Free Markets, Free People


Thoughts on Libya

I took a day off from blogging yesterday, just to hang out with my 4 grandsons.  It was well worth it.  But I wasn’t with them the entire time and during that other time it gave me a bet of an opportunity to reflect on the decision to go to war with Libya.  And, yes, I said war – no “kinetic military action” or “limited time, limited scope military action” nonsense from me.  When you fire missiles into a sovereign country, regardless of how you feel about what that country’s government is doing, you commit an act of war.

I obviously don’t come from the “war never settles anything” crowd.  I’ve made a study of war, spent 28 years serving in the military and understand the reality of and reasons for wars.  And, yes, I believe – and history supports my belief – that sometimes war does settle some things, although not necessarily the way we’d prefer they be settled.

But to focus on Libya in particular, what I see here is probably one of the most dangerous precedents yet for committing our military and country too an action.  It is dangerous for any number of reasons.  But I’ll lay out the first by quoting Secretary of Defense Gates today:

Asked on NBC whether the mission in Libya was vital to U.S. interests, Gates said: “No, I don’t think it’s a vital interest for the United States, but we clearly have interests there and it’s a part of the region, which is a vital interest for the United States.”

Whatever our “clear” interests there are, and Gates didn’t elaborate, they’re not “vital interests” for this nation.  Or said another way, there is nothing going on in Libya that would threaten anything we’d consider to vital to our national interests, survival, etc.  Nothing.  So what follows is a bit of Gate’s word salad that attempts to rationalize the intervention there.

Gates on ABC:

TAPPER: " Do you think Libya posed an actual or imminent threat to the United States?"

GATES: "No, no. It was not — it was not a vital national interest to the United States, but it was an interest: … the engagement of the Arabs, the engagement of the Europeans, the general humanitarian question that was at stake … [Y]ou had a potentially significantly destabilizing event taking place in Libya that put at risk potentially the revolutions in both Tunisia and Egypt."

“Not a vital national interest”, “potentially significant”?  Posed no “actual or imminent threat to the United States”.

The first and only reason for going to war should be a threat to our vital national interests.  Otherwise we should have no interest in going to war.

One of the things that particularly peeved the left about the Iraq invasion was their claim that it did not serve our vital national interests.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard them say “Iraq was never a threat to us”.  And that was more true than not when we discovered the lack of WMDs eventually.  Prior to that, and with the rise of terrorism, not to mention his overt and covert support of terrorism, most who supported the invasion felt that those elements (WMD, rise of terrorism, support of terrorism) and his grudge against the US did indeed make him a threat to our nation.

Obviously, he turned out to be more blow than go, but it doesn’t change the fact that there were indeed, at least initially, rational national security  reasons that could be argued for taking him out.

There are none for Libya.  None.

And don’t forget we had evidence that Saddam’s government was systematically killing people on a pretty large scale at the time as well.  Reports of mass arrests, mass graves, rape rooms and feeding people through wood chippers were pretty commons.  But that, in and of itself, was not enough of a reason, as far as the left was concerned, to intervene (remember, at the time we were enforcing a no-fly zone while these things were going on).

Given the pretext for going into Libya (for exactly that reason – i.e. the government is killing civilians), the invasion of Iraq stood on much firmer national security grounding.

And that’s really my point here – any action/war to which our military is committed should first meet the requirement of “compelling national interest” as in an immediate threat to the US either militarily or in other ways which will severely effect the country and its citizens.

Libya does not rise to that level.

Which brings me to my second point.   The role of the UN in this and the lack of a Congressional role.  Again, say what you like about Iraq, but anyone who calls it an “illegal war” does so out of pure spite because it simply isn’t true.  The war was literally authorized by Congress when it told the Commander in Chief he had the power and authorization to use military force there.  Now that may not satisfy some who demand that a declaration of war be issued, but for the rest of us who can reason, we understand that’s precisely what the AUMF was.

In the case of Libya, the authorization this administration used was that of an external body unanswerable to the Congress of the US or its people.  I don’t recall the Constitution allowing that.   While I understand the war powers act gives a president some discretion in committing the US military without immediate Congressional approval, I’m not sure this measures up (but that is an argument for another day) to even that.  What I do know, though, is on the 61st day of this war, if Congress doesn’t authorize its continuance and the president refuses to end our involvement, it will become an illegal war.

