Washington Post Editorial: The United States watches as Gaddafi gains

Possible interventions include not only a no-fly zone but also providing weapons to the rebels, offering inducements to Gaddafi loyalists to defect, jamming Libyan military radio transmissions or bombing Mr. Gaddafi’s tanks and artillery when they move east. Each option carries risks for the United States, and Mr. Obama’s caution is understandable.

On the other hand, Mr. Gaddafi’s military is weak, and many Libyans clearly are desperate for change. And a Gaddafi victory also carries risks for U.S. interests, as Mr. Obama himself has said. A sacking of Benghazi will be accompanied and followed by a horrific bloodbath. A revitalized dictator is likely to be distinctly unfriendly to Western interests. And other despots will conclude that Mr. Gaddafi’s brand of merciless revenge brings better results than the Tunisian and Egyptian models of accommodating people’s yearning for freedom ”” and that American threats to the contrary can be discounted.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Libya, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Violence

94 comments on “Washington Post Editorial: The United States watches as Gaddafi gains

  1. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    I find the Washington response extraordinary at the moment. Here is a dictator bombing and murdering people, and not only is Washington not acting, but is shilly-shallying preventing others from taking action to prevent the murder of what Gaddaffi calls ‘rats’.

    Our government can’t work out what the policy of the US is, if it has any at all, other than to shilly-shally.

    Fortunately the French are showing a remarkable lead, and apparently they have the assurance of other Arab countries that they will contribute military assistance as well according to the French Foreign Minister’s blog – a very rough translation given my schoolboy French:
    [blockquote]Our Honor:

    It is not enough to proclaim, as has been done by the large democracies, that “Gaddaffi should leave”. Effective aid should be given to those who have taken up arms against the dictator.

    The legal and financial sanctions decided on by the United Nations and the European Union are useful. But they will not give results for some time. There is urgency.

    Only the threat of the use of force will stop Gaddaffi. It is by bombarding, with many aircraft and helicopters the positions of his opponents, that the Libyan dictator has been able to hang on. We are able to neutralise this air advantage. This is what France and Great Britain have proposed for the last two weeks. There are two conditions: obtaining a United Nations Security Council mandate, the only international source of the right to use force; and in addition to obtain the effective participation of the Arab countries. This second condition is being satisfied: several Arab countries have given us a commitment that they will take part. France, Great Britain and Lebanon have come to lodge in New York the draft resolution for the mandate to undertake this. The French President and the British Prime Minister have called for the members of the [Security] Council to consider and adopt it.

    It has often seemed recently that weakness of the democracies leaves the free field for dictators. It is not yet too late disprove this view. It will be the honor of France to have done all it can to do the right thing.[/blockquote]
    Bravo!

    We should do the right thing. There does not need to be another Holocaust or Cambodia.

  2. Mark Johnson says:

    As Senator Webb (VA) wisely wrote, we don’t know the enemy of Gaddafi. These groups are not people we have any knowledge or relationship with. They likely ARE better than Gaddafi, but we don’t know what their goal/intention is. It would be dangerous for us to suddenly arm and support them because we share a mutual enemy (see Afghanistan in the 1980s as an example). Further, we can’t afford to get involved in yet another foreign country’s problems!

  3. Cennydd13 says:

    Ground his air force by enforcing a no-fly zone, and his ground troops lose their air support. Blockade his coastline, and the weapons stop coming ashore. The time to act is [b]now.[/b]

  4. Br. Michael says:

    Surely you wouldn’t want to go against the UN and the G8 which have refused to authorize such actions?

  5. Sarah says:

    RE: “Here is a dictator bombing and murdering people. . . ”

    PM, all around the world there are dictators bombing and murdering people. Are you saying that the US should now oppose all dictators who are murdering people? Because that’s 100 or more wars.

    Why must the US expend its blood and treasure to go tackle all the murdering thugs out there? There are too many for us to tackle. And we’re already in two wars.

    Let other countries go expend their blood and treasure in order to deal with the One Of Hundreds Thug.

  6. Br. Michael says:

    I mean Bush was vilified for doing exactly that. Obama was elected and is the European darling precisely because he is the anti-Bush. It seems to me that Europe got exactly the sort of US President they wanted.

    As for me, I still maintain that for a President to launch an aggressive war, not in response to any attack on us, the US Congress must declare war as required, and ignored since Korea, in the US Constitution. Only that declaration can insure the requisite domestic support and legitimacy.

    If the British and French and the Arab League want to proceed then they should do so. However time is short and getting shorter.

  7. Ad Orientem says:

    Re #4
    Sarah
    Well said. This is not our business. I am disturbed by the apparent belief that the United States is the world’s police force. We are not. We are fighting two wars (one of which is highly controversial to say the least) and we are bankrupt. I also find it interesting that so many of the same people on this forum who regularly cry out for a return to “constitutional” government seem to have little interest in respecting the authority of Congress (Art I sec 8) which has the sole authority to declare war.

    There is nothing whatever going on in Libya that is worth the life of a single American serviceman. We need to mind our own business for a change.

  8. Sarah says:

    RE: “I also find it interesting that so many of the same people on this forum who regularly cry out for a return to “constitutional” government seem to have little interest in respecting the authority of Congress (Art I sec 8) which has the sole authority to declare war.”

    I’m one of the people who would like for our officials to follow their sworn oath to uphold the Constitution and its limited powers to the Federal government — and I want congressional declared wars because of that.

  9. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    Public Announcement:

    The President has finally come to a firm decision. As crises mount around the world, from devastation of a close ally by earthquake and tsunami to civil wars in critical oil producing nations, our president is demonstrating his leadership skills.

    President Obama has focused like a laserbeam and made known his NCAA picks and is now taking his family to Rio de Janeiro for a working vacation in which he will concentrate on business relations between the US and our Brazilian trading partner. (This writer notes that Brazil is the largest trading partner of Florida…a key state in presidential elections.)

  10. Br. Michael says:

    And that is why I am so insistent about it. We have gotten ourselves into the unfortunate situation of supporting the wars a particular President gets us into, on a partisan basis. This needs to end and the way to do this is to return to the Constitution and require a declaration of war. We should have learned this from Vietnam.

  11. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    The UK, France and the Arab League [on whose behalf Lebanon as its representative have lodged a draft UN resolution] are unlikely to act without a UN resolution. But at the moment as Washington shilly-shallies, not only is the US not supporting a no-fly zone itself, it is blocking others from getting a resolution to allow them to act.

    No one is asking the US to declare war, put in ground troops or any of the other ridiculous things being said to back up American inaction and indecisiveness.

    Hopefully the UN considering this draft resolution will come up with something, but it is increasingly looking as if the legacy of of Obama and the US in 2011 will be the Massacre of Benghasi as it will come to be known.

    We can all do better than this. It is sad to see the US lose confidence in everything it has stood for.

  12. Billy says:

    #9 – I believe you are correct in you “implication.” As I heard a radio talk show host say this morning, Mr. Obama is no longer the Prez, as his first term has ended. From now until Nov 2012, he is just another candidate (with tremendous power and resources) to become POTUS for a second term. He will do nothing that is not beneficial to his re-election. If anything happens to coincide with the good of our country, then it will be a coincidence only.

  13. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    I agree that we must follow the constitution. Since Korea, we have engaged in wars without declarations of war. The office of the president is becoming more “imperial” and it does so at great hazard to our republic. Further, our participation in these undeclared wars renders our service members (of which I was one) to be war criminals because they are engaging in acts of war without a declaration of war. As far as I am concerned, we should recall our troops to the US…all of our troops…as soon as can be done, and use our military for what it was designed for; the defense of the United States of America. Let these other nations conduct their own wars.

  14. Br. Michael says:

    “American inaction and indecisiveness.” I object. It hasn’t put Obama off his golf at all!

  15. Milton Finch says:

    It’s about oil…not freedom. If we do anything about the dictator in Libya then we are ablidged to do something about the king of Saudi Arabia when he does away with his detractors. If we don’t do anything to Libya, we have that do-nothing-policy to fall back on when we don’t do anything to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia kicks its’ demonstrators tails down into submission and oil stays the same. American SUV owners are happy, and the world turns to see another day. Oil=manna=that is the god of this world.

