Bungling the War in Libya?

Why are so many conservatives against the new war in Libya, liberals are asking, their assumption being that conservatives like war.   Well, one thing that bothers those who believe in following the Constitution is that President Obama has gone to war at the behest of the United Nations.  But he has not so much as asked Congress, which the Constitution explicitly gives the authority to declare war (even though presidents lately of both parties have flouted that Constitutional requirement).   Are we ruled by the UN now?

Meanwhile, it appears that the coalition enforcing the no fly zone by attacking flying objects such as tanks and infantry columns, is also unraveling.  NO ONE wants to lead the operation.  President Obama specifically said he didn’t want the United States to lead it.  The other countries say NATO should run it.  NATO says it doesn’t want to.  How we can prosecute a war without operational or political leadership is beyond me.

Another issue is “mission creep,” as people are trying to change the goal from preventing Libyan aircraft from flying (a goal pretty much accomplished) to helping the rebels, to killing Gaddafi, to building Libya into a democracy.

 

Libya: Obama’s ‘coalition of the unwilling’ asks does the West have the right to kill Gaddafi? | Mail Online.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Lily

    There are many valid reasons that conservatives are concerned with Obama’s leadership that it is hard to know where to begin. I think Victor Davis Hanson has summed up a few of the problems with Libya better than anyone else I have read. Here are some snippets from his commentaries put in no particular order of importance:

    1) We ignore congressional approval, broadcast to our enemies all sorts of self-imposed limitations on our use of force, have not defined the mission as the removal of Qaddafi, on day three are promising less rather than more military force, have no clue what is to replace him, and seem uncomfortable with a leadership role that would define victory and take the necessary measures to achieve it. Under those conditions, I am afraid this president has no business putting U.S. forces in harm’s way when he not only has not answered these questions, but apparently has never considered them.

    2) The administration is understandably uneasy about a third war against Middle Eastern Muslims, so it wishes to wage it beneath a multilateral veneer. We praise European participation but assume most of the firepower will come from the United States. France has one small aircraft carrier, Britain none, and the Arab world few, if any, planes that could even get to Libya and operate there on their own.

    3) After nearly three months, there is also still no typology, even if informal, offered of Middle Eastern unrest. The Obama administration has not explained how our muscularity with Libya fits into our larger policy of embracing “outreach” to Syria, not “meddling” in Iran, and keeping silent about Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Bahrain and about the popular unrest in the Gulf and Jordan. Where do we intervene in the region, for what and on behalf of whom, and how and for how long?

    4) What are we left with? A mission that is part Black Hawk Down, part the twelve-year no-fly zone in Iraq, part working with insurgents as in the 2002 removal of the Taliban, and part Bill Clinton’s various air campaigns over the Balkans. So far, no one has agreed on any objective other than that Qaddafi should not be killing his opponents.

    5) Like most Democratic wartime presidents, Obama accepts that he has far greater leeway to use force than would a Republican president; he appears to bomb reluctantly as a liberal, in a way that supposedly blood-and-guts conservatives enjoy. And he is the un-Bush, championing a reset diplomacy whose cornerstone was not fighting wars against Middle Eastern Muslims on vague notions of national security and democratization. Yet a liberal attack on Obama over Libya would endanger his progressive domestic agenda. Add that all up, and there are no real anti-interventionist protests of the sort that destroyed the Bush administration — reminding us that the problem for liberals was not the Iraq War per se, but the fact that it was George Bush who oversaw it.

    Personally, I find it appalling that he announced that he has committed us to a war without talking to or preparing congress and flew off to Rio the same day. His fickle and feckless leadership is frightening.

  • Lily

    There are many valid reasons that conservatives are concerned with Obama’s leadership that it is hard to know where to begin. I think Victor Davis Hanson has summed up a few of the problems with Libya better than anyone else I have read. Here are some snippets from his commentaries put in no particular order of importance:

    1) We ignore congressional approval, broadcast to our enemies all sorts of self-imposed limitations on our use of force, have not defined the mission as the removal of Qaddafi, on day three are promising less rather than more military force, have no clue what is to replace him, and seem uncomfortable with a leadership role that would define victory and take the necessary measures to achieve it. Under those conditions, I am afraid this president has no business putting U.S. forces in harm’s way when he not only has not answered these questions, but apparently has never considered them.

    2) The administration is understandably uneasy about a third war against Middle Eastern Muslims, so it wishes to wage it beneath a multilateral veneer. We praise European participation but assume most of the firepower will come from the United States. France has one small aircraft carrier, Britain none, and the Arab world few, if any, planes that could even get to Libya and operate there on their own.

    3) After nearly three months, there is also still no typology, even if informal, offered of Middle Eastern unrest. The Obama administration has not explained how our muscularity with Libya fits into our larger policy of embracing “outreach” to Syria, not “meddling” in Iran, and keeping silent about Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Bahrain and about the popular unrest in the Gulf and Jordan. Where do we intervene in the region, for what and on behalf of whom, and how and for how long?

    4) What are we left with? A mission that is part Black Hawk Down, part the twelve-year no-fly zone in Iraq, part working with insurgents as in the 2002 removal of the Taliban, and part Bill Clinton’s various air campaigns over the Balkans. So far, no one has agreed on any objective other than that Qaddafi should not be killing his opponents.

    5) Like most Democratic wartime presidents, Obama accepts that he has far greater leeway to use force than would a Republican president; he appears to bomb reluctantly as a liberal, in a way that supposedly blood-and-guts conservatives enjoy. And he is the un-Bush, championing a reset diplomacy whose cornerstone was not fighting wars against Middle Eastern Muslims on vague notions of national security and democratization. Yet a liberal attack on Obama over Libya would endanger his progressive domestic agenda. Add that all up, and there are no real anti-interventionist protests of the sort that destroyed the Bush administration — reminding us that the problem for liberals was not the Iraq War per se, but the fact that it was George Bush who oversaw it.

    Personally, I find it appalling that he announced that he has committed us to a war without talking to or preparing congress and flew off to Rio the same day. His fickle and feckless leadership is frightening.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    lily @1

    recast your comments to be about our starting a war in Iraq. Tell me what the critical difference is. Please.

    I am not in favor of either case by the way.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    lily @1

    recast your comments to be about our starting a war in Iraq. Tell me what the critical difference is. Please.

    I am not in favor of either case by the way.

  • J

    fws,
    The difference between Iraq and Libya is that Iraq was thought to be an immediate threat (WMDs). What threat has Libya posed to the US? Also, Pres. Bush went through Congress for approval for military action…Pres. Obama has not.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_Resolution
    I hate that there is no distinction made within “conservative” ideas…Dr. Veith had post something a while back about the fact that there is more diversity of thought within the “conservative” side than the “liberal”. Labels do not help in clarifying anything here, only shared ideas.

    My “conservative” view is that our foreign policy has been one of propping up dictators and tyrants that favor American interests (Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc)…does the ends justify the means. The view that the enemy of my enemy is my friend is not good foreign policy. Anyhow, that’s my 2 cents.

  • J

    fws,
    The difference between Iraq and Libya is that Iraq was thought to be an immediate threat (WMDs). What threat has Libya posed to the US? Also, Pres. Bush went through Congress for approval for military action…Pres. Obama has not.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_Resolution
    I hate that there is no distinction made within “conservative” ideas…Dr. Veith had post something a while back about the fact that there is more diversity of thought within the “conservative” side than the “liberal”. Labels do not help in clarifying anything here, only shared ideas.

    My “conservative” view is that our foreign policy has been one of propping up dictators and tyrants that favor American interests (Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc)…does the ends justify the means. The view that the enemy of my enemy is my friend is not good foreign policy. Anyhow, that’s my 2 cents.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I am a conservative, which means, of course, that I completely disagree with contemporary conservatives, neo-cons, tea-partiers, and the like. The greatest problem I have with the war in Libya is that it is illegal – and I see no way of challenging this behavior in court. Now, the lives of our sons (and daughters, these days) can be spent on the whim of a pencil-necked Harvard grad and his international “drink tea from a silver spoon” cabal. A shame, that.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I am a conservative, which means, of course, that I completely disagree with contemporary conservatives, neo-cons, tea-partiers, and the like. The greatest problem I have with the war in Libya is that it is illegal – and I see no way of challenging this behavior in court. Now, the lives of our sons (and daughters, these days) can be spent on the whim of a pencil-necked Harvard grad and his international “drink tea from a silver spoon” cabal. A shame, that.

  • Carl Vehse

    “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 nations.” – Sen. Barack Obama, December 20, 2007

    “The president has no constitutional authority to take this nation to war against a country… unless we are attacked or unless there is proof that we are about to be attacked, and if he does, if he does, I would move to impeach him. The House obviously has to do that.” – Sen. Joe Biden, 2007.

  • Carl Vehse

    “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 nations.” – Sen. Barack Obama, December 20, 2007

    “The president has no constitutional authority to take this nation to war against a country… unless we are attacked or unless there is proof that we are about to be attacked, and if he does, if he does, I would move to impeach him. The House obviously has to do that.” – Sen. Joe Biden, 2007.

  • Larry Wright

    I wonder which side the 21st century USA would have helped in the 19th century American Civil War?

  • Larry Wright

    I wonder which side the 21st century USA would have helped in the 19th century American Civil War?

  • Lily

    @ fws:

    The critical difference between Bush and Obama?

    Bush: Our nation had been attacked without provocation. Bush spent more than a year trying to justify the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. Congress authorized the Iraq mission and listed 23 justifications for doing so. There was a stated mission, objectives, and an accounting of the costs. Bush formally announced the decision on national TV from the Oval Office. The nation was united in it’s commitment to intervene in Iraq after 911.

    Obama: There is no stated mission, objective, or accounting of the costs. Congress hasn’t debated or authorized this war. Secretary of State Clinton is reportedly furious with the administration. Vice President Biden, the purported foreign policy expert, is missing in action. President Obama left for Rio the same day he informally announced that he had committed our nation to war and he is still touring South America. We have stumbled into war and the intervention is both belated and haphazardly rushed at the same time, plus there is no consensus or unity in our nation to intervene in Libya.

  • Lily

    @ fws:

    The critical difference between Bush and Obama?

    Bush: Our nation had been attacked without provocation. Bush spent more than a year trying to justify the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. Congress authorized the Iraq mission and listed 23 justifications for doing so. There was a stated mission, objectives, and an accounting of the costs. Bush formally announced the decision on national TV from the Oval Office. The nation was united in it’s commitment to intervene in Iraq after 911.

    Obama: There is no stated mission, objective, or accounting of the costs. Congress hasn’t debated or authorized this war. Secretary of State Clinton is reportedly furious with the administration. Vice President Biden, the purported foreign policy expert, is missing in action. President Obama left for Rio the same day he informally announced that he had committed our nation to war and he is still touring South America. We have stumbled into war and the intervention is both belated and haphazardly rushed at the same time, plus there is no consensus or unity in our nation to intervene in Libya.

