Death Blow to US Constitution as Obama, NOT Congress, Declares War in Libya
"And we can't stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy ..." so sayeth Obama, unless, he did not add out loud, said tyrant is one of our many "friend-to-America" tyrants, and that is OKAY apparently to Mr. Peace Prize who campaigned on changing the Bush slippery slope of executive office abuse and war criminality.
Once again, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!!!" as Chicken Little declared, as well as Obama, Clinton, Kerry, Lieberman, McCain, et al. and all their corporate media buddies.
No time to stop and reflect on what is going on, like America once again waging war on another nation! What is the prob, seriously? This is the normalized drill from here on out. The U.S. Constitution as quaint and irrelevant as the Articles of the Geneva Conventions.
I mean, Charlie Sheen's recent behavior. Now that is material for a prolonged national conversation. But launching another war? Besides, everyone has been warmed up for ages about the one the neocons and neolibs want with Iran. Why should we bother to EXPLORE the motivations of our leadership? And besides, we've got just the insanely expensive and insanely deadly machinery to do it, if those recycled kids still left alive in our military can't handle this one (you know who I am talking about, the exploited and forever entrapped soldier idealists who are dying for US corporate-agenda warfare with their Russian roulette rounds of deployments so that the vast majority of America doesn't have to get up close and personal ever to the consequences of how our tax dollars are being spent to kill).
Besides, when your only tool is a hammer (our military budget will be $719 billion with no protest from our Congress) EVERYTHING appears a nail.
It's just a little oversight, apparently, Obama not Congress waging war. Most of us may have taken that niggling little notice that this is not QUITE okay, but it doesn't seem to be a prob for our trusted and betraying corporate media, so what the hey. How Obama has assumed the authority to wage war a la George Bush, again, to do so without Congressional authorization or even a national conversation. Picky picky picky?
And, there is that "reluctance" in Obama's voice that is being touted by every news station anchor I have heard today, that he really does NOT WANT to go to war. Whew, well that is a comfort. How impressive. (Of course there is reluctance!!! Not necessarily because of any lives at risk, but because only 17% of citizens are left supporting the war in Afghanistan and there is the Prez election coming up in 2012 ... etc. Academy Award Winning teflon Prez Obama has to call on his awesome spin-capacity to make one more profound, grotesque and in your face hypocrisy palatable for America. I have no doubt he will, since this is his amoral genius. Why bemused so-called progressives are ruefully deciding to vote for him in 2012 rather than acknowledge issues of impeachment is beyond me. But, hey, if Bush never got impeached, why would we do that to Obama? That slippery slope of non-accountability ... of course, earnestly enabled by Obama as much as Bush ... begats more and more illegitimate behavior. Institutionalized evil I'd call it. Obama's pragmatism others will.)
Addressing the glaring US hypocrisies, who has time for this during this "May Day, May Day!" madness in Libya? I mean just because the US political and military patriarchy hypocritically cherry-picks who they will bomb the shit out of and who they will let American military troops die for and what monster despots will get our funding, armaments and enabling, why on earth should we press PAUSE and "review the situation" in Libya and hope that a corporate-captured Congress would at least try to do the right thing. We are not even getting kabuki on this.
It's not like the US government has made any mistakes thus far. Oh, okay, millions of people have been killed or displaced by our imperialism and thousands upon thousands of our own troops have died, sustained horrifying physical and emotional injuries, even committed suicide from the horrors and guilt or homicides from the sustained stress paranoia to survive or war-addiction induced sociopathology, and that there has been no accountability for war crimes and illegitimate abuse of America's vast military arsenal against inconvenient foreign leaders in the way of our or any war criminal cronies' quest for oil, other resources and/or bullying power in a given region of the world. And how anti-humanitarian of me to point out the US population needs its tax dollars for its own crises now rather than for supposedly policing the globe to stop violence our government has friggin' armed the entire globe to be capable of, btw.
It is Glenn Greenwald who suggests this executive ordered authorization is a death blow to the US Constitution. Dennis Kucinich also calls out our profoundly obtuse political leadership as well as citizenry on this not small issue.
The one point I want to underscore is that the constitutional requirement for Congressional approval is not some legalistic or technical barrier; it's vital. The Founders emphasized that war is the most serious matter upon which a nation can embark, that it is the citizenry that bears the risks and costs, and it is thus imperative that they first consent through their representatives in Congress. John Jay explained in Federalist 4 that Presidents will start wars that are unnecessary and unjust -- i.e., for their own self-serving benefit -- but the people are much less likely to do so (emphasis added):
But the safety of the people of America against dangers from foreign force depends not only on their forbearing to give just causes of war to other nations, but also on their placing and continuing themselves in such a situation as not to invite hostility or insult; for it need not be observed that there are pretended as well as just causes of war.