  16. Sarah says:

    RE: “The UK, France and the Arab League [on whose behalf Lebanon as its representative have lodged a draft UN resolution] are unlikely to act without a UN resolution. But at the moment as Washington shilly-shallies, not only is the US not supporting a no-fly zone itself, it is blocking others from getting a resolution to allow them to act.”

    The US is not blocking others from getting a resolution allowing them to act. Others are more than able to “get a resolution” if they like [of course, — as we all discovered several years ago — the UN is *made* for no action, but that’s not the point].

    RE: “No one is asking the US to declare war, put in ground troops or any of the other ridiculous things being said to back up American inaction and indecisiveness.”

    Right — you’re asking us to help enforce a military no-fly zone, which merely *leads to* armed conflict, which would be another word for “war.”

    We don’t need to do that. There is no need to expend American blood and treasure on matters that do not pertain to defending the US.

    RE: “Further, our participation in these undeclared wars renders our service members (of which I was one) to be war criminals because they are engaging in acts of war without a declaration of war.”

    Nonsense. That is *not* the definition of a “war criminal.”

    RE: ” . . . use our military for what it was designed for; the defense of the United States of America.”

    We are already doing that just fine. You may disagree, of course, that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are about defending American from Islamic terrorists. I don’t.

    But none of that has anything remotely to do with trampling into countries that are ruled by murdering thugs and dealing with each and every one of them. We don’t need to deal with the hundreds of murdering thugs out there that murder their own people.

  17. JustOneVoice says:

    I’m not so clear on the checks and balances on the use of military force. The question I have is, is it necessary for the congress to declare war in order for the president to use military force? If so, what portions of the Constitution say this. It was my understanding that as Commander in Chief, the President could direct our military where he wanted. This was done so that we could respond quickly to threats. War by committee (Congress) is not practical. To provide checks and balances, the Congress has the ability formally declare war and, (in my opinion) more importantly, cut off funding or impeach the President. The War Powers Act seemed to confirm this, it recognized that the President could act on his own, but put a 90 day limit on how long the President could act without the declaration of war. Of course Congress has ignored this 90 day limit by continuing to fund undeclared wars beyond the 90 days.

  18. Clueless says:

    “The UK, France and the Arab League [on whose behalf Lebanon as its representative have lodged a draft UN resolution] are unlikely to act without a UN resolution. But at the moment as Washington shilly-shallies, not only is the US not supporting a no-fly zone itself, it is blocking others from getting a resolution to allow them to act.”

    If a no fly zone were to be put into effect, the ONLY power that could enforce it is the US. This is similar to the way we have been dragged into other wars. If Europe wishes a no-fly zone, nobody is preventing them from coming up with resources to enforce it. Unfortunately that would require that they draft men and buy planes. They have chosen to keep their military weak, so they could expand social services under the safety of our shield. From this safety they have, for the past several decades, sneered at our lack of social services (which they consider a deficit in a “civilized society” and they have deprecated out “aggressiveness”.

    If Europe wishes to intervene, they may do so without our permission. It is they, not we, who are most dependant on Arab oil
    For our own part, I agree that all interventions that commit blood and treasure in foreign parts should be preceeded by authorization from the US Congress and the declaration of War.

  19. Milton Finch says:

    Comment 15 “manna” supposed to be mammon. sorry

  20. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #15 Milton
    [blockquote]If we do anything about the dictator in Libya then we are ablidged to do something about the king of Saudi Arabia[/blockquote]
    Well, of course you don’t have to do anything of the sort. There is a specific issue, which is whether the US will support the resolution brought forward in the UN which will enable countries to act to protect the Libyan people from being blasted by their ‘leader’. It is depressing reading the increasingly wild and convoluted excuses for inaction coming out of Washington.

    #16 Sarah
    [blockquote]The US is not blocking others from getting a resolution allowing them to act. [/blockquote]
    If the US does not use its vote to enable the UN Security Council to pass this resolution, then there will be no resolution, and other countries will be unable to take action.

    However, it sounds as if President Obama is just ignoring it all: Japan and Libya, and is off to Brazil on holiday. There is concerning information out today that he is not bothering to talk to his allies either.
    [blockquote]I suspect the real news of the day is that Cameron hasn’t spoken to Obama about Libya this week, despite Britain having laid down, along with France and Lebanon, a security council resolution it . This shows just how strained relations are between Downing Street and the White House.[/blockquote]
    Not good when our young people are dying in Afghanistan as well in support of US efforts – not good at all.

  21. Fradgan says:

    You’d expect that the rebels would find some comfort in our president’s March Madness choices and improved golf game. What do these people expect? What does the USA have to do with the shores of Tripoli?

  22. Ad Orientem says:

    Re #17
    JustOneVoice
    Read the Federalist Papers. It was the clear intention to remove from one person (as was the norm in Europe) the power to start wars. However it was always understood that the President as CnC had the authority to respond to any immediate threat. IOW if we are attacked or facing imminent attack then no, the President does not have to wait for Congress to declare war. But that exception was clearly limited to self defense. In any other matter war making powers were deliberately (and wisely IMHO) reserved to Congress. Note also that the Constitution reserved not only the power to declare war to Congress but also authority over captures on land and water, and the power to issue “letters of marque and reprisal” (an obsolete modus for waging commercial war on the high seas).

  23. Milton Finch says:

    PM, #20
    Watch how slowly America does anything in regards to Libya. I am sure assurances have been given that the powers that be in Saudi Arabia will remain in power no matter what. We did nothing in Egypt and nothing in any other place. Sure, we talked, but talk is cheap while looking like it means something. Bahrain, Libya, and Saudi Arabia will walk the walk of what will be. Oil will remain the same price, and all will be well.

  24. Sarah says:

    RE: “there will be no resolution, and other countries will be unable to take action. . . . ”

    Not sure I understand. So you’re saying that if the UN resolution does not pass other countries cannot “take action”?

    Heh.

    That’s the consequence of tethering a country’s action or inaction on the ridiculous notions of “UN resolutions” then.

    Quite a mistake. Hope somebody someday in the countries of Europe and the UK address that somehow.

  25. Ad Orientem says:

    What’s with the obsession over Zero’s sports interests? I don’t recall any of the same people who apparently feel he has abandoned the country to ruin to watch a ballgame huffing and puffing while W spent more time on vacation than any president in the history of the Republic, all while fighting two wars, one of which he started.

  26. Sarah says:

    The other note about the uninvolvement of Obama is a separate matter. Of course he’s disinterested in these sorts of things and a whole lot of other things too. From my perspective, I’ve thought he was bored by the whole idea of being president for quite some time now, other than as a means to help create a larger collectivist State in the US.

    But you know, meetings and spreadsheets and conference calls — all the mundanity of being in a job — can get rather dull after the first few weeks.

  27. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    “However, it sounds as if President Obama is just ignoring it all: Japan and Libya, and is off to Brazil on holiday. There is concerning information out today that he is not bothering to talk to his allies either”.

    Based on what little I can read in the middle of a busy life, this is the usual M.O. I knew a long time ago that this guy in office would be a huge problem, and it is.

    Not to mention, if we can’t communicate well with Downing Street, who can we communicate well with? :-/

  28. Ad Orientem says:

    Any nation that wants to intervene can. There is no need for a “resolution” from anybody. The UN is NOT a sovereign entity. Nations are sovereign. All that they are obliged to do under international law is to declare war. A minor but rather important point lost on some of the interventionist crowd.

    A quick reminder… After World War II we hanged more than a few war criminals on various charges, among which was attacking other nations without first declaring war.

  29. Fradgan says:

    #25
    Selective memories are convenient tools. President Bush was regularly attacked for playing golf while the fatalities in Iraq rose (and were reported) daily. Somehow, daily death counts from the media have disappeared during this administration.

  30. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #24 Sarah
    [blockquote]Not sure I understand. So you’re saying that if the UN resolution does not pass other countries cannot “take action”?[/blockquote]
    It is quite simple, if the US which is a permanent member of the Security Council votes against or abstains in the resolution now before it, it reduces the chance of it getting through, whether the US commits to action to support it militarily or not. If the resolution goes through then it means that those countries who will support military action can take action.

    That is why the US vote matters
    [blockquote]That’s the consequence of tethering a country’s action or inaction on the ridiculous notions of “UN resolutions” then.

