Daddy Issues and Foreign Policy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 18th, 2011

Breaking the Law like Dad Did

It’s good to be king.  And sometimes president (see Obama rejects top lawyers’ legal views on Libya by Glenn Greenwald posted 6/18/2011 on Salon).

The growing controversy over President Obama’s illegal waging of war in Libya got much bigger last night with Charlie Savage’s New York Times scoop.  He reveals that top administration lawyers —  Attorney General Eric Holder, OLC Chief Caroline Krass, and DoD General Counsel Jeh Johnson — all told Obama that his latest, widely panned excuse for waging war without Congressional approval (that it does not rise to the level of “hostilities” under the War Powers Resolution (WPR)) was invalid and that such authorization was legally required after 60 days: itself a generous intepretation of the President’s war powers.  But Obama rejected those views and (with the support of administration lawyers in lesser positions:  his White House counsel and long-time political operative Robert Bauer and State Department “legal adviser” Harold Koh) publicly claimed that the WPR does not apply to Libya.

As Savage notes, it is, in particular, “extraordinarily rare” for a President “to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice…”

Kind of reminds me of someone.  Someone else who acted against the advice of their own attorney general.  Who was that?  Hmmm.  Let me think.  It’s on the tip of my tongue.  Not a popular guy.  Oh yes.  Now I remember.

[James] Comey explained that, in 2004, shortly after he became Deputy AG, he reviewed the NSA eavesdropping program Bush had ordered back in 2001 and concluded it was illegal.  Other top administration lawyers — including Attorney General John Ashcroft and OLC Chief Jack Goldsmith — agreed with Comey, and told the White House they would no longer certify the program’s legality.

That’s right.  It was George W. Bush.  Gee, President Obama is getting more and more like Bush every day.  He must hold Bush up as a mentor figure.  Even a father figure.  For it sure looks like he’s trying to impress him.  By being like him.  Like every son wants to be like their dad.  What’s that line from that great father/son song?  “He’d say “I’m gonna be like you Dad.  You know I’m gonna be like you.””  From Cats in the Cradle.  And Obama is trying to be like his surrogate dad.  To do as good a job as Dad did.  Military tribunalsGitmo.  Friends to business (albeit only the ones big enough to buy favors).  Attacked some Muslim countries.  Even breaking the law like Dad did.  Looking for his approval.  His love.  And yearning for that ever elusive hug.  From Poppa.

An Afternoon Tea Party in Libya

But the Libyan War is no big deal.  We don’t have combat brigades there.  Granted we blew the snot out of a lot of things.  And killed a lot of people.  But this isn’t a war with hostilities.  It’s an afternoon tea party.  And it’ll be over before we know it.  Even Harry ‘This War is LostReid isn’t bitching about Libya like he bitched about Iraq.  That other ‘illegal’ war (see Harry Reid On Libya: “This Thing Will Be Over Before We Know It” posted 6/17/2011 on Real Clear Politics).

JIM LEHRER:  Senator, welcome.

SENATOR HARRY REID (D-NV):  Thank you very much for allowing me to be on the show.

MR. LEHRER:  Well, first on the Libya military operation, do you believe the War Powers Act requires authorization of further action?

SEN. REID:  The War Powers Act has no application to what’s going on in Libya.

MR. LEHRER:  None?

SEN. REID:  I don’t believe so.  You know, we did an authorization for Afghanistan.  We did one for Iraq.  But we have no troops on the ground there, and this thing’s going to be over before you know it anyway, so I think it’s not necessary.

So, you see, there’s nothing to get your shorts into a bunch about.  These guys know what they’re doing.  And they know foreign policy.  Geopolitics.  And protecting American security interests.  Like in Libya.  We don’t know what those interests are yet.  But the naysayers will learn in time.  And we’ll see that our non-war in Libya was important.  And necessary.  Just like our Egyptian policy will prove one day to be important and necessary in protecting American security interests.  By demanding that our friend and ally, a bulwark against radical Islamism, maintainer of peace and stability in a Middle East with the Jewish state of Israel, had to step down from power.  Sure, he was corrupt and somewhat oppressive.  But all rulers are in the Middle East.  Life was far better in Egypt than in a lot of other Middle East nations.  Especially for women.  Christians.  And Jews.