The dangers from unilateral, presidential-decreed wars are highlighted in the Libya situation. There has been very little public discussion (and even less explanation from the President) about the reasons we should do this, what the costs would be on any level, what the end goal would be, how mission creep would be avoided, whether the "Pottery Barn" rule will apply, or virtually anything else. Public opinion is at best divided on the question if not opposed. Even if you're someone who favors this intervention, what's the rationale for not requiring a debate and vote in Congress over whether the President should be able to commit the nation to a new military conflict? Candidate Obama, candidate Clinton, and the Bush-era Democrats all recognized the constitutional impropriety of unilateral actions like this one; why shouldn't they be held to that?
Greenwald cites Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin:
Barack Obama has largely confirmed these expectations, much to the dismay of many liberals who supported him. After issuing a series of publicly lauded executive orders on assuming office (including a ban on torture), he has more or less systematically adopted policies consistent with the second term of the George W. Bush Administration, employing the new powers granted to the President by Congress in the Authorization of the Use of Military Force of 2001, the Patriot Act of 2001 (as amended), the Protect America Act of 2007, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 and the Military Commissions Acts of 2006 and 2009. These statutory authorizations have created a basic framework for the National Surveillance State, and have made Obama the most powerful president in history in these policy areas.
The choice we face today, therefore, is not whether we will have a National Surveillance State, but the kind of National Surveillance State we will have-- one that does its best to protect privacy, civil liberties and internationally recognized human rights in changing conditions, or one that debilitates or eliminates these protections and guarantees, and brings us ever closer to emergency government as a normal condition of politics.
And for Kucinich:
Rep. Dennis Kucinich is calling for the recessed Congress to come back into session after President Obama announced that the United States will support a United Nations-approved no-fly-zone over Libya.
Kucinich, an outspoken opponent to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said in a statement that the president does not have the Constitutional power to unilaterally declare war and called on House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to immediately call the Congress back into session “to decide whether or not to authorize the United States’ participation in a military strike.”
“While the action is billed as protecting the civilians of Libya, a no-fly-zone begins with an attack on the air defenses of Libya and Qaddafi forces. It is an act of war. The president made statements which attempt to minimize U.S. action, but U.S. planes may drop U.S. bombs and U.S. missiles may be involved in striking another sovereign nation. War from the air is still war,” Kucinich, D-Ohio, wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders Friday afternoon. “Whether the U.S. takes military action is not for the UN alone to decide. There is a constitutional imperative in the United States with respect to deciding to commit our U.S. armed forces to war.”
“Both houses of Congress must weigh in,” he added. “This is not for the President alone, or for a few high ranking Members of Congress to decide.”
But the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told ABC News Friday afternoon that he did not believe Congressional authorization is necessary for U.S. involvement, and credited the president for opening up a White House national security briefing Friday to Congressional leaders from both parties.
And then there is that Michael Hughes annoyingly trying to stir up trouble and consciousness (good luck with that, Michael), pointing out that as we commit to war with Libya for humanitarian principle to help the rebels, the Bahrainian monarchy's brutal, Saudi-Arabian enabled crackdown on Bahrainian citizens also fighting repression is simultaneously ignored by a hypocritical and craven US leadership and its convenient disinforming crony, corporate media. Faux-humanitarianism and chronic chicken hawkism continue to prevail.
Although U.S. officials condemned Bahrain’s use of deadly force against unarmed protestors on Wednesday, experts say the Obama administration is reticent to support the people because the Bahraini monarchy best serves U.S. regional interests. Critics accuse the U.S. of employing a double-standard – reluctant to oust the monarchy in Bahrain but more than willing to encourage Libyans to topple Moammar Gaddafi.
The U.S. is also hesitant to criticize Sunni ally Saudi Arabia, which invaded Bahrain on Tuesday at the request of Bahrain’s Sunni royal family to quell Shiite protests. Mideast expert Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times can kick a door open in one’s mind with his perspectives on these events, as he did yesterday:
Let's imagine that neo-Napoleonic French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio "Bunga Bunga" Berlusconi decided to send North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops to help not the Libyan rebels but Muammar "King of Kings" Gaddafi to protect his "sensitive installations". After all, as Gaddafi assured the world, these rebels are "terrorists".