    Quite a mistake. Hope somebody someday in the countries of Europe and the UK address that somehow.[/blockquote]
    Whatever one thinks about the effectiveness of the UN as a body, the international legal framework in which it operates and to which the US is a signatory, is the only thing holding countries back from just invading their neighbors and provides a framework for an international response when when they do. This has enabled some good things to happen, including responding to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the restoration of peace in Sierra Leone [led by the UK], sorting out Bosnia, and helping restore legitimate government in East Timor [led by the Australians]. There are many good things that the UN and its Security Council are able to do; it is not all bad, and the system of international law under which it operates does on balance act as a force for peace and order in a dangerous world and make it safer.

    As to the internal issues of how decisions are made within the US on foreign military action and the needs for declarations of war before the legislature can exercise any control over the executive, I do not know enough and it would be inappropriate for me to comment. That is a US internal governance issue. In the UK making war or taking military action is done under the Royal Prerogative by the UK government, but it is both referred to and debated by the UK Parliament as soon as possible. In consequence, in general opposition parties are kept informed and usually give united public support to the action our troops have been engaged in.

  31. Sarah says:

    RE: “while W spent more time on vacation than any president in the history of the Republic”

    Well — except that he didn’t.

    But other than that small problem with fact, I’m perfectly happy that Obama is engaging in his sports interests. I see no problem with it.

    Of course, I see all sorts of problems with his ideology. But that’s no change from before his election anyway. He has done precisely what I expected, and lived into my beliefs about his beliefs and values.

    No surprises and I do think there should be far less “surprise” and complaining about his doing what he believes and what he clearly stated he believed during the election.

  32. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #30 further to that, the opposition in the UK Parliament has been consulted about and is also publicly supporting the UK Government’s approach to Libya and the draft UN Security Council resolution it is backing. The UN debate continues. What is the official attitude of the United States? No one seems to know.

  33. Sarah says:

    RE: “the international legal framework in which it operates and to which the US is a signatory, is the only thing holding countries back from just invading their neighbors . . . ”

    Good grief, PM — how on earth can you possibly look at the last 50 years and imagine that the UN does anything at all that “holds countries back from just invading their neighbors”???

    RE: “This has enabled some good things to happen, including responding to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the restoration of peace in Sierra Leone [led by the UK], sorting out Bosnia, and helping restore legitimate government in East Timor [led by the Australians].”

    All of those things could have been done far better and faster *without* the UN, which is a thunderingly incompetent and corrupt institution that should be plowed under and sown with salt.

    Nevertheless, regardless of the particular perspectives on the UN, the UK and the countries of Europe are perfectly capable of helping the Libyan rebels without the UN releasing some sort of resolution.

  34. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #33 Sarah
    The UK and France will not act without a UN resolution or being sure that any action is covered by one of the existing general authorities provided by the UN to for example prevent genocide.

    You may remember that it was on British insistence that the US joined in obtaining a UN resolution which enabled action to be taken in Iraq. We believe in the rule of law both internally and in our external relations, and if we have committed to international laws and treaties we will observe them.

    The other way does permit short term action to be taken for perceived immediate need, but does create longer term problems if others just take the same attitude. International relations are not quite the free for all some think they are.

    That is not to say that the UN itself is not often fairly seen as a thunderingly incompetent and corrupt institution. I think one has to distinguish between the legal environment of international law in which the UN operates and the institution of the UN itself and how it operates. The answer is to fix or replace it, not just give up on any sort of international legal framework and just do whatever you like as that is more likely to lead to invasion and war.

    Why does this matter? Because we are interdependent in the modern world in trade and access to resources. Some way needs to be found to ensure that one or two mavericks cannot disrupt international trade, peace and prosperity.

    However much one would like to just pull up the draw-bridge and just do one’s own thing, international events do affect us all [just look at the financial chaos precipitated by events in Japan]. But isolationalism seems to continue to operate in the US not far below the surface.

  35. Br. Michael says:

    “You may remember that it was on British insistence that the US joined in obtaining a UN resolution which enabled action to be taken in Iraq. We believe in the rule of law both internally and in our external relations, and if we have committed to international laws and treaties we will observe them.”

    Well then you just need to round up the votes. I understand that Germany, Russia and China are also opposed. But then Gaddafi would cut off their oil. But they wouldn’t stop UN action to prevent the slaughter of a nation’s citizens or peace treaty violations for the sake of oil or their commercial interests would they? Oh yes, their support for Saddam Hussein.

  36. Caedmon says:

    Mark Johnson at #2.

    And when Jim Webb speaks, people need to listen.

  37. Larry Morse says:

    The real trouble is that in Egypt we made an issue, a big issue, of our support for the people to choose freely its own rulers and we touted our belief in human rights. Obama has therefore put his hat in the ring – read our – unless his talk is nothing but air. Now we come to a “put you money where you mouth is” moment, and we are all qualification, divigation, hesitation, talk and talk and talk. Our words have become empty, mere formalisms. No boots on the ground? Ok, but risk NOTHING because we cannot stand risk. The world watches and we fight in Afghanistan and shed blood, but risk neither blood nor money in Libya? Obama now looks weak and unprincipled, and US a fat cat who is not willing to risk missing a meal. This is NOT Mogadishju.
    (Would risk my neck to help create a no-fly zone? Is this a bad way to die?) Larry

  38. Fradgan says:

    #37
    When Jim Webb speaks, it’s important to remind oneself that a politician is speaking.

  39. Caedmon says:

    # 39. What do you know about Sen. Webb, exactly?

  40. Cennydd13 says:

    18. I don’t agree that the U.S. is the only power who could enforce a no-fly zone. Both Britain and France currently have the airpower with which to do the job, and so do Spain and Italy. Britain, Spain, Italy and France have carrier-based aircraft and the ability to use them.

    The Med is a relatively small area, and their fleets are certainly within close range of Libya. All they need is the will to use them…..the lack of a UN resolution notwithstanding. More Libyans will die at the hands of Gadafi and his thugs if they don’t.

    I served our country for nearly half of my adult life, and I’m sick and tired of other countries expecting [b]US[/b] to be the world’s policemen. Why should we have to expend [b]OUR[/b] lives and national treasure? I think it’s time for other countries to ante up and take charge, for a change!

  41. Sarah says:

    RE: “The world watches and we fight in Afghanistan and shed blood, but risk neither blood nor money in Libya?”

    Yes — and that is completely consistent. The only reason to intervene in Libya is “look at the mean brutal murdering thug” — which would mean multiple interventions with multiple mean brutal murdering thugs. Whereas intervention in Afghanistan has to do with defending the US.

  42. BlueOntario says:

    I really doubt that the US would stand in the way of French or British intervention in the situation in Libya. The real question is why the world is drumming on the US when there are two permanent member countries in the Security Council, Russia and China, that are much more likely to throw down their vetos on any suggestion of action?

    It wouldn’t be because of Russian natural gas and China’s trade and investments, and the US’s place as a perennial target when we act and when we don’t, would it? Nah.

  43. Old Guy says:

    This is the same Washington Post that opposed President Bush’s surge in Iraq in 2007.

    “It envisions new missions and dangers for U.S. troops and counts on unprecedented military and political steps by the Iraqi government. The plan is likely to cause a spike in U.S. casualties, while the chances that it will stabilize Iraq are far lower. Moreover, Mr. Bush appears prepared to embrace this approach despite strong opposition from Congress and the public — setting up a conflict that in itself could hurt the war effort.”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/10/AR2007011002603.html

    Seems like the same logic could apply to the proposed No Fly Zone, with the difference now being that President Bush tried to stablize one of two ongoing wars, while the Washington Post wants to start a third.