But the Obama administration said he had to go.  It made no sense.  And it doesn’t now.  Yet.  But I’m sure it will.  For they must know something that the rest of us don’t.  And that post-Mubarak Egypt will even be better.  For women.  Christians.  And Jews.

Hail the Arab Spring

Hey, look.  They’re already forming another political party.  Yeah for democracy (see After fall of Mubarak, group announces intent to form Nazi party posted 6/18/2011 on Al-Masry Al-Youm).

A group of Egyptians have announced their intent to establish a Nazi party with “a contemporary frame of reference,” an independent Egyptian news website said on Wednesday.

Al-Badeel, a leftist news portal, quoted founding member Emad Abdel Sattar as saying the party would bring together prominent figures from the Egyptian society. The party’s founding deputy is a former military official.

The party believes in vesting all powers in the president after selecting him or her carefully, Abdel Sattar said, adding that preparations are underway to choose the most competent person to represent the party.

Oh dear.  Nazis.  This can’t be good.  Is this for real?

Although Al-Masry Al-Youm could not verify the news reported by Al-Badeel, two Facebook pages have appeared recently under the title of “the Egyptian Nazi Party”.

The two pages attracted around 70 followers, who mostly posted questions about the party’s ideas and policies and requested details on how to join.

Hopefully not.  Perhaps it’s just a fringe group.  Like Hitler’s Nazis were in Germany.  Until they started winning seats in the Reichstag.  And Hindenburg had to reluctantly share power with them in a coalition government.  Even appointed Hitler chancellor.  Then Hindenburg died and Hitler became Führer und Reichskanzler.  Increased his powers.  Eventually making Germany a dictatorship.  The rest is history.  And not a good one.

The party has a one-year plan to develop Egypt, unlike the “marginalized liberal parties, which are like dead bodies,” he said.

A source from the proposed party told Al-Badeel the idea to start it came after some fundamentalist religious waves emerged, which, according to the source, created a state of chaos and led to the burning of churches, the destruction of shrines and assaults on unarmed civilians.

It was the radical Islamist elements of the Arab Spring that created the state of chaos.  Not aspiring Nazis.  They’re just looking to exploit the chaos.  Perhaps this fringe group will just pass on into the dustbin of history.  Sure, they share the anti-Semitic views of the big political party.  The Muslim Brotherhood.  And there are Middle East and Nazi Germany ties.  Even Haj Amin al-Husseini met with Adolf Hitler.  And discussed post-war Nazi ambitions outside the Nazi sphere (such as in the Middle East beyond the Caucasus).  The only Nazi interference in Arab politics would be the continued genocide against the Jews.  Which meshed well with al-Husseini’s vision of a Jewish-free Palestine.  Despite this deep Nazi-Islamic history, I’m sure there is no danger with the rise of a fringe Nazi political party in Egypt.  Because post-Mubarak Egypt has to be even better than Mubarak-Egypt.  Otherwise, why would the Obama administration force Mubarak out?

Does the President need a Hug?

American foreign policy is confused at best.  Intervention where there is no U.S. security interest.  Undermining a friend and ally.  While our enemies grow stronger.  And a past evil is coming back to life.  It begs the question is this on purpose?  Is it incompetence?  Or just a desperate cry for a hug from Poppa?  George W. Bush?

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The Libyan War is the First Battleground in the New War to End Human Suffering

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 3rd, 2011

Men and Women join the Military to Guard this county and our Way of Life

No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.  He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.  In case you don’t recognize these lines they’re from Patton.  In that opening speech George C. Scott gives in front of that giant American flag.  This is the sad reality of war.  People die.  And it’s not only the bad guys.  Often they’re our teenagers.  Our young men and women.  Who answer the call of duty.  Knowing they may die.  For it’s in the job description.  And in the Code of the U.S. Fighting Force:

I am an American fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

That’s why people join the military.  To risk their life guarding this county.  And our way of life.  This is the contract they signed on to.  Not humanitarian missions guarding other people and their way of life.  It’s one thing making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.  But it’s a whole other thing making the ultimate sacrifice just so another people can have a better life.  While your family is left with only memories. And a flag that draped a coffin. 

