists,” making it a sham in the eyes of us forward-thinking libertarians?

  2. Does Toppling Qaddafi Make U.S. Involvement in Libya Legal?

    No.

    1. You’re forgetting the dormant “Victory Clause” to the Constitution.

      I’m just kidding, of course. It’s never been dormant.

      1. You’re forgetting the dormant invisible “Victory Clause” to the Constitution.

        FIFY?

      2. “You’re forgetting the dormant “Victory Clause” to the Constitution.”

        I thought all this was justified with a modern interpretation of the Interstate Commerce Clause?

        1. General Welfare. Do try to keep up.

          1. good and welfare clause, dumbass.

        2. Oops looks like that point has already been made below.

        3. True, but only if Congress passes the Violence Against Libyans Act.

  3. What is this Constitution you speak of? Does that have anything to do with the Commerce Clause law of the land?

    1. See, Libya engages in commerce….do i need to say any more?

      1. or, their refusal to participate in commerce (which is actually still participating in commerce). They’re a state. We’re a state. that’s interstate commerce.

        Suck it bitches.

      2. 1. The Declaration of Independence makes it clear that all people have an inalienable right to pursue happiness.
        2. The Libyans aren’t happy.
        3. The Declaration of Independence predates the Constitution.
        4. Therefore, we can bomb Libya until every single citizen there is happy.

        1. The bombings will continue until morale improves?

          1. We actually have to. If the Libyans aren’t pursuing happiness, we have to use force to make them do so. It’s right there in the Declaration.

          2. I thought the plan was to bomb Libya until people like Obama more.

            1. Liking Obama is the same as being happy, so yes.

        2. In Soviet Russia, happiness pursue you!

    2. It’s some document written by old dudes like, 50 years ago or some shit.

      1. It’s some document written by old racist slave-raping dudes like, 50 years ago or some shit.

        FIFY

        Of course this sentiment is at the heart of any constitutional criticism even after the abolition of slavery. It makes me wonder if Isaac Newton loved to use chained Africans to cart him around downtown London’s shit-filled streets, would we still recognize his contributions to calculus? Or if Einstein had secretly collaborated with the Nazis, would we completely discount most of the theory of relativity? Sadly, I think the answer is yes, as evidenced by the flood of vehement screeching tantrums aimed in your direction if you so much as suggest the South had some legitimate grievances with the Federal government.

  4. “If the President does it…” et c.

  5. the legal status can change based on a W or a L in the tally column

    “I’d hate to judge before all the facts are in…”

  6. When is Obama’s victory speech?

    I can hear it now:

    Months, not years
    International alliance
    No American casualties
    etc.

    Of course, the fact that this was only supposed to last a couple weeks, that we most likely replaced a dictator with Islamic extremists including al Qaeda allies, and most importantly, that the whole thing was illegal will be glossed over.

    1. “we most likely replaced a dictator with Islamic extremists including al Qaeda allies”

      The good news is that when the Islamists take over, they will screw up Libya’s oil production, decreasing the world’s use of hydrocarbon fuels. Islamists are good for the environment.

  7. I don’t always agree with Greenwald on a range of issues, but there’s no doubt that he is not a situational ethicist, whose foreign policy (and domestic policy for that matter) depends simply on whether a particular development helps his preferred candidate or party at a given moment. Politics would be a lot less odious if there were more thinkers like that.

    I maintain that the two-party system would be a lot more palatable if Greenwald were representative of Democrats and George Will representative of Republicans. Instead it’s more like Olbermann vs. O’Reilly.

    1. Nice choices. Champions have been chosen! Now fight!

    2. Greenwald and George Will might actually be able to have a civil conversation with eachother.

  8. Unfortunately not only do winners write the history they also control the legal system and get to determine what is legal.

    However they don’t control what individuals think is right and wrong and so they can be judged.