More importantly though, I object strenuously to the use of the UN as a reason to commit our men and women to conflict.  That is a decision for Congress and the President to work out first.  If the UN goes along, or even if it doesn’t, is really irrelevant if Congress and the President decide – for compelling national interest – to commit us to a war.  That is our process and it was not used this time by any stretch of the imagination.  Telling Congress what is happening when it is happening isn’t at all the definition of “in consultation with Congress”.

Finally there’s the rationalization that’s going on about Libya and our reason for participating in attacking it.  And it is simply amazing.  It speaks to a completely arbitrary standard for such intervention.

Hillary Clinton today:

“No,” Clinton said, when asked on the CBS “Face the Nation” program if the U.S. would intervene in Syria’s unrest. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s security forces clashed with protesters in several cities yesterday after his promises of freedoms and pay increases failed to prevent dissent from spreading across the country.

Clinton said the elements that led to intervention in Libya — international condemnation, an Arab League call for action, a United Nations Security Council resolution — are “not going to happen” with Syria, in part because members of the U.S. Congress from both parties say they believe Assad is “a reformer.”

“What’s been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning, but there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities,” Clinton said, referring to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s attacks on the Libyan people, “than police actions which, frankly, have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.”

Is there a difference to the dead citizens in Syria, Ms. Clinton?  Does it mean that as long as Assad – the “reformer” (good grief) – keeps his air power grounded, indiscriminate killing of civilians will be tolerated? Because that certainly is what that sound bite suggests.  Oh, and a few lawmakers calling a murderous tyrant a “reformer” apparently carries a lot of weight.

So, what have we as a result?

We have the US military fighting at the behest of the UN.  We have no vital national interest in the war.  It appears to be the result of the application of an arbitrary standard.  It was committed too without consulting Congress and on the 61st day without Congressional approval, it becomes an illegal war.

Does that all sound like something we should support and encourage?

~McQ

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Print
  • Google Bookmarks

13 Responses to Thoughts on Libya

  • People seem to keep forgetting that Saddam also demonstrated himself as a threat to his neighbors.  Some of which are our supposed friends.

    And the fact he was willing to roll across his borders is where the UN is suppose to come in.  Qaddafi either from lack of will or ability never demonstrated himself to be the level of threat Saddam was.

    Anyway, this youtube seems pertinent.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAyCdfOXvec
    (computer generated co-worker discussion about Libya vs. Iraq)

  • “Does that all sound like something we should support and encourage?”

    Yes. You dense righties are just against it because a Democrat is president. If a Republican were president, you would be all like “Hey, let’s go kill Quadcoffi. And a whole bunch of other Arabs while we’re at it.” Because you are all imperialists. I decree it.

    And don’t start up about Iraq, as if you guys understood anything about it. This conflict is different because Obama’s world class intellect and temperament and finely creased pants mean that if he wants to do it, it’s automatically a good idea. He thinks like me. His christlike visage inspires all who look upon him, except those heretics tea partiers who are determined to see him fail.

    This is the anti tea party, and young Arabs are rising up and joining Twitter and changing the world. I know you thick, nasty righties just can’t stand it to see them becoming our equals, but the holy writ of post-modernism is clear on this: noble brown savages are not just our equals, they’re our betters. They will probably form a wonderful leftist utopia, dropping the extremist parts of their religion which only a tiny minority believe anyway. And don’t you dare ask for any support for my assertion that it’s only a tiny minority. How many times do I have to tell you that my godlike powers of political science put me above all that?

    Though I just want to engage with you as equals. Yep, isn’t it wonderful that I am willing to come here, and stoop down to the level of talking to ill-informed, inbred, sterile thuggish righties who act like Goebbels?

    It’s quite good of me, if I do say so myself. My colleagues in the faculty lounge are in awe of my ability to do it, and when I regale them with tales of how I have gone into the lion’s den and bested all comers in debate, they nods their heads in approval. Just like when I warn them about the magenta caterpillars with Sarah Palin’s face and ample bosom that seem to pop up around campus from time to time. They nod their heads, and in a spirit of fellowship get me a nice, cold drink and remind me that it’s time to take my blue pills.