The Many Roads to War

Vietnam was yet another chapter in the Cold War to block Soviet Expansion.  Before Vietnam we were pretty successful.  We checked them in Berlin.  Greece.  Turkey.  Iran.  Failed in China.  Held the line on the Korean peninsula.  In Cuba (where we prevented the Soviets from placing their nuclear weapons there).  And tried again in South Vietnam.  And failed.  JFK was a Cold War warrior.  That’s why he went into Vietnam.  To check Soviet Expansion.  Our enemy in the Cold War.  Who was always trying to undermine our country and way of life.  People may not remember this, but Vietnam was a popular war before it was unpopular.  Because we lived in fear of the Soviet Union.  And their mushroom cloud.

Much of the world’s oil flows from the Persian Gulf region.  You stop that oil exportation and the world stops.  Remember the oil crisis of 1973?  We would dream of times as good as those should a Middle East dictator shut down that oil flow.  That’s why we threw Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in the Gulf War.  To stop him from controlling all of that oil.  We went into Afghanistan to topple the Taliban who was giving sanctuary to al Qaeda.  For we had traced the 9/11 attacks back to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

The Iraq War is a little more complicated.  Hussein had repeatedly violated the terms of the ceasefire ending the Gulf War.  He was a threat to the region.  And the Saudis were very reluctant to shut down the terrorist financing in Saudi Arabia lest the Wahhabi rise up and overthrow their kingdom.  Long story short, our Iraqi invasion forced their hand.  Because they feared Iranian hegemony in the Middle East more than the Wahhabi.  Say what you want about the Saudis, but they walk a fine line between helping us and maintaining Arab peace.  All the while not playing politics with their oil.  You can’t really ask for more in a friend and ally.

Now Libya?  Whatever happened in Libya would not have changed life in America.  It was not a national security interest.  It was to the Europeans who bought Libyan oil.  And those nations that may face an influx of refugees hitting their shores.  But there was no U.S. interest for Americans to die for.  It’s a purely humanitarian mission.  Sure, the slaughter of innocents is bad.  And we have a big and powerful military.  But the men and women who sign up to serve pledge to give their life to guard this county.  And our way of life.  Not theirs.  It’s a heavy burden to send men and women into harm’s way.  Especially when some may make that ultimate sacrifice.  But when families understand why their loved ones died, they can find some solace that at least their loss served a higher purpose.  But that ‘why’ in Libya is not going to assuage much of their grief.  Should there be grief.

So why Libya?  It doesn’t make any sense from a national security standpoint.  From a military standpoint.  A diplomatic standpoint.  It’s very confusing.  Why, we don’t even know who the people are that we’re helping.  It would appear that emotion, not logic, got us into Libya.

Women bring Distinctive Life Experiences to Politics

There’s a big push to get more women into government.  For they bring something to the office a man doesn’t (see For a woman to reach the White House, the 2012 elections will be key by Debbie Walsh and Kathy Kleeman posted 4/1/2011 on The Washington Post).

This isn’t just about numbers, though. Women bring distinctive life experiences to politics, and research shows that female officeholders change both the policy agenda and the governing process. Whether the issue is equal access to credit (Bella Abzug) or education (Patsy Mink), family and medical leave (Marge Roukema), or inclusion of women in medical research (Pat Schroeder and Olympia Snowe), female lawmakers have long been recognized as powerful voices on behalf of women, children and families…

Eager for more female candidates, including some who don’t fit the traditional patterns, we’re working on the 2012 Project — a national, nonpartisan CAWP campaign in collaboration with California political strategist Mary Hughes to increase the number of women in federal and state legislative offices. Our goal is to identify and engage accomplished women 45 and older to run for office, women who already have established careers and reduced family responsibilities. We are especially seeking women from fields and industries underrepresented in elective offices, including finance, science, technology, energy and health care.

So they’re trying to find women who also happen to have these qualities to serve in government.  It would seem better to find people with these qualities who happen to be women.  Because it sounds like we’re trying to find the best qualified women.  Instead of the best qualified.  I wonder what Margaret Thatcher thinks of this.  I mean, she was a great leader.  Not just the best woman they could find to be prime minister.

A Woman with “Distinctive Life Experiences” advises Obama to go to War in Libya

There are some women already in politics.  One in particular has quite a powerful position in the Obama administration.  A confidant and adviser to the president.  Well learned and scholarly.  Wrote a book.  Which won her a Pulitzer Prize.  So she’s quite accomplished.  And people should fear her abroad.  Because she likes to send the military on lethal humanitarian missions.  And she’s going places (see Samantha Power to be the next Secretary of State? by Cathy Hayes posted 4/2/2011 on IrishCentral). 