  • Lily

    @fws

    Please add this to the list of critical differences worth considering:

    The Libya war is new; the Iraq one was an escalation of a conflict that had been under way for 12 years. The U.N. Security Council had authorized action in Libya for the first time two days earlier, vs. 17 times in Iraq. Bush had persuaded a large majority of the public that escalating the war was a good idea; Obama did not present his case to either the public or Congress.

  • Lily

    @fws

    Please add this to the list of critical differences worth considering:

    The Libya war is new; the Iraq one was an escalation of a conflict that had been under way for 12 years. The U.N. Security Council had authorized action in Libya for the first time two days earlier, vs. 17 times in Iraq. Bush had persuaded a large majority of the public that escalating the war was a good idea; Obama did not present his case to either the public or Congress.

  • WebMonk

    Meanwhile, it appears that the coalition enforcing the no fly zone by attacking flying objects such as tanks and infantry columns….

    I missed that the first time I read the post.

    That is brilliant!!

  • WebMonk

    Meanwhile, it appears that the coalition enforcing the no fly zone by attacking flying objects such as tanks and infantry columns….

    I missed that the first time I read the post.

    That is brilliant!!

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    J @3

    “My “conservative” view is that our foreign policy has been one of propping up dictators and tyrants that favor American interests (Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc)…does the ends justify the means. The view that the enemy of my enemy is my friend is not good foreign policy. ”

    Amen.

    Add to that , that we have no business in militarily being engaged in regime change. None. That would be both immoral, and fortunately in the USA illegal.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    J @3

    “My “conservative” view is that our foreign policy has been one of propping up dictators and tyrants that favor American interests (Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc)…does the ends justify the means. The view that the enemy of my enemy is my friend is not good foreign policy. ”

    Amen.

    Add to that , that we have no business in militarily being engaged in regime change. None. That would be both immoral, and fortunately in the USA illegal.

  • Carl Vehse

    What?!? You haven’t been in a flying tank before?!

  • Carl Vehse

    What?!? You haven’t been in a flying tank before?!

  • WebMonk

    They better call in the strike fighters awfully quickly if they want to nail that tank while it’s flying! :-D

    In all seriousness, some tanks can have AA capabilities, as can some infantry units. However, it’s EXTREMELY unlikely all the tanks and infantry columns that were hit had those capabilities. (and I’ve never heard anyone claim that’s why those targets were hit) It’s pretty openly stated that the “No Fly Zone” is actually a generally low-grade air attack on Gaddafi’s forces in general to support the rebels.

  • WebMonk

    They better call in the strike fighters awfully quickly if they want to nail that tank while it’s flying! :-D

    In all seriousness, some tanks can have AA capabilities, as can some infantry units. However, it’s EXTREMELY unlikely all the tanks and infantry columns that were hit had those capabilities. (and I’ve never heard anyone claim that’s why those targets were hit) It’s pretty openly stated that the “No Fly Zone” is actually a generally low-grade air attack on Gaddafi’s forces in general to support the rebels.

  • Louis

    Ok, some observations:

    1. I cannot comment about the legality / non-legality of the operation. I don’t know enough.
    2. The context of the UN resolution was the fact that Gadaffi used genocidal language, and again and again used major military force against protestors – including fighter jets. I am not talking about rebel troops, I’m talking about unarmed civilian protestors.
    3. His troops had basically begin to enter Benghazi, a city of over 1 million people that were overwhelmingly against him.
    4. Put 2 and 4 together, and you have the possibility of a major genocidal event.
    5. Not intervening in such an event would damage the US and Europe’s foreign relations more than interveining.
    6. As soon as the resolution passed, Gaddafi announced a ceasefire, and almost immediately broke it.
    7. This further escalated the whole thing.

    Counterpoints:
    1. Europe and (especially) the US cannot really afford another war. This point weighs heavily.
    2. Why did the coalition then not invade Saudi Arabia for its intervention in Bahrain, or why don’t they invade Iran for its supression of its people?

    The latter is a matter both of scale and practical politics, ie Realpolitik. Intervention in Saudi Arabia will raise hell from Rabat to Djakarta. No one can afford that. It could lead to radicalisation that will make al-Qaida look like a garden party. As to Iran – massively more expensive, many more lives, plus the regime there, though murderous and oppresive, is not genocidal against its own people. Big difference.

    In the final analysis, there does seem to be a damned if you do, damned if you don’t nature to this thing.

    As to the legality. Maybe I should remark that the US congress hasn’e declared a single war since World War II, starting with Truman sending troops to Korea under a UN mandate, but without congressional input. To complain about that now is a bit moot – the horse has long since bolted. As to the people complaining that the case wasn’t made to the US public over several months, as with Iraq II – well, the whole issue here is not to get rid of a dicatotor (let’s just say that was the goal then), but to prevent immediate genocide. BIG difference.

    But in the end, one has to realise that this is Realpolitik. The big question now is, of course, and Gene hints at that, what to do next.

  • Louis

    Ok, some observations:

    1. I cannot comment about the legality / non-legality of the operation. I don’t know enough.
    2. The context of the UN resolution was the fact that Gadaffi used genocidal language, and again and again used major military force against protestors – including fighter jets. I am not talking about rebel troops, I’m talking about unarmed civilian protestors.
    3. His troops had basically begin to enter Benghazi, a city of over 1 million people that were overwhelmingly against him.
    4. Put 2 and 4 together, and you have the possibility of a major genocidal event.
    5. Not intervening in such an event would damage the US and Europe’s foreign relations more than interveining.
    6. As soon as the resolution passed, Gaddafi announced a ceasefire, and almost immediately broke it.
    7. This further escalated the whole thing.

    Counterpoints:
    1. Europe and (especially) the US cannot really afford another war. This point weighs heavily.
    2. Why did the coalition then not invade Saudi Arabia for its intervention in Bahrain, or why don’t they invade Iran for its supression of its people?

    The latter is a matter both of scale and practical politics, ie Realpolitik. Intervention in Saudi Arabia will raise hell from Rabat to Djakarta. No one can afford that. It could lead to radicalisation that will make al-Qaida look like a garden party. As to Iran – massively more expensive, many more lives, plus the regime there, though murderous and oppresive, is not genocidal against its own people. Big difference.

    In the final analysis, there does seem to be a damned if you do, damned if you don’t nature to this thing.

    As to the legality. Maybe I should remark that the US congress hasn’e declared a single war since World War II, starting with Truman sending troops to Korea under a UN mandate, but without congressional input. To complain about that now is a bit moot – the horse has long since bolted. As to the people complaining that the case wasn’t made to the US public over several months, as with Iraq II – well, the whole issue here is not to get rid of a dicatotor (let’s just say that was the goal then), but to prevent immediate genocide. BIG difference.

    But in the end, one has to realise that this is Realpolitik. The big question now is, of course, and Gene hints at that, what to do next.

  • Carl Vehse

    In her Real Clear Politics column, “America’s Descent Into Strategic Dementia,” Caroline Glick pictures the strategists and notes:

    Under jihadist commander Abu Yahya Al- Libi, Libyan jihadists staged anti-regime uprisings in the mid-1990s. Like today, those uprisings’ central hubs were Benghazi and Darnah.

    In 2007 Al-Libi merged his forces into al- Qaida. On March 18, while denouncing the US, France and Britain, Al-Libi called on his forces to overthrow Gaddafi.

    A 2007 US Military Academy study of information on al-Qaida forces in Iraq indicate that by far, Eastern Libya made the largest per capita contribution to al-Qaida forces in Iraq.

    None of this proves that the US is now assisting an al-Qaida takeover of Libya. But it certainly indicates that the forces being assisted by the US in Libya are probably no more sympathetic to US interests than Gaddafi is. At a minimum, the data indicate the US has no compelling national interest in helping the rebels in overthrow Gaddafi.

  • Carl Vehse

    In her Real Clear Politics column, “America’s Descent Into Strategic Dementia,” Caroline Glick pictures the strategists and notes:

    Under jihadist commander Abu Yahya Al- Libi, Libyan jihadists staged anti-regime uprisings in the mid-1990s. Like today, those uprisings’ central hubs were Benghazi and Darnah.

    In 2007 Al-Libi merged his forces into al- Qaida. On March 18, while denouncing the US, France and Britain, Al-Libi called on his forces to overthrow Gaddafi.

    A 2007 US Military Academy study of information on al-Qaida forces in Iraq indicate that by far, Eastern Libya made the largest per capita contribution to al-Qaida forces in Iraq.

    None of this proves that the US is now assisting an al-Qaida takeover of Libya. But it certainly indicates that the forces being assisted by the US in Libya are probably no more sympathetic to US interests than Gaddafi is. At a minimum, the data indicate the US has no compelling national interest in helping the rebels in overthrow Gaddafi.

  • kerner

    Louis @13:

    “well, the whole issue here is not to get rid of a dicatotor (let’s just say that was the goal then), but to prevent immediate genocide. BIG difference.”

    Oh yeah, a dictator who MIGHT kill his citizens of different ethnicity in large numbers (Libya) and a dictator who had been killing his citizens of different ethnicity in large numbers for over a decade and was continuing to do so (Iraq). Huge difference. Why didn’t I notice that before? Silly me.

  • kerner

    Louis @13:

    “well, the whole issue here is not to get rid of a dicatotor (let’s just say that was the goal then), but to prevent immediate genocide. BIG difference.”

    Oh yeah, a dictator who MIGHT kill his citizens of different ethnicity in large numbers (Libya) and a dictator who had been killing his citizens of different ethnicity in large numbers for over a decade and was continuing to do so (Iraq). Huge difference. Why didn’t I notice that before? Silly me.

  • Louis

    Kerner – silly yourself. The reason given for invading Iraq was something quite different (why can’t the Conservaties remember this??). There were established no-fly zones in response to Hussein’s genocidal activities. Top 1/3 of the country, bottom 1/3 of the country. They were well patrolled. Hussein by-and-large abided by them. Gaddafi immediately broke ceasefire.

    Does this mean that Libya now can develop into Iraq then? Possibly. As I said in my analysis, question is, what next?

  • Louis

    Kerner – silly yourself. The reason given for invading Iraq was something quite different (why can’t the Conservaties remember this??). There were established no-fly zones in response to Hussein’s genocidal activities. Top 1/3 of the country, bottom 1/3 of the country. They were well patrolled. Hussein by-and-large abided by them. Gaddafi immediately broke ceasefire.

    Does this mean that Libya now can develop into Iraq then? Possibly. As I said in my analysis, question is, what next?

  • Tom Hering

    “Yet a liberal attack on Obama over Libya would endanger his progressive domestic agenda. Add that all up, and there are no real anti-interventionist protests of the sort that destroyed the Bush administration — reminding us that the problem for liberals was not the Iraq War per se, but the fact that it was George Bush who oversaw it.” – Victor Davis Hanson quoted @ 12.

    Wisconsin Public Radio asked its listeners this morning:

    President Obama has authorized limited military action against Libya, saying the Libyan people must be protected from a “tyrant.” Should the U.S. be involved with military operations in Libya for humanitarian purposes? (emphasis added by host in broadcast).

    The majority of WPR’s listeners are probably not conservative. Yet WPR’s online poll currently (at noontime) shows 74% opposed. On humanitarian grounds.