  44. Larry Morse says:

    No, Sarah, that is NOT the only reason to intervene in Libya, nor the most important. Obama has made it clear on whose side we stand, and what we stand for. He has made it clear the MG MUST go.
    Well, what then? Do we mean what we say, or not? so, Sarah, do we?
    If we mean what we say, what then? Nothing? And if our words are meaningless re GD, then all the more reason for the other Arab despotic families to use whatever force they choose because the world’s biggest democracy is, as far as Moslem despots are now concerned, toothless. And this – empowering the Moslem despots – has nothing to do with defending our national interests? Do you really think that al Quaeda would not like to find a new home? Do you really think that MG does NOT support terrorists?
    Remember: If France had not virtually gone bankrupt for the ragtag insurgents in the US, we would never have won the Revolutionary War, and we would be speaking English instead of brainless advertising, electronic psychobabble. Would you want THAT? larry

  45. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #42 Sarah
    [blockquote]The only reason to intervene in Libya is “look at the mean brutal murdering thug”—which would mean multiple interventions with multiple mean brutal murdering thugs. Whereas intervention in Afghanistan has to do with defending the US.[/blockquote]
    Consider: In an East Coast city members of the Tea Party protest against Obamacare proposals and at the same time Sarah, Br. Michael and Caedmon join a march near Pennsylvania Avenue to protest the US involvement in a Libyan no fly zone. President Obama confines US troops and police who he does not trust to barracks and instead recruits Canadian and Mexican ex-cons who he arms and provides with trucks and they arrive at the protests and they open fire with live rounds killing protesters. Sarah, Br Michael and others retreat home.

    Washington cleaning department workers promptly remove the bodies and wash down the streets before foreign journalists are bused in to be greeted by a crowd of cheering Obama supporters. Meanwhile, on returning home, the protesters who have been photographed at the march by plain-clothes police are gradually picked up by Democratic Party workers and taken away. Families search for their missing members for the following weeks but there is no trace of them – they have just disappeared.

    In the East Coast City, the Tea Party members are supported by the State Government who refuse to hand over the protesters to the Democratic Party. Obama responds by calling the protesters rats and cockroaches working for foreign terrorists. US Airforce bombing runs are ordered by Obama on the East Coast city, but many airmen refuse to carry out this order and are tied up and shot in response by the Democratic Party.

    There is international outrage as Sarah and other bloggers tell the outside world what is happening: the French protest, and propose a United Nations resolution to indict Obama for crimes against humanity and call for international action. In London, we do not know what to do – the US has no oil that we need and we do not see that we are the world’s policemen. We do not consider that Americans are capable of democratic government without unseemly protesting, and it is none of our business anyway, and that is what we tell the United Nations.

    What should we do? The world is full of brutal murdering thugs. Why are the French and the International Community getting so upset with us? Why does everyone else not understand our need to look after ourselves and how reasonable and rational we are being? It is just not fair.

  46. Caedmon says:

    Nice try, Pageantmaster, but had I been in that East Coast City that day I would have tried to attend both the Tea Party rally and the antiwar one.

    I take it you haven’t read much from conservative writers such as Andrew Bacevich.

  47. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #47 Caedmon
    Thanks but I had not heard of Andrew Bacevich, or any of the other American thinkers you mention. However I have just looked him up on Wikipedia as I am always interested to learn about how things are perceived in the US. It is interesting that even in the world of blogs our perception of things can be completely different. To me much of the critique of US foreign policy and the motives of Europeans in terms of oil come straight out of the left wing American movement you saw in ‘The Greening of America’, and yet it is now coming out of what appears to be the American right and mainstream. To be honest, if Britain and France were looking to their economic and oil advantage in all this we would be backing Gaddaffi. Instead, we seem to be acting in a curiously principled way because we are genuinely shocked at the murder and mayhem Gaddaffi has unleashed and distress for the people he is attacking. I think this is probably why the rest of the world including the Arab region are up in arms about it, and why the response of the US has just made us perplexed in the extreme. But it is helpful to understand the background to the debate which is informing some of the US shilly-shallying, even as we deplore it and as it seems completely at odds with all the US has ever stood for.

  48. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Incidentally, the reports coming out of the Security Council meeting adjourned until tomorrow suggest the US is taking a much more constructive approach to this resolution than we have previously seen. Perhaps Mrs Clinton received a reality check from her trip to and reception in Cairo.

  49. Milton Finch says:

    PM,
    I refer you back to post 15.

  50. Mitchell says:

    Pageantmaster, at #46 you propose and interesting hypothetical and ask “What should we do?”
    Let me give you a little insight into how Americans think. You should do absolutely nothing. Americans disagree a lot of the time about a lot of things. But the vast majority of us agree on one thing. If you attempt to send your army, your air force, or your navy into our country; we will collectively send them back to you in a state of significant disrepair; and once we have fully eliminated you as a threat to our nation we will return to the resolution of our own internal affairs.
    Now do you see the problem?

  51. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    There is a constructive report of the UN Briefing today:
    [blockquote]BAN KI-MOON GRAVELY CONCERNED AT MILITARY ESCALATION IN LIBYA; U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY COMPLETES VISIT

    The Secretary-General has remained closely abreast of the situation in Libya and the critical discussions underway in the Security Council over measures aimed at protecting civilians. He spoke by phone late Tuesday evening with Libya’s Foreign Minister.

    The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Abdul Ilah Khatib, has departed Libya today with his delegation after two days of discussions in which he conveyed to senior Libyan officials the strong calls by the international community to cease the fighting and the violence, to ensure humanitarian access and to work toward a peaceful solution of the crisis.

    The Special Envoy stressed the need for a firm and unambiguous commitment on the part of the Libyan government to cease hostilities immediately. The Special Envoy’s efforts continue, including contacts with representatives of Libyan political groups in Benghazi, as well as with the authorities in Tripoli.

    The Secretary-General is gravely concerned about the increasing military escalation by Government forces, which include indications of an assault on the city of Benghazi. A campaign to bombard such an urban center would massively place civilian lives at risk. The Secretary-General is urging all parties in this conflict to accept an immediate cease fire and to abide by Security Council Resolution 1970. Those responsible for the continuous use of military forces against civilians will be held accountable.

    In response to further questions, the Spokesperson said that Mr. Khatib has left Libya following two days of talks there. Mr. Khatib put across the Secretary-General’s message on the need for an end to the fighting and for humanitarian access, in no uncertain terms.[/blockquote]
    Ban Kee Moon has proved much more principled and constructive than his predecessor. Meanwhile there have been more threats to Benghazi from Gaddaffi.

    #50 Milton Finch – thank you

    #51 Mitchell
    Well, from my limited knowledge of US history, that is not exactly what happened the last time we tried it in 1814 is it ? But no matter as we are now the best of friends.

  52. Ad Orientem says:

    Re 46
    PM,
    Setting aside your leap into the realm of paranoid fantasy; why are you not calling for the invasion of N. Korea? Surely that is a far more odious government than Khadaffi on his worst day. What about China?

    You can throw out all of the “what if” nightmare scenarios but you have not come even close to explaining why this is any of our business. We have no reason whatever to go into Libya. It is not an American colony or protectorate. Nor can we legally invade another country (yes a “no fly zone” is an invasion) without a declaration of war.

    I see no substantive difference between this and the “white man’s burden” used to justify all of Europe’s empire building and meddling in everyone else’s affairs in the 19th century. Same theme slightly repackaged. This neo-imperialism is both illegal and dangerous.

  53. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Here, according to Reuters, are the threats Gaddaffi is making against Benghazi:
    [blockquote]A text on the screen of Al-Libya television addressed people in the eastern city, saying the army was coming “to support you and to cleanse your city from armed gangs.”

    “It urges you to keep out by midnight of areas where the armed men and weapon storage areas are located,” it said.

    Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on Lebanon’s LBC TV he did not expect a battle in Benghazi, seat of the insurgents’ provisional national council, because Libyan people have been helping get rid of “al Qaeda” elements there.

    One of Gaddafi’s sons, Saif al-Islam, had told Euronews TV on Wednesday morning that Libya’s second largest city would fall whether or not the international community agreed to impose a no-fly zone. “Everything will be over in 48 hours,” he said.[/blockquote]

    #53 AO – reading some of your comments on this topic over the last few days including your repackaged “white man’s burden” puts me more in mind of “paranoid fantasies” that my admittedly mischievous spoof in #46.

    As you know the North Korean threat means the US has been involved and remains involved in the Korean Peninsular. Again the talk of legal invasions, declarations of war and neo imperialism is all really beside the point when talking of concerted international peace-keeping action organised under United Nations auspices to prevent murder of populations. This is no different to any of the other UN interventions there have been in the Middle East, East Timor, Cyprus, Bosnia, and so on. Any military action is dangerous, but probably less dangerous and involving less loss of life than the genocide which will be unleashed in Eastern Libya if nothing is done, and the future threat to the region and world’s stability. If undertaken under UN mandate, there is nothing ‘illegal’ about such action.