A flattering New York Times profile has increased speculation that Samantha Power, the Dublin-born aide to President Obama, could be his next Secretary of State or National Security Adviser.

She has been the main architect, along with Hillary Clinton, of the Libya policy and has an increasing influence in the White House inner circle.

Of course that new job may all depend on what happens in Libya.  Will the mission creep?  Will there be boots on the ground?  And coffins returning to Dover Air Force Base?  Or will Qaddafi leave and peacefully transfer power to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group?  Or al Qaeda?  The Muslim Brotherhood?  Or whoever the rebels are?

…she defended the administration’s decision in establishing a no-fly zone, adding failure to do so would have been “extremely chilling, deadly and indeed a stain on our collective conscience.”

Since she began her career working as a war correspondant in Bosnia at the tender age of 22, Power has believed that nations have a moral obligation to prevent genocide. She can bring life to these ideals from her position of the National Security Council…

Some of her critics say that she could be pushing the U.S. into another Iraq. The conservative blog American Thinker says that Obama has “outsourced foreign policy” to the Dublin woman. She has also drawn the ire of the Israeli lobby for her pro-Palestinian positions.

Another Iraq?  I think another Vietnam may be more appropriate.  Because of the mission creep (from advisors to airpower to boots on the ground).  And the affect on the Johnson‘s presidency.  Made him a one-term president.  Unpopular wars can do that.  Will the Libyan War stay popular?  If so perhaps it can be another Iraq.  If not?  Hello Vietnam.

This is the problem of getting women into politics because they are women.  They bring those “distinctive life experiences to politics.”  Emotions then cloud prudent deliberation.  For it would have been better if someone else had the president’s ear regarding Libya.  Someone who said, yes, the situation in Libya is bad.  But we can’t send young Americans on lethal humanitarian missions where ever there is horrible suffering and crimes against humanity.  Because there is horrible suffering and crimes against humanity everywhere.  We can’t pick and choose.  Play God.  Say these people are worthy of living.  While these people should die.  And we can’t encourage others to rise up because they think we will intervene in their country, too.  We just don’t have the resources.  And we can’t ask our brave men and women to do things they didn’t contract for when they joined the military.  Dying for someone else’s country and way of life.

Instead, it was the softer side of the Obama administration that cringed at the thought of people suffering.  And these women did not hesitate to put our men and women at risk to soothe their anguished souls.  And why not?  These leftist intellectuals hate the military (the Ivy League only recently -and reluctantly- let ROTC back on their campuses with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, no doubt conflicting them.  They enjoyed all the turmoil this is causing in the military.  But now they can’t use that excuse anymore to keep these people off of their campuses).  They don’t care if these people die.  You want to play war?  Okay.  Go play war in Libya.  Kill for us.  Be useful for the first time in your miserable lives.

The War to end Human Suffering

Now women in power is not necessarily bad.  Margaret Thatcher was a great leader.  I wish there were more of her to go around.  It’s getting women in power just because they’re women that is bad.  Especially when they bring those “distinctive life experiences.”  We can’t afford ‘nurturing mother’ types running our foreign policy.  Nurturers want to help.  Because they can’t bear to see suffering.  We need people who can see beyond the suffering.  Who can get past their emotions. 

The military is not a cold impersonal thing.  It’s our sons and daughters.  Our brothers and sisters.  Our fathers and mothers.  Our husbands and wives.  These are people.  Real people.  And we need to treat them as the precious resources they are.  Yes, some may die completing a mission.  So it is our duty to them to make sure they do not die in vain.  That we never ask them to make the supreme sacrifice just to make someone feel better.  Yes, suffering is bad.  But suffering is not a national security interest.  Oil is.  Stability in the Middle East is.  Sealing our southern border is.  Fighting al Qaeda is.  But suffering in Libya, the Ivory Coast, North Korea, (insert a country where there is suffering here), etc., is not. 

Suffering is bad.  But no reason to send Americans to die in war.  We cannot declare war on human suffering.  Because that’s a war that we can never win.  Like our war on drugs.  It requires changing human nature.  And until we can do that there will always be suffering.  And people using drugs.  We have a much better chance stopping terrorism. 

A war on terror?  Now there’s a war worth fighting.  Because winning that war is in our national security interest.