  9. “Timothy P. Carney asks a basic question about the U.S. role in Libya: Does being on the winning side make President Obama’s intervention – which was undertaken without even a pretense of constitutionally required congressional authorization – legal?”

    There are some even more basic questions about Libya, among them–are we really the ones who are responsible for toppling Qaddafi?

    I doubt the Libyan rebels would have won as they did without our assistance, but then I doubt the Colonial rebels would have won the American Revolution–as we did–without the assistance of France!

    Does that mean the French won the American Revolution? I don’t think so; I think the American colonists won the American Revolution. The Libyans won their revolution themselves too. I’d rather everything were done constitutionally, but with the framework of the debate about what we should do–I’ve always argued that we should have assisted them just as we did.

    Does toppling the Qaddafi make what we did in Libya constitutional? Of course not!

    But if Iraq is constitutional, being constitutional doesn’t make the Iraq War smart either! …and I think that’s another important question we should be asking ourselves: if we had waited in Iraq, would the Iraqis have done the same thing the Libyans did and the Syrians are doing?

    What if we’d waited? That’s such a huge difference between what we did in Libya and what we’re doing in Iraq. In Iraq, we picked a fight with Saddam Hussein–regardless of whether the Iraqi people wanted the fight. In Libya, the people of Libya picked a fight with Gaddafi–we simply picked a side!

    Because we sent in American ground troops and picked a fight with the Hussein (no matter what the Iraqi people wanted), we ended up assuming the responsibility for solving all of Iraq’s political, economic, ethnic and religious problems…

    Because the Libyans rose up and won their own revolution–and we didn’t send in any ground troops–we have no such responsibility to the Libyan people. …despite our assistance.

    Libya’s future is for the Libyan people to decide–not America’s troops or America’s taxpayers. ….and this is exactly as it should be. That’s so different from Iraq!

    Regardless of whether the Libyan War was constitutional, I hope we keep that important lesson in mind. Sending troops into Iraq was a stupid thing to do–regardless of whether it was constitutional. …and in the future, regardless of whether our future wars are constitutional, I hope we’re smart enough to make them more like Libya and less like Iraq.

    P.S. Congratulations to the people of Libya!

    1. “P.S. Congratulations to the people of Libya!”

      Don’t count the chickens. The devil we knew may turn out to have been a better choice.

      1. true that. The Lybians may face a protracted insurgency, just as we did in Iraq.

        1. Insurgency?

          The Libyans are an insurgency!

          Who’s gonna start an insurgency against themselves.

          Once again–Libya is not Iraq. Tripoli did not fall to the United States. Gaddafi fell to the people of Libya.

          Iraq’s insurgency was against a foreign invader–there is no foreign invader in Libya. No foreign troops means no insurgency.

          They may have a civil war, but that’s not an insurgency–and in no case would I support keeping a dictator around–not just to avoid what might turn into a civil war.

          If we think dictatorships are the solution to civil strife, then let’s stop calling ourselves libertarians.

          1. Once again–Libya is not Iraq. Tripoli did not fall to the United States. Gaddafi fell to the people of Libya.

            By that measure, Kabul did not fall to the United States. Kandahar did not fall to the United States.

            And yet we ended up occupying them later, and President Obama refuses to leave either.

            1. Over here, we’ve got Afghanistan–where we sent in American troops to invade and occupy the country…

              Over there, we’ve got Libya–where there are no American troops whatsoever.

              See the difference?

      2. “Don’t count the chickens. The devil we knew may turn out to have been a better choice.”

        The good news for the Libyan people is that we didn’t make their choice for them.*

        They chose for themselves.

        …and who are we to overrule them?

        *The Libyan War is not the Iraq War. They have almost nothing in common.

        1. The Libyan War is not the Iraq War. They have almost nothing in common.

          But it has a damn lot in common with the war in Afghanistan, up to the fall of Kabul (and then Kandahar.)

          1. Why is Libya like Afghanistan?

            Libya wasn’t an openly disputed battlefield of the Cold War–that had been devastated by a Soviet invasion.

            Libya did not conspire to attack the United States on September 11 in cooperation with the United States.

            Why is Libya like Afghanistan?

            1. “Libya did not conspire to attack the United States on September 11 in cooperation with the United States [al Qaeda].”

              I need some coffee.

    2. Because the Libyans rose up and won their own revolution–and we didn’t send in any ground troops–we have no such responsibility to the Libyan people. …despite our assistance.

      The example of Afghanistan destroys your argument here.

      Afghanistan was also a civil war where we gave critical air support (and used a few commandos) to turn the tide, after a period of time where it was dismissed as a quagmire.

      The American taxpayer have been quite responsible since then.

      1. The example of Afghanistan destroys your argument here.

        Our sending troops to Afghanistan destroys your argument there.

        Once again, we didn’t send troops into Libya. Why would someplace we sent troops be indicative of what happens somewhere else where we didn’t?

        Don’t resist the temptation to send troops–Iraq is what happens…

        Afghanistan–in my opinion–was a war of self-defense anyway. Regardless, a place like Iraq (or Afghanistan) where we did not resist the temptation to invade is in no way indicative of what happens in a place like Libya–where we resisted the temptation completely.

        1. Our sending troops to Afghanistan destroys your argument there.

          I see, you’re making up history now.

          We didn’t send ground troops into Afghanistan until long after the Taliban had fled from the vast majority of Afghanistan. Ground troops, that is, other than Special Forces and advisors, which are already on the ground in Libya.

          The Battle of Tora Bora took place after the Taliban had retreated from all cities, including Kandahar where they had fled. They were still present in the hinterlands.

          The US ground troops in Afghanistan took place, in other words, after the analogous action to the fall of Tripoli.

          Surely you knew that?

    3. France was far less involved in the American revolution than the US (or if you prefer, NATO which is bankrolled, commanded, and supplied with weapons and craft almost entirely by the US) was involved in the Libyan rebellion.

      And your justification of the Libya military action by noting that it’s not Iraq is descending into self-parody.

      1. “France was far less involved in the American revolution than the US (or if you prefer, NATO which is bankrolled, commanded, and supplied with weapons and craft almost entirely by the US) was involved in the Libyan rebellion.”

        Your ignorance of history is astounding.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Yorktown

        We wouldn’t have won–as we did–without France.

        Half the army that besieged Yorktown and forced Cornwallis’ surrender was the French military–and the half made up of American colonials? …all their expenses and wages were being paid by the French!

        “And your justification of the Libya military action by noting that it’s not Iraq is descending into self-parody.”

        Your lack of reading comprehension is descending into typical.

        You think I justifies Libya by saying it’s not Iraq?

        I justified not sending troops into Libya by pointing out the stupid mistakes we made in Iraq.

        Libya not being Iraq isn’t a justification–it’s a fact.

        1. Your ignorance of history is astounding.

          So is yours.

          Kabul fell before there were any US ground troops. US ground troops only arrived (and established the first FOB) around the same time as the Taliban were expelled from their last urban stronghold, Kandahar, by a combination of US Navy missile strikes and Northern Alliance forces.

          So, as I said, the Libyan war so far, while it is not Iraq, is very much analogous to Afganistan.

          And we decided to occupy Afghanistan afterwards.

          1. The difference is troops on the ground.

            When we invade and occupy a foreign country, we become responsible for what happens there. There are a few exceptions, but that’s the way it worked in Iraq; that’s the way it worked in Vietnam; that’s the way it worked for the British in India…

            We invaded and occupied Afghanistan. We have neither invaded nor occupied Libya. …and oom shallah mau mau, we never will.

            So long as we don’t invade or occupy Libya, we can’t make any big, long term mistakes here. So long as we do not send troops into Libya, we can’t really lose. That may change if some threat to American security arises in Libya, but from every perspective I look at it, the long term security threats in Libya just got dialed down rather than up.

            The people of Libya just accomplished through protest, international cooperation and spontaneous order–what the Islamists and terrorists never could.

            The Islamists look about as outdated and useful as Gaddafi himself right now.

  10. The legality of our war on Libya was not contingent on achieving or not achieving certain policy goals.

    Remember, at the time, regime change was explicitly disclaimed as a goal of our war. Rather, our initial, official goal was simply to get the Qhudaffiy regime to stop using its airforce and undue amounts of artillery in subduing the rebels.

    The relevant questions:

    (1) Was this a war with Libya? If not, then it was probably legal on day one regardless of the outcome. If this was war, then:

    (2) Did Congress declare war (or, to be broad-minded, AUMF) against Libya? Unless and until it did, the war was illegal.

    1. Once again, despite our involvement, we did not topple Gaddafi.

      The Libyan rebels toppled Gaddafi.

      If we’re not even responsible for toppling Gaddafi, then how can toppling him justify what we did?

      1. …then how can toppling him justify what we did [constitutionally]?

        1. Who knows, Ken, why don’t you ask the Libyan war supporters like CAP who are making that argument?

          Surely you wouldn’t deny that the French entered into a war with the British during the American Revolution?

          1. “Surely you wouldn’t deny that the French entered into a war with the British during the American Revolution?”

            The French involvement in the American Revolution was more than what we did in Libya–we didn’t send in any ground troops. In the American Revolution the French did.

            Why it should be controversial that the American colonists still deserve the credit for winning the American Revolution–despite the assistance of the French–is beyond me…

            Suffice it to say? The Libyans liberated themselves. Barack Obama is not the liberator of Libya. Barack Obama is not the liberator of Tripoli. The USA did not liberate Libya.

            The Libyans deserve at least as much credit for liberating themselves during the Libyan Revolution as we deserved for winning the American Revolution. …that’s all I was trying to say.

            There is a bizarre, weird world taking shape in the media even as I type, where the United States is somehow responsible for what happens in Libya? …and it should be debunked.

            We should assume until convinced otherwise that the Libyans are about as enamored of having their former allies involved in their internal affairs–as we were of having France involve itself in our internal affairs.

            If people get past the notion that we’re somehow responsible for what happens in Libya? They may stop thinking that we’re responsible for what happens in Libya.

            1. Barack Obama is not the liberator of Tripoli.

              The United States is not the liberator of Kabul. The United States is not the liberator of Kandahar. The United States is not the liberator of Afghanistan.

              1. I guess you can take this as the response to all your recent posts…

                The United States invaded Afghanistan in response to 9/11. I was against the Iraq War–but even I supported the invasion of Afghanistan. Afghanistan was a war of self-defense as far as I’m concerned, and that makes it okay!

                Whether we should get out now is another question entirely–but I think it would have been irresponsible not to go when we did.

                Libya isn’t Iraq–because we didn’t put troops on the ground–AND it isn’t Afghanistan either. If I understand you properly, you’re suggesting that Afghanistan before we invaded it was just like Libya is now? …but just because we invaded Afghanistan–in a self-defense response to a massive terrorist attack? Doesn’t mean we’ll get sucked into Libya–because Libyan rebels will hit us with a terrorist attack.

                It just doesn’t follow.

                I’d argue that the reasons we got involved in Afghanistan in the first place were all about the Cold War too! The Cold War’s over. The Communists finance America’s spending now… Other than

                There’s no reason to think Libya will become another Afghanistan. And the best way to make sure it never becomes one–is to not put any troops on the ground there. Understand–what I’m advocating is leaving the Libyans alone…

                Even if they wanted us to interfere in their internal affairs–something I refuse to believe–the solution to not ending up in an Afghanistan situation is doing exactly what I’m advocating. Establish diplomatic relations–and leave them the hell alone!

                In the meantime, why would I think that Libya will turn into another Afghanistan? What’s the connection–other than the vague inevitability of your slippery slope?