    I admit I have found it puzzling reading how upon principle you think it is your duty to prevent Anglicans from remaining in their church for the sake of their souls, when you seem at the same time to be prepared to turn a blind eye to the loss of countless bodies to torture and genocide – there is a conundrum indeed I have not got my head around.

  54. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    I can’t vouch for their accuracy, and they seem a bit left-wing/radical but for up to date information not found elsewhere this site seems to have collected some information from the UN negotiations; and this site on the Libya situation as an aggregator, but with a particular bias. More reliable perhaps are Reuters and the BBC but the MSM seem to be playing catch-up, things are moving so fast.

    Prayers for Benghazi and safety for the Libyans. May Gaddaffi be turned from his murderous intent.

  55. carl says:

    The US Constitution intentionally contains ambiguity in terms of committing military forces to war. The President is the CinC and he has the right to issue orders that result in combat. The military is bound on oath to obey those orders. It can’t say “Stop! I have to check with Congress first.” Congress has the power to declare war, but there is no constitutional definition of what that actually means in practice. The power of command is unambiguous. The power to declare war provides at best ambiguous theoretical restraint on the President’s power of Command, and no practical restraint at all.

    In practice, Congress would have to defend the power to declare war by impeaching a President who committed acts it considered unconstitutional. This conflict will never be resolved through the courts because the Supreme Court will not issue an edict simply to have the President ignore it. The Court can only lose prestige in such a matter. So long as Congress won’t defend the right to declare war, the President will keep acting in accordance with his explicit right of command.

    carl

  56. carl says:

    Pageantmaster

    The UN confers no “legality” onto military action. A sovereign nation may at its discretion appeal to force of arms to enforce its interests. The ability of the UN to manage conflicts is really a function of the interests of the major powers. If you are (say) Sadaam Hussein and you threaten the interests of the major powers by invading Kuwait, then you will pay the price. If you are a major power, you will do what you want, and ignore the UN. If you are the leader of a unimportant country in an unimportant part of the world (to the major powers), then you will not suffer intervention. The major powers are not interested in being an international police force.

    It does not escape my attention that it is the Europeans who are keen to intervene in Libya. After all, Libya is so close to Europe. I doubt the ability of the European militarys to impose these sanctions, and I wonder if humanitarian concerns are being used in an attempt to bludgeon the US into an action that is fundamentally rooted in European interests.

    carl

  57. Ad Orientem says:

    Re # 56
    Carl
    There is nothing ambiguous about a declaration of war. It is very clearly defined in international law and diplomacy. Further there was nothing ambiguous about it at the time the constitution was ratified. Again I refer you to the Federalist Papers.

    The framers had a very clear intent to remove from one person the power to start wars, ala Europe’s various monarchs of the era. Your interpretation strips Congress of any meaningful authority and establishes a presidency that the framers were explicitly attempting to avoid.

    Re # 54
    PM
    [blockquote] As you know the North Korean threat means the US has been involved and remains involved in the Korean Peninsular.[/blockquote]

    So should we invade? As I said before N Korea is certainly a far more repressive regime than Libya’s.

    [blockquote] Again the talk of legal invasions, declarations of war and neo imperialism is all really beside the point[/blockquote]

    Actually it is the point.

    [blockquote] If undertaken under UN mandate, there is nothing ‘illegal’ about such action.[/blockquote]

    I beg to differ. I am not aware of any nation surrendering its sovereignty to the UN. Do you see the whole world as some sort of collective entity with the UN as a supernational government? The UN has no right to invade sovereign countries. It’s charter is limited to repelling aggression against member states. Your view seems to reduce the whole world to the status of a UN colony.

    This sort of approach is antithetical to the US Constitution.

  58. carl says:

    58. Ad Orientem

    I wasn’t offering an interpretation. I was stating how things work in practice. You can if you like wave the Federalist papers in front of the president, and demand he behave accordingly. What are you going to do when he ignores you? Because he will ignore you. The military is not governed by the Federalist papers or the definition of ‘Declaration of War’ used in 1787. It’s governed by the UCMJ. The President is the CinC. He can give lawful orders. A member of the military is bound to obey lawful orders.

    How serious is this? My job in the military was to commit nuclear weapons. That order was virtually guaranteed to NOT be preceded by a Declaration of War. I was required to commit my sorties within a specific time limit, and that time limit did not allow for me to call congress and check. Are you going to tell me the President doedn’t have the right to issue that order? Should I have refused on Constitutional principles? If the president has the authority to commit the country to nuclear war (and he does), then my case is made.

    This is why impeachment is the only effective restraint on the President. That’s also why the power cannot be effectively restrained. Congress does not have the will to restrict the ability of the President to respond to emergencies, and impeachment to defend the right to declare war would likely do that. The practical reality is that the power of command means the President can order men into harm’s way. You may not like that, but that is the reality.

    carl

  59. Sarah says:

    RE: “What should we do?”

    Nothing.

    RE: “The world is full of brutal murdering thugs.”

    Agreed — no need to expend blood and treasure on one murdering thug when there are hundreds more.

    RE: “Why are the French and the International Community getting so upset with us?”

    Oh that’s easy. Because they want the US to expend blood and treasure when it serves *their* self-interest, but not our own.

    RE: “Why does everyone else not understand our need to look after ourselves and how reasonable and rational we are being?”

    Again — that’s easy. They want us to serve their interests.

    RE: “It is just not fair.”

    That’s okay — we can take it. We just need to do the right thing. Which is not put the lives of our men in danger merely to make Europe happy or to rid the world of one of hundreds of murdering thugs.

    RE: “He has made it clear the MG MUST go. Well, what then? Do we mean what we say, or not? so, Sarah, do we?”

    Huh? Obama said nothing about getting rid of Quadafi. Opining that you think a leader should step down has nothing whatsoever to do with enforcing a no-fly zone over a country. There’s not a connection.

    RE: “it seems completely at odds with all the US has ever stood for.”

    Not at all. In fact, the US has a long and rich tradition of not intruding into a country’s internal issues. There’s certainly no stance that means that the US must go and rid countries of murdering thugs.

    RE: “Again the talk of legal invasions, declarations of war and neo imperialism is all really beside the point when talking of concerted international peace-keeping action organised under United Nations auspices to prevent murder of populations.. . . If undertaken under UN mandate, there is nothing ‘illegal’ about such action.”

    It’s not at all beside the point for Americans to discuss the fact that the Constitution requires declarations of war on countries before engaging in military action. The UN has no jurisdiction in our country nor do its edicts or resolutions have supercedence over our country’s Constitution. The UN’s declaration that something is not “illegal” does not make it so for particular countries.

  60. Intercessor says:
    To Whom??? Intercessor

  61. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #57 carl
    [blockquote]The UN confers no “legality” onto military action.[/blockquote]
    Well, under International Law, the UN can confer authority to take military action, and indeed to invade. With UN agreement that means that other countries will not intervene. That is indeed the difference between on the one hand the illegal Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia both of which were condemned by and legal authority to take action was granted by the United Nations; and on the other hand the legal interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan by coalition forces under UN mandates.

    On the other hand, in support of what you say, the UN had little impact in the Russian action in Chechnya which Russia claimed was an internal matter, but UN condemnation may well have led to the Russian withdrawal after their invasion of Georgia which was certainly an illegal invasion of an independant country recognised by the UN. The reality is the major powers do indeed take notice of the UN position.
    [blockquote]It does not escape my attention that it is the Europeans who are keen to intervene in Libya. After all, Libya is so close to Europe.[/blockquote]
    Well as you have seen Europe is by no means united. Nato is keen that there should be Arab ownership of any action undertaken, but now there are indications that at least four and possibly five Arab states ready to contribute to military action. As you also can see both Germany and Italy remain unconvinced. When it comes down to it this is what ‘European Unity’ often amounts to.