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Obama Looking less George W. Bush and more Jimmy Carter/LBJ

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 1st, 2011

Construction Spending down despite all those Shovel-Ready Projects

Some days it just sucks to be Obama (see February construction spending down 1.4% by Steve Goldstein posted 1/1/2011 on MarketWatch).

February construction spending fell 1.4% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $760.6 billion, the lowest level in more than 11 years, the Commerce Department said Friday. January spending was revised lower to a decline of 1.8% from a previous estimate of a 0.7% fall. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.1% rise.

Construction is the last to enter recession.  And it’s the last to emerge from recession.  Because it takes a long time to go from design to completion.  But after all those shovel-ready projects bought and paid for by the stimulus bill back in 2009, construction should not be the worse it has been in 11 years.  That means the economy is still a mess.  And it may very well get messier.

First bad Fiscal and Monetary Policy, then Inflation

Yes, we’re still mired in recession.  But recession may soon be joined with something we haven’t seen since the 1970s.  At least, not during a recession (see Fed Is Likely to Raise Rates By End of the Year: Lacker by CNBC.com and Reuters posted 1/1/2011 on CNBC).

Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker told CNBC Friday that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the central bank raised interest rates before the end of the year…

He said his greater concern is rising inflation and controlling it in the next nine months “will be critical for us.”

Jimmy Carter must be smiling.  Many say he was the worst president.  Mainly because of the stagflation of the 1970s.  High unemployment and high inflation.  Normally, you don’t get the two together unless you really managed to make a mess of the economy.  And now it looks like Obama may go all Jimmy Carter on us.  We still have record unemployment.  And the Fed, while they’re still planning to go ahead with more quantitative easing in June:

At its last meeting, the Fed voted unanimously to continue as planned with its $600 billion bond purchase program, designed to lower interest rates and stimulate growth, which is scheduled to end in June.

is already talking about battling the inflation their previous actions have given us.  Which they did in a futile attempt to counter Obama’s job-killing fiscal policies.  No doubt Carter is grateful he has lived to see this day.  When another president has ruined the economy greater than he did.

TARP bails out Libyan Owned Bank

But it gets better.  For Carter, that is (see Libya-Owned Arab Banking Corp. Drew at Least $5 Billion From Fed in Crisis by Donal Griffin and Bob Ivry posted 1/1/2011 on Bloomberg).

Arab Banking Corp., the lender part- owned by the Central Bank of Libya, used a New York branch to get 73 loans from the U.S. Federal Reserve in the 18 months after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed.

The bank, then 29 percent-owned by the Libyan state, had aggregate borrowings in that period of $35 billion — while the largest single loan amount outstanding was $1.2 billion in July 2009, according to Fed data released yesterday. In October 2008, when lending to financial institutions by the central bank’s so- called discount window peaked at $111 billion, Arab Banking took repeated loans totaling more than $2 billion…

Arab Banking reported a loss of $880 million in 2008 as it took a $1.1 billion charge tied to structured investment vehicles and derivative products known as collateralized debt obligations. Arab Banking recovered during the next two years, posting profits totaling $265 million.

So, Arab Banking Corp., part-owned by the Central Bank of Libya, the country we’re currently bombing now to ‘encourage’ regime change, was ‘bailed out’ in our TARP program.  That hurts in so many ways.  Our tax dollars that our Congress authorized to purchase trouble assets (i.e., all those Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac subprime mortgages) not only bailed out Obama’s friends on Wall Street, they bailed out foreign banks.  Even helped a Libyan dictator.  Who we’re now trying to ‘accidentally’ kill.  I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.  Meanwhile, Carter looks like a better president with each day that passes by.  Who’d’ve thunk it?

Liberal Base says Obama is Worse than George W. Bush

And speaking of that Libyan…thing…that’s not a war but has all the bombing and killing of a war…how’s that going?  Not so good with the president’s base (see Liberals outraged by Libya intervention posted 1/1/2011 on UPI).

Liberal Democrats, key to Barack Obama’s election as U.S. president, are some of the loudest critics on his strategy on Libya, a review of reaction indicates…

“In two years we have moved from President [George W.] Bush’s doctrine of preventive war to President Obama’s assertion of the right to go to war without even the pretext of a threat to our nation,” Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, an anti-war liberal, said Thursday during a House floor speech. “This is a clear and arrogant violation of our Constitution. Even a war launched for humanitarian reasons is still a war — and only Congress can declare war.”