                Is it because Libya was invaded by a foreign power–like the USSR invaded Afghanistan? I don’t get it.

      2. Where did I say “we” toppled Gqhuadaffiy?

        1. “Remember, at the time, regime change was explicitly disclaimed as a goal of our war. Rather, our initial, official goal was simply to get the Qhudaffiy regime to stop using its airforce and undue amounts of artillery in subduing the rebels.”

          Not only was toppling Gaddafi explicitly not part of the original goal–we didn’t topple Gaddafi!

          The Pottery Barn Rule isn’t a function of the Constitution. It isn’t a legal interpretation of anything.

          It’s like gravity. The people of Libya broke Libya. We didn’t break Libya, so we don’t have to buy it.

          Contrast that with Iraq, where the people of Iraq most certainly did not break Iraq–and the United States most certainly did. So here we are years after Saddam Hussein’s death, and we’re still trying to put Iraq back together again.

          We’re not responsible for fixing Libya–and there’s a reason for that. …and it has nothing to do with the Constitution.

      3. Once again, despite our involvement, we did not topple Gaddafi.

        You also agree that we did not topple the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance did, right?

        1. You seem to have a hard time differentiating between invading and occupying a foreign country on the one hand?

          …and not invading and not occupying a foreign country on the other.

          But they’re two very different things.

          We occupied Afghanistan. We did not occupy Libya. To the best of my knowledge, we have no troops occupying Libya. How can we be responsible for toppling the Gaddafi regime if we never had any troops on the ground in Libya?

          1. Are you really that ignorant of the war in Afghanistan?

            We occupied Afghanistan after the Taliban had fallen. They had retreated from all major cities, but continued to attempt guerrilla operations.

            That point has not yet been reached in Libya. We are at the analogous point in the Afghanistan war where there were no US ground troops.

          2. Are you that ignorant of history, Ken Shultz?

            By your measure, the Afghanis liberated themselves. Kabul and Kandahar, along with all other major cities, were liberated before there were US ground troops (outside of Special Forces, who are also operating in Libya for air strike coordination, just as in Afghanistan.)

            So like I said, by your measure, the Northern Alliance liberated Afghanistan, the US was not responsible.

            1. I still have no idea what you’re talking about.

              I keep talking about why it’s a good thing that we didn’t put any troops on the ground–and that we should not put any troops on the ground…

              And I think you keep talking about how us putting troops on the ground is inevitable?

              Why? Why is it inevitable that we would invade Libya? Why can’t we just decide not to?

              And why shouldn’t we continue to argue against invading Libya?

      4. Here come the semantics…

        1. What are you, some kinda anti-semantic?

    1. That guy takes apathy to a whole new level.

      I like it.

  11. but there’s no doubt that he is not a situational ethicist,

    Granted not when it comes to American policies but he is distinctly inconsistent when it comes to the actions of other nations. I.e., One standard for the US and Israel; another for other nations.

    E.g., see his writings on Russia’s invasion of Georgia.

    1. Please. Greenwald’s evisceration of Cathy Young’s particulraly inane article about him re: Russia/Georgia — and his exposure of the American/Western punditocracy’s mindless orthodoxies about that conflict– is entirely true to his approach to Israel, the U.S. and the ME. I mean, seriously, just read his punking of Young’s silly spewings: http://www.salon.com/news/opin…..25/georgia

  12. This morning, MSNBC’s elite squad of Obamapologists was thumping the bejeezis out of the “We averted MASS SLAUGHTER” tub.

    Somebody, my brain has blotted out “who” and “where”, actually said, “Well Ghaddafi isn’t really *all bad*.”

    1. “We averted MASS SLAUGHTER”

      Let’s wait and see how the tribes opposing Gqhuadaffiy treat the tribes who supported him, shall we?