    You are certainly right that Libya is as sensitive to the underbelly of Europe as Cuba is to the United States. In many ways intervention could mean unknown risks for us all from a pariah state, but on the other hand non-intervention is likely to mean not only massacres, but massive migration into Southern Europe from fleeing Libyans. It is a bit of a Hobson’s Choice.
    [blockquote]I doubt the ability of the European militarys to impose these sanctions[/blockquote]
    Both the UK and France have naval forces in the Mediterranean and access to airstrips on carriers and British bases in Cyprus and Gibraltar and possible access to ones in Malta. France has Corsica, but Italy would be a helpful point. It is not clear if Egypt and Tunisia would be prepared to assist, particularly with Arab aircraft. Both Britain and France have AWACs capability, although recent cuts have certainly affected the UK’s position, but we still spend as much per capita on defence as the US does. France also maintains a substantial military ability and has much experience and bases in North Africa. Where the British in particular may have problems is in providing in air refuelling to its fighters if on extended missions and also in access to the sophisticated unmanned drones so useful to US forces in the Middle East. We have good special forces and expertise in inserting laser guidance spotters, but may find bombing or taking out anti-aircraft positions and military airfields a problem. I am not sure what the French capability is in these areas.
    [blockquote]I wonder if humanitarian concerns are being used in an attempt to bludgeon the US into an action that is fundamentally rooted in European interests[/blockquote]
    That is certainly a cynical viewpoint I can understand you having, but as I have said above, European interests lie in Gaddaffi winning in terms of short-term economic advantage, but I think in this we are actually acting on principle for humanitarian reasons. You can see this if you think about our participation with the US in both Iraq wars, and in Afghanistan, as we long ago withdrew from considering matters East of Suez as within the remit of our foreign policy. In those cases we acted in support of UN and US action based on removing an invader from Kuwait, and in support of the war on terror.

    I think our actions are better [at least in the case of the UK] explained in terms of international responsibility to prevent wrong such as invasion, rather than self-interest, and both sets of interventions have cost us dearly in terms of both money and the lives of our young people, as well as making us something of a terrorist target.

  62. JustOneVoice says:

    60. Sarah wrote:
    [blockquote] It’s not at all beside the point for Americans to discuss the fact that the Constitution requires declarations of war on countries before engaging in military action. [/blockquote]
    Where in the Constitution does it say that a declaration of war is required before engaging in military action? It does not. As carl pointed out earlier, the President does not need to ask Congress before engaging in military action. It seems the only powers Congress has to check the President is to withhold funding or impeach. It seems like having the sole power to declare war is purely symolic or a potential piece of evidence in a impeachment.

  63. carl says:

    60. Sarah [blockquote] the fact that the Constitution requires declarations of war on countries before engaging in military action. [/blockquote] Technically, the Constitution simply grants Congress the power to declare war. It does not require such a declaration for any military action. Nor does it define the level of military action that would require a declaration of war. President Bush would have exercised lawful authority to order the invasion of Iraq in 2003 even if Congress had disagreed. If Congress wants to define this kind of action as unconstitutional, it has to act. The Constitutional remedy is impeachment.

    carl

  64. JustOneVoice says:

    I reviewed the Constitution and found another Power of Congress (Section 8):

    [blockquote] To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;[/blockquote]

    It seems that Congress could create a rule requiring land and naval Forces to have a Declaration of War before doing specific things. But Congress has chosen not to create this rule. As much as the founding fathers did not want a king, they as realized the military needs to be led by an individual, not a committee. Congress has three ways to stop a President from taking military action:

    1) Funding
    2) Impeachment
    3) To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

    I would not include the sole power to declare war as a way of preventing the President from taking military action.

  65. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #58 AO and #60 Sarah
    Both of you argue from a position that the only laws in existence are those internal to nation states. This is to ignore the development of international law over the last 150 years and which accelerated after the second world war. Like the development of the United Nations the US was in the forefront of this development of International Law. These international treaties cover everything from the international financial situation and regulation: from Bretton Woods to the development of GATT; the developing law of the Sea and principles of settling disputes over everything from offshore territorial boundaries, seabed mineral disputes, oil reserve ownership, fishing rights, pollution including that from oil and hazardous chemicals. International law also includes treaty commitments to for example NATO, the UN, conventions on war, treatment of prisoners of war, cooperation in space, telecommunications regulation, and so on.

    Both of you argue as though there were nothing beyond the borders of the US in terms of legality: no treaties, no international cooperation, no bodies like GATT and the International Maritime Organisation or the International Telecommunication Union, and no system of international law like that developed firstly by the League of Nations, and after WWII by the United Nations, which has affected everything from the creation of the state of Israel, to the setting up of the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal.

    That is not to affect all you say about the internal processes for authorising military committment and action within the US under its constitution and indeed its participation which is a matter only for the United States. It is interesting to hear the position of so many Americans for whom perhaps without realising it, isolationism is the default position, and perhaps understandably so given your history and challenges.

  66. carl says:

    Pageantmaster

    Law requires an enforcement mechanism. Who enforces international law? What you are really describing are conventions that serve the interests of nations. Let’s take the Falklands as an example. If the Falklands had been part of Denmark instead of Great Britain, it would currently be the property of Argentina. If Margaret Thatcher had not been PM at the time, I wonder if the Falklands would not presently be part of Argentina. The reality is that no other major power would have reversed that invasion, and the world would have long since accepted the outcome – international law or not.

    Also, resistance to intervention in Libya does not equate to isolationism. It simply means that we do not consider the US military to be an international law enforcement agency. The 2003 Iraq War was essential to American security. Libya simply isn’t.

    carl

  67. JustOneVoice says:

    [blockquote] It is interesting to hear the position of so many Americans for whom perhaps without realising it, isolationism is the default position, and perhaps understandably so given your history and challenges. [/blockquote]
    There is a difference between isolationism and practicallity. If the default position was isolationalism, we would withdrawal all our troops to the U.S. What you are hearing is not isolationalism, but practicallity. We are willing to spend our blood and treasure overseas, but we have to choose where and when. It seems like what you are hearing is that many believe that the situation in Libya does not rise to the level necessary to spend our blood and treasure. I’m undecided. However, I think our President should decide and make that decision known. I think it would be good if Europe led the military action, with forces and funding Arab countries. The U.S. could help provide non-combat support (air refueling, drones, intelligence, etc.) It would show that Europe is willing and able to take the lead in military action and show the rest of the world that it is not just the U.S. that can protect the interests of civilazation.

  68. Caedmon says:

    Ad Orientem at 53.

    Spot on.

  69. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #67 carl
    [blockquote]Law requires an enforcement mechanism. Who enforces international law? What you are really describing are conventions that serve the interests of nations.[/blockquote]
    That is certainly true – there has to be both the ability and the willingness to enforce action, and there are many resolutions on all sorts of subjects from Cuba to Iran on the UN resolutions roll which have no possibility of enforcement.
    [blockquote] Let’s take the Falklands as an example. If the Falklands had been part of Denmark instead of Great Britain, it would currently be the property of Argentina. [/blockquote]
    Well, consider a similar situation: someone had invaded Greenland, which is part of Denmark. I can’t imagine why anyone would, barring discovery of amazing mineral or oil reserves, but nevertheless I suspect that both a UN resolution and military action would be forthcoming.
    [blockquote]If Margaret Thatcher had not been PM at the time, I wonder if the Falklands would not presently be part of Argentina. The reality is that no other major power would have reversed that invasion, and the world would have long since accepted the outcome – international law or not.[/blockquote]
    Those of us with longer memories wonder if Margaret Thatcher had not been Prime Minister, and her government had not savagely cut back our defences including the retirement of HMS Endurance from patrol duties in the Falklands region whether the Argentine invasion would have taken place. But we will leave that on one side, much as we will on whether Britain, the US and France arming both Saddam Hussain and Muammar Gaddaffi to the teeth was in retrospect such a good idea. But we end up where we end up, and having to do the best we can in the situation we find ourselves in. However against your argument, there were no oil or other interests behind the enforcement action taken by the UN in East Timor, and in Sierra Leone, both of which UN members contributed to taking action over.
    [blockquote]Also, resistance to intervention in Libya does not equate to isolationism. It simply means that we do not consider the US military to be an international law enforcement agency. The 2003 Iraq War was essential to American security. Libya simply isn’t.[/blockquote]
    I certainly think it is right to ask the Arab and perhaps the African nations to contribute to any UN action in Libya as well as European nations, but as for Libya not being essential to American security, how easily you all forget Lockerbie and the fact that Libya has been funding and supporting your and our enemies down to the present day.

  70. Caedmon says:

    Pageantmaster at 48.