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said Congress and the White House have argued for years over the division of power in wartime, but “the Constitution grants sole authority to the Congress to commit the nation to battle in the first instance.”

That sounds like they’re saying that Obama is worse than George W. Bush.  Wow.  At least Bush had the pretext of weapons of mass destruction.  What’s Obama got?  Well, had he not acted, there may have been another civil war in the world.  As bad as that is, it isn’t an imminent risk to American security.  Which means the president did not have the Constitutional authority to do what he did.  Unlike George W. Bush in Iraq.

The Military doesn’t want Obama’s Libyan War

So he’s losing his liberal base.  But he’s still got the military establishment, doesn’t he?  As the Left well knows, they don’t care about right or wrong.  They just like to kill people and blow things up.  Right?  Not exactly.  You see, actually knowing a thing or two about war, they are not all that eager to go to war (see U.S. Military Not Happy Over Libya by Leslie H. Gelb posted 1/31/2011 on The Daily Beast).

Pentagon civilian leaders and the military brass see nothing but trouble looming as the Obama administration takes one step after another into the Libyan morass. The next step appears to be arming the Libyan rebels, a move that would inevitably entail pressures to send U.S. trainers and even more potent arms—and a move that Defense Secretary Robert Gates flat-out rejected in testimony before Congress on Thursday. “What the opposition needs as much as anything right now is some training, some command and control, and some organization,” Gates said. As for providing weapons, that is “not a unique capability for the United States, and as far as I’m concerned, somebody else can do that.”

Libyan morass?  Wow.  That’s some heavy criticism.  That’s the kind of language they used back in the day of the Vietnam War.  Which was an unwinnable morass.  Interesting, too, that liberal presidents with aggressive domestic agendas created both of these morasses.  But can Obama win his war?  Even though LBJ couldn’t win his?  Or will Obama follow LBJ’s example and not seek nor accept his party’s nomination for a second term as president?  Guess time will tell.

U.S. aircraft took the lead in junking a good chunk of the Libyan Air Force and launched devastating attacks against Libyan tanks, artillery, and other ground forces. Despite the severity of these attacks, Libyan forces survived, regained the offensive, and are now moving back toward rebel strongholds in eastern Libya. And the expectation of U.S. intelligence is that without having to face U.S. air power, Gaddafi’s troops will build further momentum. So, U.S. military officials haven’t stopped worrying about being dragged yet again into the air war.

You know, this is a lot like the Vietnam War.  Every time we pulled back the enemy advanced.  Then we’d pound them back with our superior airpower.  Until Congress stopped paying for that superior airpower.  And then you know what happened?  No?  Not familiar with our actions to protect South Vietnam?  Okay.  Look on a current map for South Vietnam to find out how that turned out.  But don’ spend too much time looking for it. Because it’s not there anymore.

The rebels won’t be able to use most arms, even relatively simply ones like anti-tank rockets and rifles, without extensive training…

Remember, underneath everything happening now are the two driving goals that President Obama set: to protect populations and to oust Colonel Gaddafi. In all likelihood, U.S. coalition partners cannot achieve these goals without U.S. jets resuming combat missions. Even with more U.S. air power, it probably won’t be possible to stop Gaddafi without using some coalition ground forces. So, pressures to do more and more will continue to lurk. All the Pentagon can do, then, is to raise tough questions (Who are those rebels we’re determined to help, could they be Muslim extremists?) to diffuse pressures on the U.S. military to do more.

If you ever wondered how Vietnam happened, here’s a good teachable moment.  JFK sent in military advisors to train the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN).  These were the ‘good guys’ in South Vietnam.  But when the very well trained and well supported North Vietnamese Army (NVA) threw them back we needed more than advisors.  We started supporting the ARVN.  Then the ARVN started supporting us as we took over more and more of the war.  Next thing we knew hundreds of thousands of U.S. ground troops were fighting it out in the jungles of Vietnam.  And the rest is history.

Barack Obama makes Jimmy Carter look Good

The last month or so hasn’t been too good for our president.  The economy is still mired in recession.  Inflation is about to join those high unemployment numbers to give us some good old-fashioned Jimmy Carter misery.  Our taxpayer TARP money found its way to Libya.  Instead of buying our troubled assets.  The Liberal base is abandoning him.  The Libyan war is less Constitutional than Bush’s Iraq War.  And appears about as winnable as the Vietnam War.