    Yeah, we liberals are such weiners, we’d never risk our domestic agenda by publicly opposing an Obama decision or position. Try googling “Libya anti-war protests.”

  • Tom Hering

    “Yet a liberal attack on Obama over Libya would endanger his progressive domestic agenda. Add that all up, and there are no real anti-interventionist protests of the sort that destroyed the Bush administration — reminding us that the problem for liberals was not the Iraq War per se, but the fact that it was George Bush who oversaw it.” – Victor Davis Hanson quoted @ 12.

    Wisconsin Public Radio asked its listeners this morning:

    President Obama has authorized limited military action against Libya, saying the Libyan people must be protected from a “tyrant.” Should the U.S. be involved with military operations in Libya for humanitarian purposes? (emphasis added by host in broadcast).

    The majority of WPR’s listeners are probably not conservative. Yet WPR’s online poll currently (at noontime) shows 74% opposed. On humanitarian grounds.

    Yeah, we liberals are such weiners, we’d never risk our domestic agenda by publicly opposing an Obama decision or position. Try googling “Libya anti-war protests.”

  • kerner

    You know, now that I look at this a little more closely, the terms “genocide” and genocidal language” have been kind of twisted and redefined to fit Gaddafi’s language. See here:

    http://www.euractiv.com/en/global-europe/eu-prepares-worst-gaddafi-genocide-threats-news-502424

    I always thought genocide meant attempting to eradicate some identifiable ethnic or religious group. So far nobody has identified a group that is the object of this so called “genocide”. Killing armed rebels (even if you add large numbers of their unarmed supporters) is not genocide. And it seems that Gaddafi didn’t really even say that he was going to do that. Someone is simply claiming that what Gaddafi actually DID say was some kind of “code” for “genocide”.

    And people people say the Republicans make things up to rationalize the wars they fight.

  • kerner

    You know, now that I look at this a little more closely, the terms “genocide” and genocidal language” have been kind of twisted and redefined to fit Gaddafi’s language. See here:

    http://www.euractiv.com/en/global-europe/eu-prepares-worst-gaddafi-genocide-threats-news-502424

    I always thought genocide meant attempting to eradicate some identifiable ethnic or religious group. So far nobody has identified a group that is the object of this so called “genocide”. Killing armed rebels (even if you add large numbers of their unarmed supporters) is not genocide. And it seems that Gaddafi didn’t really even say that he was going to do that. Someone is simply claiming that what Gaddafi actually DID say was some kind of “code” for “genocide”.

    And people people say the Republicans make things up to rationalize the wars they fight.

  • Tom Hering

    I think Presidents (of both parties) make things up to justify the wars they start.

  • Tom Hering

    I think Presidents (of both parties) make things up to justify the wars they start.

  • kerner

    Louis @16:

    Oh BS. Saddam’s response top the numerous UN sacntions was to maneuver such that he proffited from them while has people suffered, starved and died in greater numbers than they did before the first Iraq war. So what if he didn’t have much of an air force after the first Iraq war, he found other ways to oppress and murder his people.

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

    And Gaddafi will react to the current attampts to control him from the outside the same way that Saddam did. He will govern his people by terror in ways that evade the control that foreigners can exert from afar.

    In the end, those foreign powers will either have to admit defeat or invade Libya and remove Gaddafi from power. Just as was the choice with Iraq.

  • kerner

    Louis @16:

    Oh BS. Saddam’s response top the numerous UN sacntions was to maneuver such that he proffited from them while has people suffered, starved and died in greater numbers than they did before the first Iraq war. So what if he didn’t have much of an air force after the first Iraq war, he found other ways to oppress and murder his people.

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

    And Gaddafi will react to the current attampts to control him from the outside the same way that Saddam did. He will govern his people by terror in ways that evade the control that foreigners can exert from afar.

    In the end, those foreign powers will either have to admit defeat or invade Libya and remove Gaddafi from power. Just as was the choice with Iraq.

  • DonS

    This is Europe’s problem. Libya is only a few hundred miles from France, and Libyan oil forms a substantial portion of Europe’s energy supply. Why are we involved? What is the U.S. interest in this conflict?

    Obama specifically stated that we want Ghaddafi out of power, BUT our forces are being used ONLY to protect civilian lives, not to advance the rebels’ strategic or tactical interests. That’s crazy. Since it is likely that both sides are killing or at least endangering civilians, how does our military even know what or who the objective is?

    Regardless of what one thought of the invasion of Iraq, it was, at least, easy to see the U.S. interest in its execution and outcome. And, Bush had the full backing and approval of Congress.

    The only portion of the U.S. budget which liberals like Obama are willing to point to for cuts in order to reduce the deficit is defense. So, how exactly are you going to cut defense if you keep involving our military in multiple wars, regardless of their “humanitarian” purpose? Each cruise missile costs $600,000.

    Conservatives hate senseless war just as much as liberals claim to. The difference seems to be that liberals are willing to fight wars as long as they can self-righteously claim that there is absolutely no U.S. interest being advanced by so doing.

  • DonS

    This is Europe’s problem. Libya is only a few hundred miles from France, and Libyan oil forms a substantial portion of Europe’s energy supply. Why are we involved? What is the U.S. interest in this conflict?

    Obama specifically stated that we want Ghaddafi out of power, BUT our forces are being used ONLY to protect civilian lives, not to advance the rebels’ strategic or tactical interests. That’s crazy. Since it is likely that both sides are killing or at least endangering civilians, how does our military even know what or who the objective is?

    Regardless of what one thought of the invasion of Iraq, it was, at least, easy to see the U.S. interest in its execution and outcome. And, Bush had the full backing and approval of Congress.

    The only portion of the U.S. budget which liberals like Obama are willing to point to for cuts in order to reduce the deficit is defense. So, how exactly are you going to cut defense if you keep involving our military in multiple wars, regardless of their “humanitarian” purpose? Each cruise missile costs $600,000.

    Conservatives hate senseless war just as much as liberals claim to. The difference seems to be that liberals are willing to fight wars as long as they can self-righteously claim that there is absolutely no U.S. interest being advanced by so doing.

  • Louis

    Granted, kerner, Genocide might not be the correct term. Let us look at the situation again: Here’s is Gaddaffi, well armed, with his troops poised to take the stronghold of his opposition. He has no qualms about shooting unarmed protestors, or civilians. The stronghold has a population of over a million. Gaddafi will kill. The AU turned against him. The Arab league wants him gone. If the Western powers did nothing, and a couple of hundered thousand people died – the diplomatic fall-out would be more than significant. Especially as the West interveined in Afghanistan, and the US, Britain and its allies went into Iraq. And there are a lot of military hardware already stationed in the area.

    What I’m suggesting is that one should look at the total picture, including the potential for diplomatic disaster, and the need for the West to be seen supporting the new democratic movements. Sure, they are not particularly pro-Western. But they are not particularly anti-Western either. Not to intervene could strengthen the hands of the anti-Western groups, which in the long run would very costly, from both a security and a diplomatic point of view.

    I am not saying that what is currently happening is the right thing. What I am saying is that the big picture is very complicated, and I for one am quite happy that I do not have to make the decisions. I do think that once Resolution 1973 past, and the Arab League gave their blessing, it became more expedient (diplomatically) to bomb than not to bomb. Had Bush waited for Blixen to finish his work, and managed to obtain an UN resolution, the diplomatic fall-out from Iraq would have been very, very different. The fact that many US conservatives don’t like the UN is neither here nor there, the fact is, from a Realpolitik pov, you have to work with people and institutions you do not particularly like. And you might still get burned anyway. International politics is very tricky business.

    Again, let me underline, this is REALPOLITIK. The morality of the situation as well as the ideal economic decision, could be very, very different.

  • Louis

    Granted, kerner, Genocide might not be the correct term. Let us look at the situation again: Here’s is Gaddaffi, well armed, with his troops poised to take the stronghold of his opposition. He has no qualms about shooting unarmed protestors, or civilians. The stronghold has a population of over a million. Gaddafi will kill. The AU turned against him. The Arab league wants him gone. If the Western powers did nothing, and a couple of hundered thousand people died – the diplomatic fall-out would be more than significant. Especially as the West interveined in Afghanistan, and the US, Britain and its allies went into Iraq. And there are a lot of military hardware already stationed in the area.

    What I’m suggesting is that one should look at the total picture, including the potential for diplomatic disaster, and the need for the West to be seen supporting the new democratic movements. Sure, they are not particularly pro-Western. But they are not particularly anti-Western either. Not to intervene could strengthen the hands of the anti-Western groups, which in the long run would very costly, from both a security and a diplomatic point of view.

    I am not saying that what is currently happening is the right thing. What I am saying is that the big picture is very complicated, and I for one am quite happy that I do not have to make the decisions. I do think that once Resolution 1973 past, and the Arab League gave their blessing, it became more expedient (diplomatically) to bomb than not to bomb. Had Bush waited for Blixen to finish his work, and managed to obtain an UN resolution, the diplomatic fall-out from Iraq would have been very, very different. The fact that many US conservatives don’t like the UN is neither here nor there, the fact is, from a Realpolitik pov, you have to work with people and institutions you do not particularly like. And you might still get burned anyway. International politics is very tricky business.

    Again, let me underline, this is REALPOLITIK. The morality of the situation as well as the ideal economic decision, could be very, very different.

  • Louis

    BTW, I do not give much credence to posturing by either Conservatives or Liberals, and even less so by Conservative/Liberal media. Many of those anti-war conservatives were braying for a war with Iran last year. And as Todd pointed out, many liberals are against the war too. Good ol’ Denis Kuchinich (spelling? I can never remember) wants Obama impeached.

    So all this yappity yap about Liberals this and Conservatives that is crap. It is all about posturing, domestically. But it changes once you deal with foreign issues, hence the apparent disconnect between say and do. anyway, as I have often remarked before, the terms “conservative” and “liberal” have become pretty much meaningless….

  • Louis

    BTW, I do not give much credence to posturing by either Conservatives or Liberals, and even less so by Conservative/Liberal media. Many of those anti-war conservatives were braying for a war with Iran last year. And as Todd pointed out, many liberals are against the war too. Good ol’ Denis Kuchinich (spelling? I can never remember) wants Obama impeached.

    So all this yappity yap about Liberals this and Conservatives that is crap. It is all about posturing, domestically. But it changes once you deal with foreign issues, hence the apparent disconnect between say and do. anyway, as I have often remarked before, the terms “conservative” and “liberal” have become pretty much meaningless….

  • Tom Hering

    “… the terms ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ have become pretty much meaningless …” – @ 23.

    I don’t agree, Louis. I think both terms have always encompassed multiple positions, which isn’t the same thing as meaninglessness. Minimally, a liberal is someone focused on society. While a conservative is someone focused on the individual. The interests of society and the interests of the individual are often in conflict, so liberals and conservatives are often in conflict, too. But the world is a better place for it.

    At least, that’s how I see it. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    “… the terms ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ have become pretty much meaningless …” – @ 23.

    I don’t agree, Louis. I think both terms have always encompassed multiple positions, which isn’t the same thing as meaninglessness. Minimally, a liberal is someone focused on society. While a conservative is someone focused on the individual. The interests of society and the interests of the individual are often in conflict, so liberals and conservatives are often in conflict, too. But the world is a better place for it.