      1. The (probably conservative) estimates of fatalities in the civil war are about 5,000-6,000 … so no.

    2. “Averting mass sluaghter” sounds like a luadable goal…if you live in a fucking comic book. If that is the litmus test of why and how we should use our military, we better get cracking and start deposing governments right and left. After awhile, that laudable goal will drift into “Averting mass discontent” and “Averting mass deprivation of Iphones” and the like. If you murder-loving “pragmatic” progressives want to help out all these unfortunate souls, I suggest you amass your own private militia and sacrifice your own time, money, and lives to save these people from a never-ending line of despots instead of using a military apparatus, mostly composed of Red-staters no doubt, to depose a dictator your Messiah happily obliged with a handshake.

  13. “History is written by winners, baby
    So let’s make a little of our own tonight”

    1. Do my kisses burn?

  14. Waste of time, boys, replacing one dictator with another dictator is bad policy. We should have stayed out of Libya instead of getting involved once again with the crazy Muslims.

  15. USA!! USA!! USA!!

    Yep, it’s legal now.

  16. “So what do we do now?”

    /The Candidate

  17. This is the equivalent to us removing Saddam from power, hardly turned into a fucking paradise and justified the war.

    1. Except for the question of legality, of course.

      Which is what this article was about.

      1. I’m not convinced Iraq was legal either

        1. Sure, sure.

          But I’d say Libya is illegaler.

          It’s a very important distinction.

  18. On to IRAN, Comrades!

    1. And Syria.

          1. The Republican Party?

          2. Nope, they have nukes, can’t touch them even when they sink our ally’s ship in our ally’s own waters.

            See how it works? The rest of the murderous dictators of the world definitely see what renouncing WMD programs and allowing inspectors in did for Gaddafi. You can be sure of that.

            1. Strangely, I’m not afraid of PRK’s nukes.

              1. Tokyo and Seoul sure as hell are.

                1. Hey, when I don’t have to live next door to the crazy neighbors, I’ll antagonize them all I want.

              2. What about the PRK’s EMP weapons?

                1. What about the PRK’s EMP weapons?

                  The one’s they tested on Pyonyang? Ye Gods, that is scary.

            2. And actually, the U.S. government had considered bombing North Korean nuclear facilities arguably long before they had any alleged weapons. We opted for a strongly worded letter, instead.

              1. The complication there of course is that NK could pulverize Seoul with conventional artillery in retaliation, and they’re crazy enough to do it.

                1. I also believe they’re crazy enough to use a nuclear weapon. Which makes one wonder:

                  Could a pre-emptive strike against NK be justified?

              2. “We opted for a strongly worded letter, instead.”

                IIRC we also bought them two nuclear reactors to reward them for renouncing the non-proliferation treaty.

  19. And BURMA!

  20. Thanks, Republicans! Assuming he’s right about a GOP non-response, let’s all remember this next time the party of Lincoln government gets on its high horse about the Constitution.

    Fixed.

  21. Does Toppling Qaddafi Make U.S. involvement in Libya Legal?

    I think this is the dumbest question ever. Since when does the answer justify the question?

  22. Does Toppling Qaddafi Make U.S. Involvement in Libya Legal?

    No; the fact that the president who ordered it is a Democrat does, though.

  23. Saint Qaddafi has done his best to prevent Libya from developing into one your beloved “advanced” civilizations. He was not, despite your primitive protests to the contrary, an “evil” man. No, toppling him does not make this illegal war any better.

    Thesis #5: Humans are neither good nor evil.
    by Jason Godesky | 2 November 2005
    http://rewild.info/anthropik/thirty/

    1. Thesis #6: Zombies are neither dead nor alive.

      by George Romero | 1968
      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063350/

  24. Um, didn’t both the UN resolution tell us that this wasn’t about regime change, but just stopping Qaddafi about engaging in slaughter?

    Logically, wouldn’t that mean any force applied in recent weeks is illegal under international law, since it clearly was force in excess of what was necessary to prevent killing civilians, and instead contributed to regime change?