Yup.  Sucks to be him.  When he’s not on vacation, that is.

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When it Comes to the Libyan War, Obama must see George W. Bush when he Looks into the Mirror

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 30th, 2011

Dumb things and Turd Sandwiches

President Obama called what he’s doing in Libya dumb.  In 2002 when he was criticizing George W. Bush for toppling the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq.   He may not have changed much from this position.  Someone told Savannah Guthrie, NBC News, that the president used a phrase of a national security aide to describe his Libyan operations, calling them a “turd sandwich.”  You have to hand it to the president, he sure knows dumb and turd sandwiches.  Because they really describe well the Obama Doctrine in Libya.  And though it’s not a great delicacy, we the people may have to learn to enjoy this sandwich.  For we may be taking a bite from this sandwich for a very long time.

Libya to become a Recruiting Ground for al Qaeda?

First it was a no-fly zone.  Then we were attacking Qaddafi’s ground forces.  Now we’re taking it up a notch.  We may be supplying arms to the opposition forces.  And Obama has CIA operatives on the ground.  But I’m sure they’re not wearing boots.  For Obama promised there would be no boots on the ground. 

Get ready to take another bite of that sandwich.  Even though the UN Resolution 1973 did not authorize regime change, we’re sure acting like that’s what we’re doing.  And we really don’t know who the opposition is.  But what the hell?  What’s the worst that can happen in this chaotic, rapidly changing situation (see Al Qaeda’s Libya Pilgrimage by Ron Moreau & Sami Yousafzai posted 3/30/2011 on The Daily Beast)?

As debate rages in Washington over whether to arm anti-Gaddafi rebels, an exclusive report by The Daily Beast indicates al Qaeda forces are gearing up to join the rebels and seize power in Libya…

Since the anti-Gaddafi revolution began last month, al Qaeda—especially Libyan-born affiliates—have viewed the fighting as an opportunity to spread their radical Islamist ideology. Indeed, as one Afghan Taliban operative who helps facilitate the movement of al Qaeda militants between the tribal area and Pakistani cities told The Daily Beast earlier this month: “This rebellion is the fresh breeze they’ve been waiting years for. They realize that if they don’t use this opportunity, it could be the end of their chances to turn Libya toward a real Islamic state, as Afghanistan once was…”

According to the Afghan commander, al Qaeda fighters can’t believe their good luck that U.S. and NATO aircraft—the same forces that have dropped bombs on their heads in Afghanistan and Pakistan—are now raining down ordnance against Gaddafi.

You mean our actions in Libya will attract al Qaeda operatives?  Wait a minute.  Let me see if I understand this.  A country where radical Islamists were persecuted and exiled who then went abroad to get battle experience in foreign wars want to come home now because of the Obama Doctrine?  Why, that’s not good.  In fact, Obama can call his actions in Libya dumb again.  For he criticized George W. Bush for doing this in Iraq.  Recruiting al Qaeda where there was no al Qaeda.  And here is Obama.  Recruiting al Qaeda to Libya.  Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Today, along the tribal border region, al Qaeda’s thirst for more immediate news has led even top leaders like Abu Yahya al-Libi, a Libyan who serves as the movement’s senior Islamist ideologue and bin Laden’s head of operations for Afghanistan, to become almost foolhardy. The Afghan commander says that Yahya and some of his countrymen have even risked visiting villagers’ houses that have satellite television dishes on the roof to watch the latest Western and Middle Eastern news feeds from Libya. Their movements in public areas could easily expose these high value targets to human and UAV surveillance, and a deadly drone strike.

When important bad guys risk their lives for Libyan War updates you know something is afoot.

Whether Yahya himself will return to Libya remains to be seen, but speculation about what he’ll do is rife in the tribal area. “What Yahya will do is on the mind and in the words of everyone,” the Taliban commander adds.  “But I think he is probably preparing for his next move, contacting mujahideen in Libya and watching the situation in Libya…”

“They know they must tread cautiously, and not push too hard, for too much, too soon,” he says. Instead, he says, they expect to take a moderate line at first, while quietly trying to persuade rebel leaders that the preservation of Libyan sovereignty against Western “colonialists” depends on taking an anti-Israeli, anti-American line. Any move toward imposing Islamic sharia law, Yahya’s specialty, will have to come later. Still, Taliban sources say, if Yahya is successful in reaching rebel-held territory inside Libya, at least he’ll be able to operate with relative freedom, without worrying about Gaddafi’s secret police.