    At least, that’s how I see it. :-)

  • DonS

    At least in the U.S., Tom, I think a better way to describe the distinction between liberals and conservatives is to say that a liberal is someone focused on advancing the interests of the public sector while a conservative is someone focused on advancing the interests of the private sector.

    Your definition might have been applicable 75 or 100 years ago, however.

  • DonS

    At least in the U.S., Tom, I think a better way to describe the distinction between liberals and conservatives is to say that a liberal is someone focused on advancing the interests of the public sector while a conservative is someone focused on advancing the interests of the private sector.

    Your definition might have been applicable 75 or 100 years ago, however.

  • Tom Hering

    DonS, public/private = society/individual, eh?

  • Tom Hering

    DonS, public/private = society/individual, eh?

  • DonS

    Tom @ 26: Not hardly. Prioritizing six figure 40 year pensions for retired public sector workers over providing benefits to those in genuine need, as is being done here in CA because of the budget crisis, is not a benefit to society, and certainly harms the individuals not receiving benefits.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 26: Not hardly. Prioritizing six figure 40 year pensions for retired public sector workers over providing benefits to those in genuine need, as is being done here in CA because of the budget crisis, is not a benefit to society, and certainly harms the individuals not receiving benefits.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Forgive me if it seems the goalposts have shifted a wee bit here.

    Let’s go aaaaall the way back to March 11 on this blog to read Dr. Veith (seemingly) approvingly quoting a Pajamas Media article on Libya:

    Whatever happened to the good old days when the U.S. aggressively confronted evil-doers and France screamed about our defiling the altar of the United Nations? Now, it is France and other European allies who are leading the way in confronting brutal dictators while the U.S. drags its feet so as not to look like an anti-Muslim resource-grabber. … The U.S. dithers on Libya despite direct requests for help. … When President Obama finally addressed [the Libya crisis], he did not mention Gaddafi by name. He didn’t call for his removal until late last week. … It was French President Sarkozy, not U.S. President Obama, who first called for a NATO-imposed no-fly zone on February 23.

    The message from uber-”conservative” Pajamas Media was clear: We — that is, Obama — should do something, now! He should’ve done something weeks ago.

    And then there was all of two days ago:

    But here is the problem: It may be too late. Gaddafi may have already crushed the revolt. … Is this Obama style of warfare, in which we no longer lead but follow and let other countries do the fighting for us, worthy of our country? Or is it about time other countries police the world and we start holding back for once?

    Too late! Obama should have done something a long time ago!

    Have you noticed the lack of references to Congress doing something? When “conservatives” were blaming the US for “dithering”, who, exactly was dithering? Congress, for not quickly passing a measure authorizing the use of force? Why, of course not! No, Obama got blamed! And now that force has been used, who gets blamed? That’s right, Obama. I’m certainly sympathetic to this latter argument, though it does tend to show up the insincerity of the former arguments.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Forgive me if it seems the goalposts have shifted a wee bit here.

    Let’s go aaaaall the way back to March 11 on this blog to read Dr. Veith (seemingly) approvingly quoting a Pajamas Media article on Libya:

    Whatever happened to the good old days when the U.S. aggressively confronted evil-doers and France screamed about our defiling the altar of the United Nations? Now, it is France and other European allies who are leading the way in confronting brutal dictators while the U.S. drags its feet so as not to look like an anti-Muslim resource-grabber. … The U.S. dithers on Libya despite direct requests for help. … When President Obama finally addressed [the Libya crisis], he did not mention Gaddafi by name. He didn’t call for his removal until late last week. … It was French President Sarkozy, not U.S. President Obama, who first called for a NATO-imposed no-fly zone on February 23.

    The message from uber-”conservative” Pajamas Media was clear: We — that is, Obama — should do something, now! He should’ve done something weeks ago.

    And then there was all of two days ago:

    But here is the problem: It may be too late. Gaddafi may have already crushed the revolt. … Is this Obama style of warfare, in which we no longer lead but follow and let other countries do the fighting for us, worthy of our country? Or is it about time other countries police the world and we start holding back for once?

    Too late! Obama should have done something a long time ago!

    Have you noticed the lack of references to Congress doing something? When “conservatives” were blaming the US for “dithering”, who, exactly was dithering? Congress, for not quickly passing a measure authorizing the use of force? Why, of course not! No, Obama got blamed! And now that force has been used, who gets blamed? That’s right, Obama. I’m certainly sympathetic to this latter argument, though it does tend to show up the insincerity of the former arguments.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And yes, Veith’s allusiong to “the coalition enforcing the no fly zone by attacking flying objects such as tanks and infantry columns” would be pretty funny … if your entire knowledge of the UN resolution text consisted entirely of: “it’s a ‘no-fly’ zone”.

    But if you look at the actual text of UN resolution 1973, you’ll find:

    Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory, and requests the Member States concerned to inform the Secretary-General immediately of the measures they take pursuant to the authorization conferred by this paragraph which shall be immediately reported to the Security Council;

    Hey, would you look at that! There’s more in that resolution than just a no-fly zone!

    Well, are civilians “under threat of attack” by tanks? I know, let’s ask Dr. Veith:

    Gaddafi is attacking his citizens with tanks and from the air.

    Huh!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And yes, Veith’s allusiong to “the coalition enforcing the no fly zone by attacking flying objects such as tanks and infantry columns” would be pretty funny … if your entire knowledge of the UN resolution text consisted entirely of: “it’s a ‘no-fly’ zone”.

    But if you look at the actual text of UN resolution 1973, you’ll find:

    Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory, and requests the Member States concerned to inform the Secretary-General immediately of the measures they take pursuant to the authorization conferred by this paragraph which shall be immediately reported to the Security Council;

    Hey, would you look at that! There’s more in that resolution than just a no-fly zone!

    Well, are civilians “under threat of attack” by tanks? I know, let’s ask Dr. Veith:

    Gaddafi is attacking his citizens with tanks and from the air.

    Huh!

  • DonS

    tODD @ 28: whose goalposts? Not, by and large, those of the commenters on this blog. Read the comments on the March 11 post.

    Congress doesn’t typically pass measures authorizing force until it has been asked by the administration to do so. To my knowledge, it hasn’t been asked.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 28: whose goalposts? Not, by and large, those of the commenters on this blog. Read the comments on the March 11 post.

    Congress doesn’t typically pass measures authorizing force until it has been asked by the administration to do so. To my knowledge, it hasn’t been asked.

  • Tom Hering

    DonS @ 27, a conservative arguing that it would be better for government to prioritize helping the needy. I don’t know what to say … :-D

  • Tom Hering

    DonS @ 27, a conservative arguing that it would be better for government to prioritize helping the needy. I don’t know what to say … :-D

  • DonS

    I know, Tom @ 31. Liberals have been pretty adept at demonizing conservatives beyond all reason and measure, but we do really care about others, believe it or not. It’s just that we don’t believe caring necessarily equates to throwing ever larger wads of cash at government bureaucrats.

  • DonS

    I know, Tom @ 31. Liberals have been pretty adept at demonizing conservatives beyond all reason and measure, but we do really care about others, believe it or not. It’s just that we don’t believe caring necessarily equates to throwing ever larger wads of cash at government bureaucrats.

  • kerner

    Louis @22:

    I understand the concept of Realpolitik, but I thank you for reminding us of it.

    But I just want to suggest that the US invasion of Iraq may have been based on a different kind of Realpolitik. As I pointed out @19, the UN sanctions weren’t working in Iraq. The oil for food program was being undercut by corruption which implicated even the UN secretary general.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil-for-Food_Programme#Abuse

    Our choice was to admit defeat, or invade Iraq and utterly defeat Saddam. In 2002, The United States simply could not afford to be defeated and humiliated by the likes of Saddam Hussein. So, we fought the Iraq war and Arab/Islamic leaders everywhere (including Gaddafi) took a step backward and decided that maybe the United States was something to worry about after all.

    That wasn’t the end of it of course. Bush and his administration has grossly underestimated what it would take to rebuild Iraq after we had taken it. Both political parties contrived to gain advantages from their support for, or opposition to, the war. And this, coupled with our ineptitude from 2003-2006, undid a lot of what we had gained. But by 2008, at least we had done some good in Iraq which may last for awhile and benefit us as well as the Iraqis.

    Maybe Obama can do some good in Libya. I hope some lessons have been learned from the Iraq war.

  • kerner

    Louis @22:

    I understand the concept of Realpolitik, but I thank you for reminding us of it.

    But I just want to suggest that the US invasion of Iraq may have been based on a different kind of Realpolitik. As I pointed out @19, the UN sanctions weren’t working in Iraq. The oil for food program was being undercut by corruption which implicated even the UN secretary general.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil-for-Food_Programme#Abuse

    Our choice was to admit defeat, or invade Iraq and utterly defeat Saddam. In 2002, The United States simply could not afford to be defeated and humiliated by the likes of Saddam Hussein. So, we fought the Iraq war and Arab/Islamic leaders everywhere (including Gaddafi) took a step backward and decided that maybe the United States was something to worry about after all.

    That wasn’t the end of it of course. Bush and his administration has grossly underestimated what it would take to rebuild Iraq after we had taken it. Both political parties contrived to gain advantages from their support for, or opposition to, the war. And this, coupled with our ineptitude from 2003-2006, undid a lot of what we had gained. But by 2008, at least we had done some good in Iraq which may last for awhile and benefit us as well as the Iraqis.

    Maybe Obama can do some good in Libya. I hope some lessons have been learned from the Iraq war.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@30), “Congress doesn’t typically pass measures authorizing force until it has been asked by the administration to do so.”

    Please point me to a news article demonstrating your claim when it comes to the “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists”, passed September 14, 2001 and signed by Bush on September 18.

    Any article you point me to should demonstrate that, between September 11 and September 14, 2001, Bush requested Congress pass an AUMF.

    And regardless of whether or not Congress “typically” does or doesn’t do these things, the question still remains: isn’t is possible for Congress to pass an AUMF that has not been requested by a President? Since “conservatives” are so very into the Constitution, why were they not decrying Congress’ failing to do so, if they thought we were “dithering” and possibly “too late”? Why did Obama take that blame?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@30), “Congress doesn’t typically pass measures authorizing force until it has been asked by the administration to do so.”

    Please point me to a news article demonstrating your claim when it comes to the “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists”, passed September 14, 2001 and signed by Bush on September 18.

    Any article you point me to should demonstrate that, between September 11 and September 14, 2001, Bush requested Congress pass an AUMF.

    And regardless of whether or not Congress “typically” does or doesn’t do these things, the question still remains: isn’t is possible for Congress to pass an AUMF that has not been requested by a President? Since “conservatives” are so very into the Constitution, why were they not decrying Congress’ failing to do so, if they thought we were “dithering” and possibly “too late”? Why did Obama take that blame?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@33), what you suggest may well be the actual reasons for why we went to war against Iraq in 2003, but it in no way was what was presented to us at that time by our government, nor were most “conservatives” arguing for military action based on such reasoning.