    Thus blowing away the last fig leaf of, “Well, it was legal because, even though Congress didn’t authorize it, the UN did”?

  25. Does anyone remember, a year or so ago, someone wrote an article seriously claiming “American slavery was ultimately for the best, because today’s slave descendants are much better off here in America than they would be had their ancestors stayed in Africa?” The ne plus ultra of odious “ends justify the means” arguments? This Libya business keeps incessantly reminding me of that.

    1. The ne plus ultra of odious “ends justify the means” arguments?

      That struck me as more of a “STFU, your life is not so bad” argument directed at those blacks, who have never been slaves, bitching about slavery all the time.

    2. I’ve only ever encountered this sentiment from a black woman, who was given to telling people that she thanked her ancestors every day for enduring slavery and Jim Crow, so she could live in the modern USA.

  26. Fezzik: You never said anything about killing anyone.
    Vizzini: I’ve hired you to help me start a war. It’s an prestigious line of work, with a long and glorious tradition.
    Fezzik: I just don’t think it’s right, killing an innocent girl.
    Vizzini: Am I going MAD, or did the word “think” escape your lips? You were not hired for your brains, you hippopotamic land mass.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093779/quotes

  27. Saint Qaddafi has done his best to prevent Libya from developing into one your beloved “advanced” civilizations.

    It’s not nice to spoof the Malthusian Savage.

  28. If the Libyans aren’t pursuing happiness, we have to use force to make them do so. It’s right there in the Declaration.

    Bombing brown people for their own good (It’s in your own best interest!) makes the Progressive One-Worlders ecstatically happy.

  29. ps- “Neocon” (see, also: “American Exceptionalist”) is a not-insignificant subgroup of the category “Progressive One-Worlders”.

  30. I don’t always agree with Greenwald on a range of issues, but there’s no doubt that he is not a situational ethicist,

    He’s better than the vast majority, but I still argue that this is situational ethics:

    It is illegal to disclose classified information to individuals who are not cleared to receive it. Period.

    That’s a statement that only comes out of the side of Team Members when they can bash the other side.

    1. That’s not situational ethics at all, it’s an absolute statement independent of circumstance.

  31. You know, one way to read that shot on Boehner is a sarcastic “ends justify the means” way – TalkingPoints waiting for Boehner to say “what we did was right” since we “won”, while having questioned the legality since the war’s inception.

  32. “Obama won’t be held accountable for illegally fighting a war. Republicans don’t really want to open that can of worms.”

    Dear Mr. Carney,

    S.J. Res. 23 (Afghanistan). H.J. Res. 114 (Iraq). Libya? Not a scrap of paper from Congress. Not even the pretense of authorization before or after the fact from Congress for the Nobel Peace Prize winning boy wonder.

    Thank you, fuck you, bye.

  33. Now that the mission is accomplished in Libya, when do we start kinetic military actioning Syria? Or is that not massacre-y enough?

  34. At least Obama is following the more intelligent strategy of killing off your weakest enemies first.

    Compared to Bush’s strategy of attacking the strongest, and then letting all the weaker states subversively help them, this is a major improvement.

    If we’d taken out Assad first, Iraq would not have been nearly as difficult. The Iraqi insurgents got all sorts of help from Syria and Iran.

    Anyone who’s played enough strategy games knows that you always kill your weakest enemy first to prevent them from stabbing you in the back while you go after the big guys.

  35. Lets all remember that the 5th amendment says that life, liberty, or property can not be taken away without the due process of law. This is not for procedures in a court room but saying that the government can only take these things when their is a law that says so and as long as the procedure set out by law are followed. It is not legal for the president of the United States to take the life of others without some kind of congressional act that says he can. When we have a law that says we can take the life of the Libian dictator and what method may be used then the president can execute that law to its fullest.

  36. “Treason doth never prosper; what’s the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”

    — Sir John Harrington, 1600

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.