That's exactly what happened with the House of Saud sending armored carriers, tanks and 1,000 troops - part of "Peninsula Shield" forces - to Bahrain to repress an unarmed, civilian, domestic opposition (al-Qaeda or Iran "terrorists", take your pick) demanding political reform.
John Kerry said about the Libyan crisis that, "The US and world community must show they will not stand by while this thug Gaddafi uses air power to murder fellow Libyans.” But why are Kerry and the world community willing to stand by as Bahrain’s al-Khalifa family and the Saudis do the same? Escobar provides another mind-bending analogy:
Imagine the outrage in the "international community" - and the calls to start carpet-bombing right away - if this was Iran invading Lebanon.
The U.S. fears it will lose its naval base in Bahrain should the government come under the control of Shiites – who, despite making up 70% of Bahrain’s population, have lived under the thumb of Sunni royals for over 200 years. And such a move would tip the regional balance of power towards the Shiite Iranians.
For those who refuse to believe the Bahraini movement is a legitimate peaceful struggle for democracy, look at the “tweets” of Bahraini citizens that capture the brutality of the crackdowns and reports from journalists on the ground, which have painted an image of repression not unlike what was seen in Tahrir Square in Cairo.
The Mideast tumult has elucidated the unholy alliance between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, illustrating that the globe’s leading democracy is in bed with one of the most repressive regimes on earth - a partnership fundamentally based on oil and containing Iran.
As a matter of fact, throughout the historic protests Saudi Arabia has acted as a safe haven for dictators. The House of Saud provided sanctuary to Tunisia's tyrant Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, was more than willing to host Egypt’s Mubarak and will likely extend a hand to Yemen’s despot, Ali Abdullah Saleh, once his regime falls.
Finally, Felicity Arbuthnot paints a grim picture of the future of those "friends" now being enabled by the US and cronies so addicted to imperialistic interventionism.
The bombing of Libya will begin on or nearly to the day, of the eighth anniversary of the beginning of the destruction of Iraq, 19th March, in Europe. Libya too will be destroyed - its schools, education system, water, infrastructure, hospitals, municipal buildings. There will be numerous "tragic mistakes", "collateral damage", mothers, fathers, children, babies, grandparents, blind and deaf schools and on and on. And the wonders of the Roman remains and earlier, largely enduring and revered in all history's turmoils as Iraq, the nation's history - and humanity's, again as Iraq and Afghanistan, will be gone, for ever.
The infrastructure will be destroyed. The embargo will remain in place, thus rebuilding will be impossible. Britain, France and the US., will decide the country needs "stabilising", "help with reconstruction." They will move in, secure the oil installations and oil fields, the Libyan people will be an incidental inconvenience and quickly become "the enemy", "insurgents", be shot, imprisoned, tortured, abused - and a US friendly puppet "government" will be installed.
The invaders will award their companies rebuilding contracts, the money - likely taken from Libya's frozen assets without accounting - will vanish and the country will remain largely in ruins.
And the loudest cheerleaders for this, as Iraq, will be running round tv and radio stations in London, Europe and the US, then returning to their safe apartments and their UK/US/Europe paid tenures, in the knowledge that no bombs will be dropping on them. Their children will not be shaking uncontrollably and soiling themselves with terror at the sound of approaching planes.
And this Libyan "Shock and Awe"? Shame on France, shame on Britain and the US and a UN avowed: "... to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war." Every shattered body, every child maimed or blown to bits, every widow, widower, orphan, will have their name of those countries, and the UN., written in their blood in their place of death.
And the public of these murderous, marauding Western ram raiders, will be told that we were bringing democracy, liberating Libya from a tyrant, from the "new Hitler", the "Butcher of Bengazi."
The countries who have ganged together these last days to overthrow a sovereign government have, again, arguably, conspired in Nuremberg's: " ... supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole", and yet again, plotted to overthrow a sovereign government, with a fig leaf of "legality" from an arm twisted UN. We have seen it all before.
In time, it will emerge, who was stirring, bribing, de-stabilizing - and likely few will be surprised at the findings. But by then, Libya will be long broken and its people, fleeing, displaced, distraught.
When it comes to dealing with the usual "liberators", be careful what you wish for. In six months or so, most Libyans, whatever the failings of the last forty years rule, will be ruing the day.
You know, the toughest thing is to watch the US Constitution circle the bowl with so few of our citizenry noticing or, maybe, not caring. Also it will be tough to watch even more thousands of lives lost since bombing the shit out of people for this administration as well as the last is the only way to apparently even begin to solve global problems.