    This may have something to do with liberal opposition to that war, both then and now.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@33), what you suggest may well be the actual reasons for why we went to war against Iraq in 2003, but it in no way was what was presented to us at that time by our government, nor were most “conservatives” arguing for military action based on such reasoning.

    This may have something to do with liberal opposition to that war, both then and now.

  • kerner

    tODD @35:

    Actually, the Bush administration always asserted multiple reasons for going to war in Iraq, but also always emphasized which ever reason they hoped would be most convincing.

    The reason they emphasized the most was the now infamous claim that Saddam had “weapons of mass destruction”, which the administration probably believed to be true, but which turned out to be erroneous.

    But the administration regularly pointed to Saddam’s many violations of the UN resolutions that were the basis for the end of the first Iraq war as one resaon to invade, and also Saddam’s oppression of the Iraqi people. The problem was, Saddam had bought off the UN, and many of our “allies” through the corrupt “Oil for Food” program, so nobody was going to do anything about it but us. Even we might not have done anything about it, but so soon after 9/11, we just couldn’t afford to appear weak. So we put together whatever coalition we could and went ahead.

    Maybe this scenario offends some people, but if you really believe in “Realpolitik”, it shouldn’t. Even in the best cases, wars are fought for a combination of idealistic and Realpolitik reasons. The most just of “just wars” are never fought for justice alone.

  • kerner

    tODD @35:

    Actually, the Bush administration always asserted multiple reasons for going to war in Iraq, but also always emphasized which ever reason they hoped would be most convincing.

    The reason they emphasized the most was the now infamous claim that Saddam had “weapons of mass destruction”, which the administration probably believed to be true, but which turned out to be erroneous.

    But the administration regularly pointed to Saddam’s many violations of the UN resolutions that were the basis for the end of the first Iraq war as one resaon to invade, and also Saddam’s oppression of the Iraqi people. The problem was, Saddam had bought off the UN, and many of our “allies” through the corrupt “Oil for Food” program, so nobody was going to do anything about it but us. Even we might not have done anything about it, but so soon after 9/11, we just couldn’t afford to appear weak. So we put together whatever coalition we could and went ahead.

    Maybe this scenario offends some people, but if you really believe in “Realpolitik”, it shouldn’t. Even in the best cases, wars are fought for a combination of idealistic and Realpolitik reasons. The most just of “just wars” are never fought for justice alone.

  • Louis

    Kerner – “Even in the best cases, wars are fought for a combination of idealistic and Realpolitik reasons. The most just of “just wars” are never fought for justice alone.”

    True. But nobody has invaded Libya yet. The situations are not analogous – yet. Maybe the rebels should be armed. But the mistake of Iraq should not be repeated, namely of going into a pseudo-country (colonially created, held together by force only) and imagine that you are going to bring a new form of government and that everybody is going to say yea and amen. That is just arrogant, and costs lives, including that of your own people. But lets not argue about Iraq – it happened, and cannot be undone.

    It has also since appeared that France wanted to lead the effort in Libya, but on other’s insistence, NATO was asked, and seem to have agree to lead the military part, but not the political part. Reality is always complicated.

    Personally, I do understand the desire to protect civilians and rebels from atrocities. But what I do not see is a long term strategy. Where is this going? That is why I am ambiguous – the UN is not going to authorize regicide, and authorizing regime change is going to be more difficult – i can see the Russians and China vetoing that. Even just arming the rebels is going to be tricky. Thus the only possibility is to hope that the rebels can somehow drive Gaddafi’s forces back, and eventually capture Tripoli and/or Gaddafi. Time will tell if this is realistic, and how much it all will cost.

  • Louis

    Kerner – “Even in the best cases, wars are fought for a combination of idealistic and Realpolitik reasons. The most just of “just wars” are never fought for justice alone.”

    True. But nobody has invaded Libya yet. The situations are not analogous – yet. Maybe the rebels should be armed. But the mistake of Iraq should not be repeated, namely of going into a pseudo-country (colonially created, held together by force only) and imagine that you are going to bring a new form of government and that everybody is going to say yea and amen. That is just arrogant, and costs lives, including that of your own people. But lets not argue about Iraq – it happened, and cannot be undone.

    It has also since appeared that France wanted to lead the effort in Libya, but on other’s insistence, NATO was asked, and seem to have agree to lead the military part, but not the political part. Reality is always complicated.

    Personally, I do understand the desire to protect civilians and rebels from atrocities. But what I do not see is a long term strategy. Where is this going? That is why I am ambiguous – the UN is not going to authorize regicide, and authorizing regime change is going to be more difficult – i can see the Russians and China vetoing that. Even just arming the rebels is going to be tricky. Thus the only possibility is to hope that the rebels can somehow drive Gaddafi’s forces back, and eventually capture Tripoli and/or Gaddafi. Time will tell if this is realistic, and how much it all will cost.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 34: Please see the linked “CRS Report for Congress”, re your query. Not a “news article”, but probably actually a bit more reliable:

    http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RS22357.pdf

    The pertinent passage:

    In the days immediately after the September 11 attacks, the President consulted with the leaders of Congress on appropriate steps to take to deal with the situation confronting the United States. These discussions produced the concept of a joint resolution of the Congress authorizing the President to take military steps to deal with the parties responsible for the attacks on the United States. The leaders of the Senate and the House decided at the outset that the discussions and negotiations with the President and White House officials over the specific language of the joint resolution would be conducted by them, and not through the formal committee legislation review process. Consequently,
    no formal reports on this legislation were made by any committee of either the House or the Senate. As a result, it is necessary to rely on the texts of the original draft proposal by the President for a use of military force resolution, and the final bill, S.J.Res. 23, as enacted, together with the public statements of those involved in drafting the bill, to construct the legislative history of this statute. Between September 12 and 14, 2001, draft language of a joint resolution was discussed and negotiated by the White House Counsel’s Office, and the Senate and House leaders of both parties. Other members of both Houses of Congress suggested language for consideration through their respective party leaders.

    On Wednesday, September 12, 2001, the White House gave a draft joint resolution to the leaders of the Senate and the House. This White House draft legislation, if it had been enacted, would have authorized the President (1) to take military action against those involved in some notable way with the September 11 attacks on the U.S., but it also would have granted him (2) statutory authority “to deter and pre-empt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States.”4 This language would have seemingly authorized the President, without durational limitation, and at his sole discretion, to take
    military action against any nation, terrorist group or individuals in the world without having to seek further authority from the Congress. It would have granted the President open-ended authority to act against all terrorism and terrorists or potential aggressors against the United States anywhere, not just the authority to act against the terrorists involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks, and those nations, organizations and persons who had aided or harbored the terrorists. As a consequence, this portion of the language in the proposed White House draft resolution was strongly opposed by key legislators in Congress and was not included in the final version of the legislation that was passed.

    The floor debates in the Senate and House on S.J.Res. 23 make clear that the focus of the military force legislation was on the extent of the authorization that Congress would provide to the President for use of U.S. military force against the international
    terrorists who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001and those who directly and materially assisted them in carrying out their actions. The language of the enacted legislation, on its face, makes clear — especially in contrast to the White House’s draft
    joint resolution of September 12, 2001 — the degree to which Congress limited the scope of the President’s authorization to use U.S. military force through P.L. 107-40 to military actions against only those international terrorists and other parties directly involved in aiding or materially supporting the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. The authorization was not framed in terms of use of military action against terrorists generally.

    As you will see, indeed the White House not only requested this legislation, it provided a draft resolution on September 12, which Congressional leaders rejected as giving to much authority to the White House.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 34: Please see the linked “CRS Report for Congress”, re your query. Not a “news article”, but probably actually a bit more reliable:

    http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RS22357.pdf

    The pertinent passage:

    In the days immediately after the September 11 attacks, the President consulted with the leaders of Congress on appropriate steps to take to deal with the situation confronting the United States. These discussions produced the concept of a joint resolution of the Congress authorizing the President to take military steps to deal with the parties responsible for the attacks on the United States. The leaders of the Senate and the House decided at the outset that the discussions and negotiations with the President and White House officials over the specific language of the joint resolution would be conducted by them, and not through the formal committee legislation review process. Consequently,
    no formal reports on this legislation were made by any committee of either the House or the Senate. As a result, it is necessary to rely on the texts of the original draft proposal by the President for a use of military force resolution, and the final bill, S.J.Res. 23, as enacted, together with the public statements of those involved in drafting the bill, to construct the legislative history of this statute. Between September 12 and 14, 2001, draft language of a joint resolution was discussed and negotiated by the White House Counsel’s Office, and the Senate and House leaders of both parties. Other members of both Houses of Congress suggested language for consideration through their respective party leaders.

    On Wednesday, September 12, 2001, the White House gave a draft joint resolution to the leaders of the Senate and the House. This White House draft legislation, if it had been enacted, would have authorized the President (1) to take military action against those involved in some notable way with the September 11 attacks on the U.S., but it also would have granted him (2) statutory authority “to deter and pre-empt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States.”4 This language would have seemingly authorized the President, without durational limitation, and at his sole discretion, to take
    military action against any nation, terrorist group or individuals in the world without having to seek further authority from the Congress. It would have granted the President open-ended authority to act against all terrorism and terrorists or potential aggressors against the United States anywhere, not just the authority to act against the terrorists involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks, and those nations, organizations and persons who had aided or harbored the terrorists. As a consequence, this portion of the language in the proposed White House draft resolution was strongly opposed by key legislators in Congress and was not included in the final version of the legislation that was passed.

    The floor debates in the Senate and House on S.J.Res. 23 make clear that the focus of the military force legislation was on the extent of the authorization that Congress would provide to the President for use of U.S. military force against the international
    terrorists who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001and those who directly and materially assisted them in carrying out their actions. The language of the enacted legislation, on its face, makes clear — especially in contrast to the White House’s draft
    joint resolution of September 12, 2001 — the degree to which Congress limited the scope of the President’s authorization to use U.S. military force through P.L. 107-40 to military actions against only those international terrorists and other parties directly involved in aiding or materially supporting the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. The authorization was not framed in terms of use of military action against terrorists generally.

    As you will see, indeed the White House not only requested this legislation, it provided a draft resolution on September 12, which Congressional leaders rejected as giving to much authority to the White House.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 34: As to your secondary question, I suppose it would indeed be possible for Congress to act, sua sponte, without a request of the administration, to declare War. The president, of course, could veto that declaration, if he so desired. However, since the president is the Commander-in-chief, and is also constitutionally tasked with conducting foreign policy, it would be extraordinary for Congress to take that action without a request of the president. I am not sure that it has ever been done, and it would truly be an extraordinary thing for Congress to have done so in the case of the Libyan civil war, given the lack of definable U.S. interests, and the fact that the Senate and the House are in the hands of different political parties.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 34: As to your secondary question, I suppose it would indeed be possible for Congress to act, sua sponte, without a request of the administration, to declare War. The president, of course, could veto that declaration, if he so desired. However, since the president is the Commander-in-chief, and is also constitutionally tasked with conducting foreign policy, it would be extraordinary for Congress to take that action without a request of the president. I am not sure that it has ever been done, and it would truly be an extraordinary thing for Congress to have done so in the case of the Libyan civil war, given the lack of definable U.S. interests, and the fact that the Senate and the House are in the hands of different political parties.