    Yes, well, let’s have a look at that Wiki article, shall we?:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Bacevich

    Next, let’s look at some of the books and articles written by Bacevich referenced there, and find out why the Founding Fathers and traditional conservatism has been non-interventionist (yes, that’s [i]non-interventionist[/i], not “isolationist”). Let’s find out why there is, in this Tea Party movement you seemingly champion, a growing and increasingly vocal segment of “antiwar conservatives” who, with Bacevich, are concerned to preserve the wisdom of the Founders and reinstate a sane and constitutional foreign policy. To blue blazes with “the development of international law” and the hallucinations of the neoconservatives. [i]Ad fontes[/i]. (If there was ever an Anglican cry, it is that one.)

  71. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #68 JustOneVoice
    Thank you for that thoughtful perspective. Food for more thought.

  72. off2 says:

    And, of course, there is the 800 (or fewer) pound gorilla, which is the television coverage of the hero’s tumultuous welcome given to the airplane bomber, whom the Scottish government release for fraudulently compassionate reasons, not too many months ago.

    I do not want the lives and health of my relatives who serve to be put at risk for feel good reasons. Save them for causes in our national interest.

    Furthermore, PM, with respect, a great many Americans are not pleased with many of the international agreements which recent governments have entered into.

  73. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #71 Thanks Caedmon. I am English and champion neither the Tea Party movement, nor antiwar conservatives, nor neoconservative hallucinations. International law exists, and is here to stay, however much anyone might wish it to disappear. We live in a world our parents built.

  74. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #73 Off2
    [blockquote]Furthermore, PM, with respect, a great many Americans are not pleased with many of the international agreements which recent governments have entered into.[/blockquote]
    Actually Off2, we are not exactly over the moon about some of the international agreements which our recent governments have entered into, particularly relating to the European Union, and our fishing grounds.
    As I say, whether to intervene for us is a bit of a Hobson’s Choice – but there is a humanitarian imperitive, and perhaps some good may come out of it all, as we also pray for Egypt and Tunisia.

  75. Larry Morse says:

    Weel, but Sarah you have not answered my proposition, that the US has declared if commitment to allow a country to choose its own government, and we have spoken clearly about human rights.
    What then? Is all our talk nothing but talk? If it isn’t, what do we do save act on the part of those who wish to elect freely their own government? Ort will you be satisfied with just more talk? Obama has committed us to a set of principles which require action. And if we talk and do nothing? “Put your money where your mouth is” time has come.
    Nor is there any poing in waiting for the UN, for they are toothless and handcuffed by their own rules. Safety in divigation? Shall we hide there? International law? I remind you once again of France role in our revolution and what it cost her. Larry

  76. Clueless says:

    “Is our talk nothing but talk?”

    What is wrong with talk being talk? You are talking pretty loud and clear, why don’t you go to Libya and join the rebels? Why don’t you sell your house and send all your money to the rebels? Are you satisfied with “just more talk”? I presume the reason you fail to do so is not because you are simply evil and hypocritical but because practical considerations limit your humanitarian instincts to your local community. (I have no doubt that you are generous and helpful in your local community). That has not stopped you from expressing your disgust at genocide far from home. Well, what applies to yourself also applies to nations. We intervened in Haiti because it was in our backyard. We will probably eventually be forced to intervene in Mexico if it spirals into the failed state Libya has become. We cannot intervene in every failed state (which is the reason we have not intervened in N. Korea). For one thing, geographical constraints make supply lines 10 times more expensive for us than for a neighboring state. Libya is Arabic, Muslim and in Europe’s back yard. Europe and the Arab/Islamic League should deal with it, we are already overextended in that region (as elsewhere).

    “I remind you once again of France role in our revolution and what it cost her.”

    It is true that France bancrupted herself, in part by fanning revolutions and other military adventures including that involving the US revolution. France paid for her adventures (as we are in the process of doing) by hyperinflating her currency. She thus brought on famine and misery on her own people, precipitating the French revolution. Unlike yourself I do not think this was “a good thing”. I think it was an example of very poor stewardship. Certainly it was not a good thing for France. They would have done better cutting their expenses, improving their food delivery systems and staying out of debt. Obviously it was not a very good thing for England either, who expended large amounts of blood and treasure and lost her US colonies right after they had begun to be “profitable” and to repay the gigantic losses of their initial establishment and the Indian wars.

    Was the American Revolution a good thing for America? I don’t know. We had bonds of friendship with England who paid the huge costs of establishing and supplying the colonies when they were first begun, gave us a fairly decent legal system, and protected and defended us during the French and Indian wars. We owe our language, culture, laws, and religion to England whose values to a large extent we share. Was England really so abusive the America? As many people wished to remain British as wished to break away. Our system of government has not changed terribly much from that of England’s which suggests that it was not English “persecution” that we fled. Ours was no French revolution nor was it even a British civil war that exchanged an entire culture, way of life and religion for another form of government. It was merely “profitable” for us to throw off the English yoke, particularly once the initial capital investment was done, and payments in taxes were expected.

    So tell me again why we should emulate our friends the French who supported our revolution against our friends the British?

  77. Sarah says:

    RE: “I would not include the sole power to declare war as a way of preventing the President from taking military action.”

    Hi JustOneVoice, as we’ve already discussed earlier in the thread the President does have emergency powers to take military action, but yes, Congress must declare war. The fact that it has or has not declared war is neither here nor there — failure to comply with the law of our land does not mean that the law of the land does not exist.

    RE: “Both of you argue from a position that the only laws in existence are those internal to nation states.”

    Not at all. I made no such argument nor did I argue from that position. I merely pointed out that international law is irrelevant when it comes to our following our own country’s laws.

    RE: “It is interesting to hear the position of so many Americans for whom perhaps without realising it, isolationism is the default position . . . ”

    It may be that you are recognizing isolationism in some — but certainly not in me or those others who are arguing for following the laws of our country and for only intervening in cases that involve our own country’s national security. Libya is no such place at all. I am quite content for our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, since those were such places. In no way does that somehow make me “an isolationist.” Naming folks who don’t want to go bouncing off into military action in every Tom Dick and Harry country that the EU decides must be intervened in as “isolationist” is really a ridiculous use of the word.

    RE: “International law exists, and is here to stay, however much anyone might wish it to disappear.”

    Great — good luck enforcing “international law.” Hopefully the US can watch that from our shores. Enforcing “international law” is a bit like enforcing the Anglican Communion/RC “dialogues” . . . meaningless indabas indulged in by irrelevant people.

    RE: “but there is a humanitarian imperitive . . . ”

    No, there is no “imperative” at all — nor is there an “imperative” in all the other countries where bullying thugs are murdering citizens for the US to intervene.

    RE: “you have not answered my proposition”

    I don’t even know what your proposition is. You seem to be saying somehow that leaders in the US have said that folks should have democracy.

    Various leaders saying that rather odd thing [that all should have democracy] in no way commits us to launching military action to support “democracy.” I find it bizarre that you should think so. I personally think that everyone should have truffles — but saying that in no way commits me to enforcing the existence of chocolate truffles for all. Other than that I can’t make out what on earth you are talking about.

  78. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    [blockquote]
    [b] 16. Sarah wrote:[/b]

    RE: “Further, our participation in these undeclared wars renders our service members (of which I was one) to be war criminals because they are engaging in acts of war without a declaration of war.”

    Nonsense. That is *not* the definition of a “war criminal.” [/blockquote]

    The United States of America is a current a signatory of the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. As such, we are bound by this treaty.

    [b]Hague 1907, Section III, Article 1: [/b]

    The Contracting Powers recognize that hostilities between themselves must not commence without previous and explicit warning, in the form either of a reasoned declaration of war or of an ultimatum with conditional declaration of war.

    [b]The U.S. Army’s Law of Land Warfare (Field Manual 27-10) states:[/b]

    498. Crimes Under International Law Any person, whether a member of the armed forces or a civilian, who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment. Such offenses in connection with war comprise:

    a. Crimes against peace.
    b. Crimes against humanity.
    c. War crimes.

    ACTS OF WAR WITHOUT A DECLARATION OF WAR ARE CRIMES AGAINST PEACE.

    So, you got me. I said they were “war crimes”. Technically, they are “crimes against peace”. The point is, it is a criminal act. We hung people at Nuremburg for that. Now, it is true that we were hypocrites and did not prosecute members of the Soviet Union for their war crimes…er…crimes against peace since they jointly invaded Poland with Germany and we did prosecute Nazis for the EXACT SAME ACTIONS. But, that does not abrogate the fact that they committed crimes agains peace. If US military personnel engage in acts of war against another nation without a formal declaration of war, they are committing crimes against peace…regardless of whether they are prosecuted or not. “Victors justice” may be the way things actually work, but the principles remain intact. Failure to live by principles does not mean that the principles are wrong or that there won’t eventually be justice.