    Anyway, the stagnant old ways are disappearing, and Obama is showing how smart and capable he is as he pulls out yet another brilliant display of diplomacy to assemble a huge coalition. And the fact that it has far fewer countries than Bush got for the biggest foreign policy disaster in history when he invaded Iraq is completely beside the point, because THIS coalition contains our betters, the wise Europeans.

    This cinches his re-election for sure. Count on it, because I am a professional political scientist who knows about such things. And if you bring up the election of 2010 and start crowing about how I was off in never-never-land on my predictions there, I’ll just have to come here and irritate you for fun every day for about three months. Except during my trip to Italy, which I don’t either trot out to try and burnish my credentials as a world-wise traveller who you should listen to. I just mention it in passing. And just shut up about how irritating people for fun is a sign of a pathological psychological disorder. It’s not, at least not when wise pragmatic leftist social science academics to it to dense righties. Because you deserve it.

    Besides, it’s just irresistable to post something and then watch you flounder about trying to refute it. Why do you even try, when I have the godlike power to handwave aside anything you say? And then you have the nerve to insult me, instead of seeing how magnonymous mangonymoose magmaminous nice I am to treat you as equals. Come on, don’t you want to stop with all the insults and go back and forth a thousand times? Please?

    • The high-point of a long week of incredible news, Ott.
      I would have loved an allusion to how the Frankfurt School was all about individual liberty, anti-Communism, and the Enlightenment, but that would just be the cherry on top…

  • You are very lucky and blessed to have four grandchildren. Take it from a man who could never have children. Often we take things in life for granted. Give thanks to God for what you have and always show consideration to those who have less than you.

  • You are right about the authorization issue, BUT comparing Syria and Libya is not fair. The US will not intervene in Syria b/c the Syrian government has much more leverage over the US than Qaddafi did. Any intervention in Syria is likely to bring Iran into that conflict, which puts allies in the Middle East, foremost Israel, into the risk of Hizbullah attacks and nuclear confrontation. Libya, on the other hand, is a relatively costless intervention. This is what Clinton cannot say: “we are afraid of the consequences of intervening in Syria”.

  • The schadenfreude is so thick here, you could cut it with a butter-knife.
    Every.
    Single.
    Position of the Collective over the last ten years is lying in tiny tatters.
    And, with YouTube, it is NOT going un-noticed.
    It was ALL just talking-points.  All just the crassest possible politics. From GITMO on…

  • Bruce, while I agree that we have no vital interest in Libya, I have mixed feelings about the whole endeavor.  The Democrat’s criticism of Bush during the Iraq war (which just about all of them voted for) was never about principle, it was about naked politics.  To me that’s unforgivable, and I still  consider them all despicable scum.  While it’s obvious that Obaba is a clueless dolt, I don’t want to see Conservatives pulling the same crap the back-stabbing Democrats did, just trying to score political points with a war. I know there are many differences between Iraq and Libya, but I’ve heard criticisms from prominent Republicans that sound eerily like what the Dems were saying years ago.  I hope I’m wrong.

  • Clinton said the elements that led to intervention in Libya — international condemnation, an Arab League call for action, a United Nations Security Council resolution — are “not going to happen” with Syria, in part because members of the U.S. Congress from both parties say they believe Assad is “a reformer.” [emphasis mine - dj505]

    Jeebus, I knew that the Congress is a pack of dumbsh*ts, but which morons actually said THAT????  Were they drunk at the time or did they REALLY believe that Baby Assad is a “reformer”?

    McQI object strenuously to the use of the UN as a reason to commit our men and women to conflict.  That is a decision for Congress and the President to work out first.  If the UN goes along, or even if it doesn’t, is really irrelevant if Congress and the President decide – for compelling national interest – to commit us to a war. 


    I absolutely agree.  The United States is a sovereign nation.  Subject to treaty, our national decisions are up to the American people AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ALONE, acting through our elected representatives (gag) to make.  I was flabbergasted to hear even the Hilldabeast so brazenly claim that, “Well, the UN said it was cool, so that’s good enough for us!”

    RagspierreEvery. Single. Position of the Collective over the last ten years is lying in tiny tatters.

    First of all, as you note, the various positions were nothing more that political talking points: the libs outside of the really (should be) committed anti-war left, never believed what they said about Bush and the war in Iraq.  This is because lefties generally lack the intellect and the moral fiber to be honest about anything.  Sherriff Joe is a perfect example: he was ready to impeach Bush had he bombed Iran, but The Dear Golfer bombing Libya is not only OK, but an example of statesmanship of the highest order.

    I agree with Rob Bernstein: these people are despicable scum, and it becomes more apparent every time they open their whore mouths.  No wonder The Dear Golfer doesn’t want to go on TV to talk about Libya: even he is smart enough to know that his position is indefensible and nonsensical, and the less said about it the better.

    McQWe have the US military fighting at the behest of the UN.  We have no vital national interest in the war.  It appears to be the result of the application of an arbitrary standard.  It was committed too without consulting Congress and on the 61st day without Congressional approval, it becomes an illegal war.

    Not that I disagree, but “illegal” is such a meaningless term these days.  After all, the left cried that Iraq was “illegal” (right up until The Dear Golfer became responsible for it).  I suggest that it’s “legal” so long as those morons in the Congress don’t take an actual vote and declare it unequivocally to be “illegal”.  This they will not do: the GOP because they fear the PR backlash from “not supporting the military” and “playing politics while we’re at war”, and the dems because they will reflexively go to the mat for their messiah.  In either case, Libya simply isn’t a big enough deal to make a stink about: we’re bombing some people at little or no cost to ourselves, so who cares?  So long as too many Americans aren’t killed, I suggest that ANY president can fight all the “illegal” wars he wants, Congress having more important things to do (like investigating steroid use in baseball, the cost of breakfast cereals, naming post offices, etc.) than involving itself in military affairs.

    Come to think of it, that might be a good thing.  As bumbling as The Dear Golfer and his idiot advisors are, do we REALLY want military decisions to be made by the likes of Yosemite Sam, Trashcan Chuckie, Commie Sanders, Kookcinich, Bawney Fwank, and Grahamnesty?

    • I disagree on whether Congress will declare it “illegal,” but they won’t just declare it “illegal.”  Instead, they will give it a time limit, which I expect to be the War Powers 60 day limit.  Today, there was talk of 90 days to 6 months … well that ain’t gonna happen.  I expect Obama to take it to 62 days just to thumb his nose (or give one of those middle finger neck rubs).

  • I was for letting the Libyans fight it out amongst themselves with no bother from the U.S. but now that we’re at war there,I think of the endevour as “The Libyan Theater of Operations” in the wider conflict against those whose names shall not be mentioned for fear they’ll chop my head off…or worse..sue me.

    • ““The Libyan Theater of Operations” in the wider conflict against those whose names shall not be mentioned for fear they’ll chop my head off…or worse..sue me.”

      Unfortunately there’s every reason to believe we’re providing close air support for AlQueda.   Khaddafi is no friend of theirs.

  • Now we’ve seen that Obama’s speech is totally at odds with reality and we also learn that A10s and AC130s have been operating to sweep away the Libyan heavy armor and artillery, don’t you think that this is really an exercise whose end goal is the deployment of troops?

    From where I sit it looks like first the coalition did the standard “gain air supremacy” by smashing the Libyan airforce and SEADS operations (under the guide of creating a no fly zone), now they are in full swing wiping out the Libyan heavy armor, artillery and presumably fortifications… doesn’t this imply, in the normal course of war, that troop deployments will be next? It seems to me that by neutralizing the Libyan regular army and depriving the rebels of any real heavy equipment the stage is set to walk in and assume control. Otherwise, they are just going to create a power vacuum in which the country will disintegrate into warring factions.

    Obama seems intent on pretending that these things aren’t happening and his speech discussed the situation a week ago with piss-weak attempts at justifying his illegal declaration of war. Is he really such a weak president that NATO is doing as it merrily pleases without him knowing or even guessing??