  • Louis

    DonS – your own quote belies itself – it moves from quoting “(2) statutory authority “to deter and pre-empt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States.” “, to countering that in hte last paragraph –

    “The language of the enacted legislation, on its face, makes clear — especially in contrast to the White House’s draft
    joint resolution of September 12, 2001 — the degree to which Congress limited the scope of the President’s authorization to use U.S. military force through P.L. 107-40 to military actions against only those international terrorists and other parties directly involved in aiding or materially supporting the September 11, 2001 attack…”

    How do you reconcile that?

    What would be helpful though would be the legal/poltical context of Clinton’s involvement in Yugoslavia in the 90′s. Also actions taken in Panama against Noriega earlier, maybe.

  • Louis

    DonS – your own quote belies itself – it moves from quoting “(2) statutory authority “to deter and pre-empt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States.” “, to countering that in hte last paragraph –

    “The language of the enacted legislation, on its face, makes clear — especially in contrast to the White House’s draft
    joint resolution of September 12, 2001 — the degree to which Congress limited the scope of the President’s authorization to use U.S. military force through P.L. 107-40 to military actions against only those international terrorists and other parties directly involved in aiding or materially supporting the September 11, 2001 attack…”

    How do you reconcile that?

    What would be helpful though would be the legal/poltical context of Clinton’s involvement in Yugoslavia in the 90′s. Also actions taken in Panama against Noriega earlier, maybe.

  • DonS

    Louis @ 40: I’m not sure what you want me to reconcile. The article, and quoted passage, were cited directly as a response to tODD’s query @ 34 concerning the narrow question of whether the AUMF of September 2001 was issued by Congress on its own or at the request of the President. It has no bearing on the Libyan conflict at all, that I know of.

  • DonS

    Louis @ 40: I’m not sure what you want me to reconcile. The article, and quoted passage, were cited directly as a response to tODD’s query @ 34 concerning the narrow question of whether the AUMF of September 2001 was issued by Congress on its own or at the request of the President. It has no bearing on the Libyan conflict at all, that I know of.

  • Louis

    DonS, regarding the words used here, namely “definable U.S. interests” – the counter to that would be – would you be able to “go back in time”, and deny Rwandan involvement, knowing what you know now, based on the fact that there is no “definable US interest”. A hypothetical question sure, but one I’m sure lies heavy on the hands of leaders having to make these choices.

  • Louis

    DonS, regarding the words used here, namely “definable U.S. interests” – the counter to that would be – would you be able to “go back in time”, and deny Rwandan involvement, knowing what you know now, based on the fact that there is no “definable US interest”. A hypothetical question sure, but one I’m sure lies heavy on the hands of leaders having to make these choices.

  • Louis

    DonS – what Im questioning is the quote itself – it seems to contradict itself, and thus has limited use as a response to Todd.

  • Louis

    DonS – what Im questioning is the quote itself – it seems to contradict itself, and thus has limited use as a response to Todd.

  • DonS

    Louis @ 42: Again, I am not sure I understand the question. Unfortunately, as humans, we are limited to making decisions in real time, based on what we understand the facts to be at that time (which is one reason it frosts me that Bush is condemned in hindsight for invading Iraq, based on the facts as they were only known later). A president should not act to commit our forces to war absent a definable U.S. interest, whatever that may be.

  • DonS

    Louis @ 42: Again, I am not sure I understand the question. Unfortunately, as humans, we are limited to making decisions in real time, based on what we understand the facts to be at that time (which is one reason it frosts me that Bush is condemned in hindsight for invading Iraq, based on the facts as they were only known later). A president should not act to commit our forces to war absent a definable U.S. interest, whatever that may be.

  • DonS

    Louis @ 43: The quote comes from a Congressional Research Service report to Congress regarding the origins of this act. I don’t think it contradicts itself, but what it does say, unmistakably, is that President Bush asked Congress to pass the AUMA of 2001, and in fact actually proposed its language, on September 12. Congress then narrowed its scope before passing it on September 14. This fact directly answers tODD’s question, which was whether the president had asked for the act, or whether Congress had issued it on its own.

  • DonS

    Louis @ 43: The quote comes from a Congressional Research Service report to Congress regarding the origins of this act. I don’t think it contradicts itself, but what it does say, unmistakably, is that President Bush asked Congress to pass the AUMA of 2001, and in fact actually proposed its language, on September 12. Congress then narrowed its scope before passing it on September 14. This fact directly answers tODD’s question, which was whether the president had asked for the act, or whether Congress had issued it on its own.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@38), thanks. You did indeed answer my question.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@38), thanks. You did indeed answer my question.

  • Louis

    Don,

    So what you are saying at #44 is that even though it is a very real possibility that say 800 000 Tutsi’s (and some Hutu’s) might be killed over a short time span, intervention should not happen, because there is no (obvious) US interests involved?

    Again, the question is hypothetical, but important. It is important because I do suspect that the Rwandan non-intervention, and its horrific result, plays heavily on the minds of leaders taking decisions about current events. Thus considered, it might shed some light on the decisions that are currently being made, and have been made over the last week or so.

  • Louis

    Don,

    So what you are saying at #44 is that even though it is a very real possibility that say 800 000 Tutsi’s (and some Hutu’s) might be killed over a short time span, intervention should not happen, because there is no (obvious) US interests involved?

    Again, the question is hypothetical, but important. It is important because I do suspect that the Rwandan non-intervention, and its horrific result, plays heavily on the minds of leaders taking decisions about current events. Thus considered, it might shed some light on the decisions that are currently being made, and have been made over the last week or so.

  • DonS

    Louis @ 47: Your question is a very good one. It is hard to watch people suffer, especially at the hands of an unjust and evil government or rebellion. Especially when you have the means to potentially do something about it.

    I’m not saying it would never be appropriate for a president to determine that it is a tangible U.S. interest to assist an oppressed people, either militarily or the use of other types of foreign aid. But that interest should be well defined to the American people and to Congress before committing our treasure, both monetarily, but particularly the lives of our young warriors, to the cause.

    The problem with our government taking on these basically humanitarian projects is that they stretch our forces awfully thin, expend a lot of money and lives, and potentially reduce our readiness when a genuine military threat develops. We have a bad habit of leaving troops in every location we visit — we still have troops in western Europe, Korea, and even in Kosovo from the mid-90′s. As I said above, if the defense budget is the only part of the federal budget Democrats are willing to cut, then they had better stop committing our troops to potentially expensive engagements like Afghanistan and now Libya!

    Now a different question is what we should do personally to alleviate suffering like the examples you describe. I know and support a number of Christians who are taking great risk to minister to the Karen people on the Thai-Burmese border, who have been the victims of a systematic ethnic cleansing by the corrupt Myanmar government. That is a very worthy effort, though I would not recommend U.S. military intervention in that situation.

  • DonS

    Louis @ 47: Your question is a very good one. It is hard to watch people suffer, especially at the hands of an unjust and evil government or rebellion. Especially when you have the means to potentially do something about it.

    I’m not saying it would never be appropriate for a president to determine that it is a tangible U.S. interest to assist an oppressed people, either militarily or the use of other types of foreign aid. But that interest should be well defined to the American people and to Congress before committing our treasure, both monetarily, but particularly the lives of our young warriors, to the cause.

    The problem with our government taking on these basically humanitarian projects is that they stretch our forces awfully thin, expend a lot of money and lives, and potentially reduce our readiness when a genuine military threat develops. We have a bad habit of leaving troops in every location we visit — we still have troops in western Europe, Korea, and even in Kosovo from the mid-90′s. As I said above, if the defense budget is the only part of the federal budget Democrats are willing to cut, then they had better stop committing our troops to potentially expensive engagements like Afghanistan and now Libya!

    Now a different question is what we should do personally to alleviate suffering like the examples you describe. I know and support a number of Christians who are taking great risk to minister to the Karen people on the Thai-Burmese border, who have been the victims of a systematic ethnic cleansing by the corrupt Myanmar government. That is a very worthy effort, though I would not recommend U.S. military intervention in that situation.

  • Lily

    The U.N./Obama cover story of humanitarianism rings pretty hollow. If this was truly a concern, there would have needed to be interventions in the Sudan, Burma, North Korea, and other such nations long ago.

    This may interest some here – it’s a respectful letter to President Obama from Speaker Boehner where he outlines concerns. Concerns that I hope we can all agree with:

    Dear Mr. President:

    Thank you for your letter dated March 21, 2011, outlining your Administration’s actions regarding Libya and Operation Odyssey Dawn. The United States has long stood with those who seek freedom from oppression through self-government and an underlying structure of basic human rights. The news yesterday that a U.S. fighter jet involved in this operation crashed is a reminder of the high stakes of any military action abroad and the high price our Nation has paid in blood and treasure to advance the cause of freedom through our history.

    I respect your authority as Commander-in-Chief and support our troops as they carry out their mission. But I and many other members of the House of Representatives are troubled that U.S. military resources were committed to war without clearly defining for the American people, the Congress, and our troops what the mission in Libya is and what America’s role is in achieving that mission. In fact, the limited, sometimes contradictory, case made to the American people by members of your Administration has left some fundamental questions about our engagement unanswered. At the same time, by contrast, it appears your Administration has consulted extensively on these same matters with foreign entities such as the United Nations and the Arab League.

    It is my hope that you will provide the American people and Congress a clear and robust assessment of the scope, objective, and purpose of our mission in Libya and how it will be achieved. Here are some of the questions I believe must be answered:

    A United Nations Security Council resolution does not substitute for a U.S. political and military strategy. You have stated that Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi must go, consistent with U.S. policy goals. But the U.N. resolution the U.S. helped develop and signed onto makes clear that regime change is not part of this mission. In light of this contradiction, is it an acceptable outcome for Qadhafi to remain in power after the military effort concludes in Libya? If not, how will he be removed from power? Why would the U.S. commit American resources to enforcing a U.N. resolution that is inconsistent with our stated policy goals and national interests?

    In announcing that our Armed Forces would lead the preliminary strikes in Libya, you said it was necessary to “enable the enforcement of a no-fly zone that will be led by our international partners.” Do we know which partners will be taking the lead? Are there clear lines of authority and responsibility and a chain of command? Operationally, does enforcement of a no-fly zone require U.S. forces to attack non-air or command and control operations for land-based battlefield activities, such as armored vehicles, tanks, and combatants?

    You have said that the support of the international community was critical to your decision to strike Libya. But, like many Americans, it appears many of our coalition partners are themselves unclear on the policy goals of this mission. If the coalition dissolves or partners continue to disengage, will the American military take on an increased role? Will we disengage?

    Since the stated U.S. policy goal is removing Qadhafi from power, do you have an engagement strategy for the opposition forces? If the strife in Libya becomes a protracted conflict, what are your Administration’s objectives for engaging with opposition forces, and what standards must a new regime meet to be recognized by our government?