  79. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    I think “nonsense” was a bit harsh and dismissive. Maybe my understanding is wrong, or maybe there is some other law of which I am unaware, but this is what they taught me in 1985 when the US Army instructed me on the Laws of War.

  80. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    How are people defining “isolationism”? If it means that the United States stops having standing armies on foreign soil during times of peace…well, I guess that I am with the Founding Fathers and an isolationist. For most of the 20th Century, our government has abused the notion of “vital national interests”. The Cold War is over. The United States is not an empire and we are not the world’s policeman. It’s time for the troops to come home. If an attack is launched against us from another nation, we have every right to retaliate. We have a nuclear arsenal that is second to none. We have a Navy that is capable of projecting force around the globe as necessary. We have rockets and missiles and aircraft and bombs enough to devastate any belligerent. Let us focus on stopping the soft invasion and conquest of our soveriegn territory by illegal migrants and on defending our territory from terrorists by utilizing our resources to verify containers on ships are safe, and vessels visiting our ports are safe, and the 20,000,000 people in our territory illegally are found and legally processed out of the country. We spend billions to keep our military in Europe while we let 20 million security risks roam our nation and have a completely porous southern border.

    The United States Military is currently deployed in over 150 nations around the world. That needs to stop. This is not what America was founded for. This is not what our Constitution allows. This is not what we can afford. We are not an empire and this is not right.

  81. Sarah says:

    You’ve named nothing at all in those documents that makes our military involved in “war crimes.” There was certainly a rather clear “ultimatum” [multiple ultimatums] and furthermore our soldiers as a whole have not committed acts “which constitutes a crime under international law” and furthermore the “international” community supported those military actions and committed their own troops to them so I very much doubt that they will turn around and say “ah hah — the US soldiers are engaged in war crimes for being in Iraq because their country’s congress did not issue a declaration of war. You are muddling international law with our country’s law — the two are not the same and regardless, neither international law nor our country’s law at all defines “war crimes” as “soldiers involved in a war when the specific country’s Congress did not declare a war.” Our leaders violating the Constitution does not therefore mean “our soldiers are war criminals.”

    It’s hard for me to come up with another word for what constitutes your massive leap over several logical and rational chasms that it requires for that “any of our soldiers which participate in conflicts where Congress has not issued a declaration of war are engaged in war crimes.”

    I probably shouldn’t have even engaged it as something worthy to be responded to; clearly nobody else has bothered to respond.

  82. Sarah says:

    I agree with your last paragraph in #81 however.

  83. JustOneVoice says:

    79. Sick & Tired of Nuance

    The portion of the Hague Convention you referenced applies to hostilities between the contracting parties. From what I was able to find (and I am ready to be corrected) Libya is not a contracting party to the Hague convention, so it does not apply to this situation.

    Additionally, the text “previous and explicit warning, in the form either of a reasoned declaration of war or of an ultimatum with conditional declaration of war.” is pretty vague. A “reasoned declaration of war” is far from a formal declaration of war. However, as stated above, this does not apply to Libya.

  84. Caedmon says:

    [i]International law exists, and is here to stay, however much anyone might wish it to disappear. We live in a world our parents built.[/i]

    Oh, rubbish. (If I may not put too fine a point on it.) The Constitution is the supreme law of the land in the United States, and that only with the continued blessing of the American people in their respective states. And we may go back and correct ANY mistake our parents made, if we have the will to do so.

  85. JustOneVoice says:

    78. Sarah wrote:
    [blockquote]The fact that it has or has not declared war is neither here nor there—failure to comply with the law of our land does not mean that the law of the land does not exist.[/blockquote]

    What law is this? The constitution does not state it. In post #80, Sick & Tired of Nuance references to the Hague Convention and The U.S. Army’s Law of Land Warfare (Field Manual 27-10) to make a tenuous case, the weaknesses I pointed out in an earlier post.

    Please provide a reference to a law that states that War must be declared before the President can take military action. I’m am not saying it does not exist, I just have never heard of it.

  86. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    What part of commencing hostilities “without previous and explicit warning, in the form either of a reasoned declaration of war or of an ultimatum with conditional declaration of war” is unclear to you? Show me the explicit “reasoned declaration of war” that we issued previous to commencing hostilities and I will recant. I recall no declaration of war. The US is a signatory to the Hague Convention, and therefore, because it is a treaty, it carries more weight than domestic law (the Constitution says so). I’m willing to be wrong. Show me how this treaty does not apply. As I admitted before, I used the wrong term, so let us both use the correct term of “crimes against peace”.

    Soldiers have a legal and moral obligation to disregard unlawful orders. A general cannot lawfully order a private to shoot a non-combatant and the private is legally liable for carrying out an unlawful order. If no war is declared, how can there be any enemy combatants? Shooting (other than in self defense) at others that are not combatants may well be a war crime and also a crime against peace.

    I have had to think about this stuff and believe me, we were told that we would be held personally liable for violations of the Laws of War. They went into the minutiae of instructing us not to modify our ammunition (or using hollow points, etc.) because it would be a war crime. We were instructed that it was a war crime to use white phosphorous munitions against personnel because that would be a war crime. We had classes on My Lai and we were made fully aware of our legal liability for following illegal orders. We were instructed that: Military necessity has been generally rejected as a defense for acts forbidden by the customary and conventional laws of war inasmuch as the latter have been developed and framed with consideration for the concept of military necessity.” That holds true for our treatment of civilians and for the rest of the “conventional laws of war”. We were told that we could not just claim that we were following orders and expect that would be a viable defense. It wasn’t for the Germans and it wouldn’t be for us.

    I believe that hostilities against another nation without a declaration of war are crimes against peace, and are violations of our treaties and therefore prosecutable.

    We should have a declaration of war for our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and if we want to invade Libya, we should declare war. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 (50 U.S.C. 1541–1548) might allow for limited engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan (long since passing beyond the 90 day limit) but I would like to see a case made that we are “under attack or serious threat” from Libya.

    What other lawful justification exists (outside NATO and SEATO) for the President to send military troops to a foreign nation and have them engage in hostilities?

    If folks want us to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan, fine…let’s have a reasoned declaration of war. That’s in accord with our treaty obligations and our constitution says that that is how it is supposed to work. The War Powers Act is the only exception that I am aware of and it is limited and narrowly defined.

  87. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    84. JustOneVoice

    In point of fact, Libya did sign on in 1996.

    http://www.pca-cpa.org/upload/files/07 Annex 1 eng.pdf

  88. JustOneVoice says:

    Sick & Tired of Nuance what does the adjective “reasoned”, when applied to a “declaration of war”, mean? I’m guessing this was intentionally added to give the signing parties wiggle room.

    To the best I was able to research, given a very short time, Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq are not “Contracting Parties” to the Hague convention, so this does not apply to them.

    What lawful justification exists to prevent the President from sending military troops to a foreign nation that is not part of a treaty with us and have them engage in hostilities?

  89. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    The numbers changed. I guess the post I responded to is now 84. JustOneVoice

  90. JustOneVoice says:

    Sick & Tired of Nuance – Thank you. All my arguments stating that the Hague Convention did not apply because they were not signatories are wrong. The online references I found were not complete.

    I still think the adjective “reasoned” provides enough wiggle room to allow the President to take military action we are discussing. In Iraq, the President told Saddam to leave or else we would attack. In Afghanistan the President told the Taliban to give up bin Laden or get attacked. In Libya I’m sure we will tell Gaddafi to stop or we will attack. I believe these can be considered reasoned declarations of war in terms of the Hague Convention and not formal declarations of war in terms of the U.S. Constitution. If the Congress feels it’s power has been usurped, they can defund or impeach. Since they have explicitly vote to continue funding Iraq and Afghanistan, it appears they do not think their power has been usurped. We will have to seen about Libya.

  91. carl says:

    87. Sick & Tired of Nuance

    When were you ever instructed that you had the right to disobey an otherwise lawful order to shoot on the grounds that Congress had not declared war?

    carl

  92. Sick & Tired of Nuance says: