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The Illegal War in Libya

 
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LizE



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 253

PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:25 pm    Post subject: The Illegal War in Libya Reply with quote

Is anyone following this story? Our president is prosecuting a war in Libya that, according to his own Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel and DoD general counsel is illegal. This story was broken by the New York Times last weekend and deserves to be noticed and discussed.

Ignoring the advice of his top legal advisers, our president has tried to convince the American public that he does not need congressional approval because this is not a "war" or "hostilities" and that it will be over in no time at all. He is supported in this abuse of power by people like Lindsey Graham, who says congress should just "shut up." So we aren't engaged in hostilities? Hmm. If another country flew drones over the US, dropping bombs and attempting to kill our president, you think we might call that a hostile act? Maybe an act of war? Not only is this in violation of the constitution, it is costing millions if not billions of dollars at a time when we're being sold the virtues of austerity measures by our warmongering administration and its mouthpieces.

Is anyone else a little worried about the perpetual state of war in which we exist these days? Or that our president is openly thumbing his nose at both the consitution and his own top legal advisers? Or that if we and congress let this pass, it will set a precedent for future presidents?

Thoughts?
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iluvarake



Joined: 26 Jan 2009
Posts: 799

PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's appalling. I voted for Obama and I am deeply disappointed in his administration. From warrantless wiretapping to Libya, he is continuing many of Bush's most appalling policies thereby making them the status quo for who knows how long. He ran on trying to rebuild our middle class and yet almost all his decisions seem to only support the growing power of corporations in our political system - an outgrowth of which is this state of permanent war.

The saddest thing to me is that I'm still supporting him in the next election because the Republican candidates would seem to be even more extreme. I'm really afraid of what my daughter's America will look like.
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Justin managed to look superior and bored and disbelieving all at once. No mean feat for a man who'd just fallen from a tree.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2499

PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm of two minds about the business in Libya. It would certainly have been wiser of Obama to get Congressional approval for what he's doing; that he doesn't seem to know how to play the separation of powers "game," is one of the reasons he disappoints. On the other hand, I'm not certain what our obligations to NATO are, and since the business in Libya is supposedly a NATO- or UN-run operation, perhaps he's merely living up to whatever the demands of that treaty, all of which poses a stickier problem, constitutionally, than his overstepping the limitation of powers clause.
I think, though, that a great deal of the furor has to do with politics more than anything else. Several presidents prior to Obama have committed the U.S. to "military action" without approval of Congress, if I recall correctly.
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LizE



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 253

PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dick, I think you're right but I believe those presidents did have to get congressional approval for funding. I remember Bush doing it in order to go into Iraq, but it's possible presidents have sidestepped the issue before. If they did, congress should have called them on it then. As many people have pointed out, our obligations to NATO and the UN do not trump the constitution, and the difference now is that the present administration, following in the footsteps of the last one, is completely out of hand. As you said, iluvarake, he is continuing way too many Bush policies but in some instances, like Libya, he is going even further.

Obama first said we were going into Libya as part of a humanitarian effort to protect civilians, we'd be in and out in no time and would have absolutely nothing to do with regime change. Now it's obvious we're going after Gadaffi--in other words, doing the opposite of what Obama said we were there for. There's no more talk about being out "days, not weeks" anymore, but we have not been let in on the "new" goal, which obviously involves regime change, let alone how long it will take or how much it will cost. Yet Obama still insists he has the power to commit the US to yet another war without even going through the motions of getting congressional approval. It's time to draw the line.

I guess the president is giving a speech tonight about Afghanistan. Here's a fun fact about that--even if he withdrew 30,000 troops within the next year (which is way beyond what's likely) we would still have twice the number there as when Obama took office. That's what this Big Pullout is all about, reducing the troops to (at best) only twice the number they were four years ago. And btw, can anyone even explain what we are trying to accomplish there?

Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya . . . who knows who's next on the agenda! Welcome to the world of Perpetual War.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2499

PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

These kinds of issues are constitutionally troublesome, as many scholars have pointed out. (It's interesting that Boehner once tried to have the War Powers Act repealed because he believed it un-constitutional.) I agree that lately the U.S. has got involved in too many armed conflicts--which is what the Korean War was called for the entire length of it. It's a good argument though, that "declaring" war is different from waging battles, which the president has constitutional power to do.

I, too, would like to see some more reasonable justification for the intervention in Libya, but I'm still uncertain whether Obama's actions are unconstitutional.
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LizE



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 253

PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not a lawyer, Dick, but I believe the president only has the power to wage battles as the Commander in Chief once Congress has declared war. At any rate, it will be interesting to see what happens next.

I thought at first that Congress had wimped out by voting not to authorize the war in Libya and then voting no on a bill to de-fund it. Apparently, though, the de-funding bill actually authorized some war spending, which the Obama administration might have then claimed was an "implicit" authorization of Libya (an argument President Clinton used re: Kosovo). That's why so many folks who voted not to authorize also voted against the de-funding bill. As Ron Paul put it, the bill, "masquerades as a limitation of funds for the president's war on Libya but is in fact an authorization for that very war. . . . instead of ending the war against Libya, this bill would legalize nearly everything the president is currently doing there."

Wheels within wheels. . . but at least there is a coalition in Congress that is genuinely trying to restrain the president. Let's not forget that at the start of this war, Obama said over and over that regime change was not the plan. But now, according to an article in Foreign Policy, "The top U.S. admiral involved in the Libya war admitted to a U.S. congressman that NATO forces are trying to kill Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi. The same admiral also said he anticipated the need for ground troops in Libya after Qaddafi falls."

It's an interesting article, short and pithy.

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/06/24/exclusive_top_us_admiral_admits_we_are_trying_to_kill_qaddafi
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