    Your Administration has repeatedly said our engagement in this military action will be a matter of “days, not weeks.” After four days of U.S. military action, how soon do you expect to hand control to these other nations? After the transition to coalition forces is completed, how long will American military forces remain engaged in this action? If Qadhafi remains in power, how long will a no-fly zone will be enforced?

    We are currently in the process of setting priorities for the coming year in the budget. Has the Department of Defense estimated the total cost, direct and indirect, associated with this mission? While you said yesterday that the cost of this mission could be paid for out of already-appropriated funds, do you anticipate requesting any supplemental funds from Congress to pay for ongoing operations in Libya?

    Because of the conflicting messages from the Administration and our coalition partners, there is a lack of clarity over the objectives of this mission, what our national security interests are, and how it fits into our overarching policy for the Middle East. The American people deserve answers to these questions. And all of these concerns point to a fundamental question: what is your benchmark for success in Libya?

    The American people take the use of military action seriously, as does the House of Representatives. It is regrettable that no opportunity was afforded to consult with Congressional leaders, as was the custom of your predecessors, before your decision as Commander-in-Chief to deploy into combat the men and women of our Armed Forces. Understanding some information required to respond may be classified, I look forward to a complete response.

    Sincerely,

    John A. Boehner

  • Lily

    The U.N./Obama cover story of humanitarianism rings pretty hollow. If this was truly a concern, there would have needed to be interventions in the Sudan, Burma, North Korea, and other such nations long ago.

    This may interest some here – it’s a respectful letter to President Obama from Speaker Boehner where he outlines concerns. Concerns that I hope we can all agree with:

    Dear Mr. President:

    Thank you for your letter dated March 21, 2011, outlining your Administration’s actions regarding Libya and Operation Odyssey Dawn. The United States has long stood with those who seek freedom from oppression through self-government and an underlying structure of basic human rights. The news yesterday that a U.S. fighter jet involved in this operation crashed is a reminder of the high stakes of any military action abroad and the high price our Nation has paid in blood and treasure to advance the cause of freedom through our history.

    I respect your authority as Commander-in-Chief and support our troops as they carry out their mission. But I and many other members of the House of Representatives are troubled that U.S. military resources were committed to war without clearly defining for the American people, the Congress, and our troops what the mission in Libya is and what America’s role is in achieving that mission. In fact, the limited, sometimes contradictory, case made to the American people by members of your Administration has left some fundamental questions about our engagement unanswered. At the same time, by contrast, it appears your Administration has consulted extensively on these same matters with foreign entities such as the United Nations and the Arab League.

    It is my hope that you will provide the American people and Congress a clear and robust assessment of the scope, objective, and purpose of our mission in Libya and how it will be achieved. Here are some of the questions I believe must be answered:

    A United Nations Security Council resolution does not substitute for a U.S. political and military strategy. You have stated that Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi must go, consistent with U.S. policy goals. But the U.N. resolution the U.S. helped develop and signed onto makes clear that regime change is not part of this mission. In light of this contradiction, is it an acceptable outcome for Qadhafi to remain in power after the military effort concludes in Libya? If not, how will he be removed from power? Why would the U.S. commit American resources to enforcing a U.N. resolution that is inconsistent with our stated policy goals and national interests?

    In announcing that our Armed Forces would lead the preliminary strikes in Libya, you said it was necessary to “enable the enforcement of a no-fly zone that will be led by our international partners.” Do we know which partners will be taking the lead? Are there clear lines of authority and responsibility and a chain of command? Operationally, does enforcement of a no-fly zone require U.S. forces to attack non-air or command and control operations for land-based battlefield activities, such as armored vehicles, tanks, and combatants?

    You have said that the support of the international community was critical to your decision to strike Libya. But, like many Americans, it appears many of our coalition partners are themselves unclear on the policy goals of this mission. If the coalition dissolves or partners continue to disengage, will the American military take on an increased role? Will we disengage?

    Since the stated U.S. policy goal is removing Qadhafi from power, do you have an engagement strategy for the opposition forces? If the strife in Libya becomes a protracted conflict, what are your Administration’s objectives for engaging with opposition forces, and what standards must a new regime meet to be recognized by our government?

    Your Administration has repeatedly said our engagement in this military action will be a matter of “days, not weeks.” After four days of U.S. military action, how soon do you expect to hand control to these other nations? After the transition to coalition forces is completed, how long will American military forces remain engaged in this action? If Qadhafi remains in power, how long will a no-fly zone will be enforced?

    We are currently in the process of setting priorities for the coming year in the budget. Has the Department of Defense estimated the total cost, direct and indirect, associated with this mission? While you said yesterday that the cost of this mission could be paid for out of already-appropriated funds, do you anticipate requesting any supplemental funds from Congress to pay for ongoing operations in Libya?

    Because of the conflicting messages from the Administration and our coalition partners, there is a lack of clarity over the objectives of this mission, what our national security interests are, and how it fits into our overarching policy for the Middle East. The American people deserve answers to these questions. And all of these concerns point to a fundamental question: what is your benchmark for success in Libya?

    The American people take the use of military action seriously, as does the House of Representatives. It is regrettable that no opportunity was afforded to consult with Congressional leaders, as was the custom of your predecessors, before your decision as Commander-in-Chief to deploy into combat the men and women of our Armed Forces. Understanding some information required to respond may be classified, I look forward to a complete response.

    Sincerely,

    John A. Boehner

  • Louis

    DonS: Ah, now we are getting close. I suspect that the short decision time might be the administration’s reply on why Congress wasn’t involved – and this goes back to Todd’s quotes @ 28. But given the critical situation in the Middle East, the need for the West to be seen doing something for greater Arab freedom, coupled with the desire to prevent a repeat of the Rwandan disaster (disaster in terms of diplomacy and reputation, as well as huminatarian tragedy), led to this decision.

    As such, though one might disagree, especially considering the financial impact as you note very well, one could certainly understand the decision (not only of your government, but mine as well). It is such informed opinions which I labour to create – whether we agree or disagree, at least lets do that intelligently and in an informed way, with due respect to all. If only the media and the politicians could emulate that…. but it won’t sell news now, would it? Better for them that we buy into tired old meta-narratives about liberals and conservatives and war etc etc (I’m not accusing you of this btw. I’m just pontificating … :) )

  • Louis

    DonS: Ah, now we are getting close. I suspect that the short decision time might be the administration’s reply on why Congress wasn’t involved – and this goes back to Todd’s quotes @ 28. But given the critical situation in the Middle East, the need for the West to be seen doing something for greater Arab freedom, coupled with the desire to prevent a repeat of the Rwandan disaster (disaster in terms of diplomacy and reputation, as well as huminatarian tragedy), led to this decision.

    As such, though one might disagree, especially considering the financial impact as you note very well, one could certainly understand the decision (not only of your government, but mine as well). It is such informed opinions which I labour to create – whether we agree or disagree, at least lets do that intelligently and in an informed way, with due respect to all. If only the media and the politicians could emulate that…. but it won’t sell news now, would it? Better for them that we buy into tired old meta-narratives about liberals and conservatives and war etc etc (I’m not accusing you of this btw. I’m just pontificating … :) )

  • Louis

    Lily, all very nice, but how would you respond to my question @42 and 47?

  • Louis

    Lily, all very nice, but how would you respond to my question @42 and 47?

  • kerner

    Louis:

    “[N]obody has invaded Libya yet. The situations are not analogous – yet.”

    True enough, if you limit the analogy to Iraq in 2003. But if you analogize Libya to Iraq in 1990 there are more parallels.

    In 1990 we chased the Iraqi army out of Kuwait, but we decided not to occupy Iraq, pretty much for the reasons you cite. But we encouraged the Iraqis to get rid of Saddam on their own. Hollywood even made a movie about it.

    But they weren’t strong enough. The overt rebels were mostly killed and the civilians from their communities suffered (many of them died too) for 12 years.

    The Libyan Army has a long and brutal history of controling the Libyan people. Those that remain loyal to Gaddafi probably believe, as you do, that the only thing that stands between them and keeping control of Libya is foreign intervention. But Gaddafi probably believes, as Saddam did before him, that the intervening foreigners don’t really have the desire or the will to invade Libya and then take responsibility for rebuilding it. So, his strategy will be, as Saddam’s was, to simply outlast the foreigners.

    This is why I say our choices years from now are likely to be:

    1) admit defeat and look weak and foolish, and
    2) invade Libya and then have to spend goodness knows how many years rebuilding it.

    Neither of these choices sounds very attractive to me. So, when we assess the realpolitik of getting involved in the Libyan situation, we ought to keep those likely choices in mind.

    Unfortunately, our fearless leader decided to commit us to intervening…on his way to that pick-up soccer match in Rio. I hope he had the time to give our Libyan strategy sufficient thought during the time outs.

  • kerner

    Louis:

    “[N]obody has invaded Libya yet. The situations are not analogous – yet.”

    True enough, if you limit the analogy to Iraq in 2003. But if you analogize Libya to Iraq in 1990 there are more parallels.

    In 1990 we chased the Iraqi army out of Kuwait, but we decided not to occupy Iraq, pretty much for the reasons you cite. But we encouraged the Iraqis to get rid of Saddam on their own. Hollywood even made a movie about it.

    But they weren’t strong enough. The overt rebels were mostly killed and the civilians from their communities suffered (many of them died too) for 12 years.

    The Libyan Army has a long and brutal history of controling the Libyan people. Those that remain loyal to Gaddafi probably believe, as you do, that the only thing that stands between them and keeping control of Libya is foreign intervention. But Gaddafi probably believes, as Saddam did before him, that the intervening foreigners don’t really have the desire or the will to invade Libya and then take responsibility for rebuilding it. So, his strategy will be, as Saddam’s was, to simply outlast the foreigners.

    This is why I say our choices years from now are likely to be:

    1) admit defeat and look weak and foolish, and
    2) invade Libya and then have to spend goodness knows how many years rebuilding it.

    Neither of these choices sounds very attractive to me. So, when we assess the realpolitik of getting involved in the Libyan situation, we ought to keep those likely choices in mind.

    Unfortunately, our fearless leader decided to commit us to intervening…on his way to that pick-up soccer match in Rio. I hope he had the time to give our Libyan strategy sufficient thought during the time outs.

  • DonS

    Fair enough, Louis. I certainly support our troops as they engage in this effort, and wish everyone concerned the best, especially the Libyan people. I want to see this work to alleviate the violence and suffering in that country, and to help to expedite the downfall of the old regime and the institution of a government that will exist to serve, rather than oppress, its citizens. It does surprise me, however, given Obama’s vociferous criticism of Bush and his execution of the Iraq War, that he has now engaged in many of the same actions that he was so critical of. Most especially, his failure to consult with Congress, in apparent direct contravention of the War Powers Act, is baffling, given his prior stance.

  • DonS

    Fair enough, Louis. I certainly support our troops as they engage in this effort, and wish everyone concerned the best, especially the Libyan people. I want to see this work to alleviate the violence and suffering in that country, and to help to expedite the downfall of the old regime and the institution of a government that will exist to serve, rather than oppress, its citizens. It does surprise me, however, given Obama’s vociferous criticism of Bush and his execution of the Iraq War, that he has now engaged in many of the same actions that he was so critical of. Most especially, his failure to consult with Congress, in apparent direct contravention of the War Powers Act, is baffling, given his prior stance.

  • kerner

    Louis @47:

    I hate to keep picking at this point, but is there any reason to believe that everybody in the colonially created nation of Rwanda was going to be any more likely to say “yea and amen” to a new form of government brought to it by foreign invaders than, say, Iraq was?

    Invading a country to tell its citizens they must be better behaved is always a lot harder than it sounds. That’s why a lot of people would require a really good (self-interested) reason to do it beyond alleviating the human suffering of the people whose country is to be invaded.

  • kerner

    Louis @47:

    I hate to keep picking at this point, but is there any reason to believe that everybody in the colonially created nation of Rwanda was going to be any more likely to say “yea and amen” to a new form of government brought to it by foreign invaders than, say, Iraq was?

    Invading a country to tell its citizens they must be better behaved is always a lot harder than it sounds. That’s why a lot of people would require a really good (self-interested) reason to do it beyond alleviating the human suffering of the people whose country is to be invaded.

  • Lily

    @ Louis

    Re:…how would you respond to my question @42 and 47?

    Why are you fascinated with hypotheticals that are not pertinent to the situation?

  • Lily

    @ Louis

    Re:…how would you respond to my question @42 and 47?

    Why are you fascinated with hypotheticals that are not pertinent to the situation?

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Lily – they are very pertinent to the situation: See DonS answers at 48 & 53, and my comment at 50. It helps explain the likely motivations here.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Lily – they are very pertinent to the situation: See DonS answers at 48 & 53, and my comment at 50. It helps explain the likely motivations here.

  • steve

    This action is not unconstitutional… yet. Obama still has time to get Congressional approval, if it lasts that long. But I can’t say it was well-advised. I also can’t see where this definitively falls under the purview of Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. If anything, Libya’s crackdown on the revolt would seem to bolster regional security. Toppling the regime would do more to cause instability in the Maghreb and the Middle East. I’m not saying it’s right; I’m just saying I don’t know if the UN Charter can be used as justification here.

  • steve

    This action is not unconstitutional… yet. Obama still has time to get Congressional approval, if it lasts that long. But I can’t say it was well-advised. I also can’t see where this definitively falls under the purview of Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. If anything, Libya’s crackdown on the revolt would seem to bolster regional security. Toppling the regime would do more to cause instability in the Maghreb and the Middle East. I’m not saying it’s right; I’m just saying I don’t know if the UN Charter can be used as justification here.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Kerner, oh absolutely. I think this is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. For instance, if the coalition didn’t attack, and Gaddafi entered and conquered Benghazi over this past weekend, and continued on towards Tobruk, we might have had a 100 000 deaths on our hands right now. Of course it would have been Gaddafi’s fault, but do you think the Arab world would ever trust the West again? Especially considering previous and current attempts in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the other hand, this could become Iraq 2.0 as per your suggestion.

    So what to do? It ain’t simple, is all I’m saying. Diplomacy and foreign relations never is.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Kerner, oh absolutely. I think this is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. For instance, if the coalition didn’t attack, and Gaddafi entered and conquered Benghazi over this past weekend, and continued on towards Tobruk, we might have had a 100 000 deaths on our hands right now. Of course it would have been Gaddafi’s fault, but do you think the Arab world would ever trust the West again? Especially considering previous and current attempts in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the other hand, this could become Iraq 2.0 as per your suggestion.

    So what to do? It ain’t simple, is all I’m saying. Diplomacy and foreign relations never is.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    I think everybody hopes now that the rebels would take the initiative. That seems to be the best result for all, except Gaddafi….

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    I think everybody hopes now that the rebels would take the initiative. That seems to be the best result for all, except Gaddafi….

  • SKPeterson

    The problem with our interventions (real or hypothetical) in Africa and/or Afghanistan and/or Iraq is that we are attempting to ply our realpolitik using rules and concepts suited towards conflicts and engagements between nation states and not internecine tribal conflicts contained within rather arbitrary and artificial borders. I have yet to find a plausible argument as to why the US needs to intervene and send its soldiers, sailors and airmen overseas to defend borders drawn up by the diplomatic corps of Britain and France. Those damnable lines are half of the problem – artificial nations cobbled together containing tribes with longstanding enmities and scores to settle. Wading in under realpolitik or humanitarian grounds in such situations is fraught with uncertainty as to the outcome and the trajectory of events. We assume that intervention in Rwanda and Burundi would have saved many thousands of lives, but we don’t know that for sure. Quite possibly, intervention would have escalated the slaughter and deaths would have exceeded 1 million. In Iraq and Afghanistan we have lurched from supporting one tribal group against another with little to show for it. We tried the same thing in Somalia and Lebanon with similarly spectacular results. Why should we expect Libya to be any different? Because someone in the White House or DOD or State says ,”Well, even though every other time we’ve intervened in inter-tribal conflicts we’ve gotten our troops killed with little to show for it, this time it’s different!” And off we go and wonder why the conflicts are never resolved, our troops never come home and we spend umpteen billions of dollars propping up regimes that can barely conceal their loathing of us. Pardon my cynicism, it’s just the realpolitik kicking in.

  • SKPeterson

    The problem with our interventions (real or hypothetical) in Africa and/or Afghanistan and/or Iraq is that we are attempting to ply our realpolitik using rules and concepts suited towards conflicts and engagements between nation states and not internecine tribal conflicts contained within rather arbitrary and artificial borders. I have yet to find a plausible argument as to why the US needs to intervene and send its soldiers, sailors and airmen overseas to defend borders drawn up by the diplomatic corps of Britain and France. Those damnable lines are half of the problem – artificial nations cobbled together containing tribes with longstanding enmities and scores to settle. Wading in under realpolitik or humanitarian grounds in such situations is fraught with uncertainty as to the outcome and the trajectory of events. We assume that intervention in Rwanda and Burundi would have saved many thousands of lives, but we don’t know that for sure. Quite possibly, intervention would have escalated the slaughter and deaths would have exceeded 1 million. In Iraq and Afghanistan we have lurched from supporting one tribal group against another with little to show for it. We tried the same thing in Somalia and Lebanon with similarly spectacular results. Why should we expect Libya to be any different? Because someone in the White House or DOD or State says ,”Well, even though every other time we’ve intervened in inter-tribal conflicts we’ve gotten our troops killed with little to show for it, this time it’s different!” And off we go and wonder why the conflicts are never resolved, our troops never come home and we spend umpteen billions of dollars propping up regimes that can barely conceal their loathing of us. Pardon my cynicism, it’s just the realpolitik kicking in.

  • Lily

    @Louis

    I’m just not into speculating about Obama’s unknowable motivations via Rwanda. I do think dealing with the facts and the reality of the situation is best. Pax.

  • Lily

    @Louis

    I’m just not into speculating about Obama’s unknowable motivations via Rwanda. I do think dealing with the facts and the reality of the situation is best. Pax.

  • kerner

    Louis:

    “It ain’t simple, is all I’m saying”

    We agree then. Does this mean we can also agree to cut W (who didn’t have the benefit of our hindsight) a little slack?

  • kerner

    Louis:

    “It ain’t simple, is all I’m saying”

    We agree then. Does this mean we can also agree to cut W (who didn’t have the benefit of our hindsight) a little slack?

  • Pingback: Britten War in Libya « Cbcburke9's Blog

  • Pingback: Britten War in Libya « Cbcburke9's Blog

  • Porcell

    The reality just now is that we have effectively taken out
    Ghadafi’s air power and a lot of his ground forces outside the cities. What’s needed now is a few special American and European forces with the ability to provide help to the rebels, especially to provide coordinates for precision air strikes in their fight within the cities.

    The trouble is that Obama lacks the will to seriously take on Ghadafi, even though he claims that Ghadafi should be removed from power.

    Both America and Europe have vital interests in supporting the Libyan rebels and influencing them on the form of a future democratic government. The interests have to do with stability in the Middle East and protecting its vital supply of oil.

    American isolationists and pacifists who are wringing their hands about this issue need to get real. The worse thing that America could do would be to abandon the Libyan rebels, who, however crudely, are putting their lives on the line to defeat Ghadafi.

  • Porcell

    The reality just now is that we have effectively taken out
    Ghadafi’s air power and a lot of his ground forces outside the cities. What’s needed now is a few special American and European forces with the ability to provide help to the rebels, especially to provide coordinates for precision air strikes in their fight within the cities.

    The trouble is that Obama lacks the will to seriously take on Ghadafi, even though he claims that Ghadafi should be removed from power.

    Both America and Europe have vital interests in supporting the Libyan rebels and influencing them on the form of a future democratic government. The interests have to do with stability in the Middle East and protecting its vital supply of oil.

    American isolationists and pacifists who are wringing their hands about this issue need to get real. The worse thing that America could do would be to abandon the Libyan rebels, who, however crudely, are putting their lives on the line to defeat Ghadafi.

  • Carl Vehse

    From the Official Friday Silliness Thread:

    Top 10 Rejected Obama Mission Names

    Apparently the White House tossed out a number of perfectly good names before arriving at “Operation Odyssey Dawn”:

    10. Operation Nine Months In The Senate Didn’t Prepare Me For This
    9. Operation Organizing for Libya
    8. Operation Double Standard
    7. Operation FINE! I’ll Do Something
    6. Operation Enduring Narcissism
    5. Operation So That’s What the Red Button Does
    4. Operation France Backed Me Into A Corner
    3. Operation Start Without Me
    2. Operation Unlike Bush Wars This One Is Justified Because Hey Look A Squirrel
    1. Operation Aimless Fury

  • Carl Vehse

    From the Official Friday Silliness Thread:

    Top 10 Rejected Obama Mission Names

    Apparently the White House tossed out a number of perfectly good names before arriving at “Operation Odyssey Dawn”:

    10. Operation Nine Months In The Senate Didn’t Prepare Me For This
    9. Operation Organizing for Libya
    8. Operation Double Standard
    7. Operation FINE! I’ll Do Something
    6. Operation Enduring Narcissism
    5. Operation So That’s What the Red Button Does
    4. Operation France Backed Me Into A Corner
    3. Operation Start Without Me
    2. Operation Unlike Bush Wars This One Is Justified Because Hey Look A Squirrel
    1. Operation Aimless Fury

  • Louis

    Porcell @ 63, I do agree with you that the best outcome now is for the rebels to defeat Gadaffi. However, the UN mandate doesn’t extend to the type of interference you refer to to, but at the same time, abandoning the rebels is the worst possibl thing.

    Something “more creative” maybe?

    As an aside, NATO has now officially taken over, with General Bouchard, a Canadian, in command.

  • Louis

    Porcell @ 63, I do agree with you that the best outcome now is for the rebels to defeat Gadaffi. However, the UN mandate doesn’t extend to the type of interference you refer to to, but at the same time, abandoning the rebels is the worst possibl thing.

    Something “more creative” maybe?

    As an aside, NATO has now officially taken over, with General Bouchard, a Canadian, in command.


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