Oh my.  This is double plus dumb.  To play on an Orwellian phrase.  Some of us older people may have an eerie feeling of déjà vu.  Because this is how the Iranian Revolution went from democratic uprising to oppressive theocracy.  And we’re providing just the kind of environment to recruit mujahedeen.  Chaos.  Not only that, when they recruit them they may be already armed.  Because of the Obama Doctrine.  Perhaps it’s time to rethink this doctrine.

The Cities we’re Protecting are home to Libyan Jihadists?

All right, it looks like Islamist militants are coming home to Libya.  Thanks to our no-fly zone.  And ground support for the opposition.  Whoever they may be.  So what was this Islamist militant-Qaddafi relationship like?  And who was the real bad guy?  Well, if we focus on just this dynamic it appears that we may be backing the wrong horse (see Jihadist Opportunities in Libya by Scott Stewart posted 2/24/2011 on Stratfor).

Libyans have long participated in militant operations in places like Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and Iraq. After leaving Afghanistan in the early 1990s, a sizable group of Libyan jihadists returned home and launched a militant campaign aimed at toppling Gadhafi, whom they considered an infidel. The group began calling itself the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in 1995, and carried out a low-level insurgency that included assassination attempts against Gadhafi and attacks against military and police patrols.

Gadhafi responded with an iron fist, essentially imposing martial law in the Islamist militant strongholds of Darnah and Benghazi and the towns of Ras al-Helal and al-Qubbah in the Jabal al-Akhdar region… Many LIFG members fled the country in the face of the government crackdown and a number of them ended up finding refuge with groups like al Qaeda in places such as Afghanistan.

While the continued participation of Libyan men in fighting on far-flung battlefields was not expressly encouraged by the Libyan government, it was tacitly permitted. The Gadhafi regime, like other countries in the region, saw exporting jihadists as a way to rid itself of potential problems. Every jihadist who died overseas was one less the government had to worry about. This policy did not take into account the concept of “tactical Darwinism,” which means that while the United States and its coalition partners will kill many fighters, those who survive are apt to be strong and cunning. The weak and incompetent have been weeded out, leaving a core of hardened, competent militants. These survivors have learned tactics for survival in the face of superior firepower and have learned to manufacture and effectively employ new types of highly effective improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

In a Nov. 3, 2007, audio message, al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri reported that the LIFG had formally joined the al Qaeda network. This statement came as no real surprise, given that members of the group have long been close to al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden. Moreover, the core al Qaeda group has long had a large number of Libyan cadre in its senior ranks, including men such as Abu Yahya al-Libi, Anas al-Libi, Abu Faraj al-Libi (who reportedly is being held by U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay) and Abu Laith al-Libi, who was killed in a January 2008 unmanned aerial vehicle strike in Pakistan.

Oh, oh.  The rebel cities are also home to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group?  Really?  The people who were killing Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq are the people we’re now helping in Libya?  We’re going to give these people arms?  So they can, basically, continue a struggle they started long ago to overthrow Qaddafi and impose Sharia Law?  Replacing one oppressive regime with another even more oppressive regime?  Do I understand this correctly?  Because this is dumb.  And worthy of the turd sandwich metaphor.

This toppling of brutal dictators is trickier than it looks.

The Libyan government’s security apparatus carefully monitored those Libyans who passed through the crucible of fighting on the battlefield in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and then returned to Libya. Tripoli took a carrot-and-stick approach to the group similar to that implemented by the Saudi regime. As a result, the LIFG and other jihadists were unable to pose a serious threat to the Gadhafi regime, and have remained very quiet in recent years. In fact, they were for the most part demobilized and rehabilitated.

Gadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam oversaw the program to rehabilitate LIFG militants, which his personal charity managed. The regime’s continued concern over the LIFG was clearly demonstrated early on in the unrest when it announced that it would continue the scheduled release from custody of LIFG fighters.

So Libya has been struggling with a Muslim problem.  Of the radical Islamist kind.  And some of those trying to now overthrow the regime may be Islamic militants.  How about that?  Maybe that crazy bastard wasn’t lying.  Maybe there were some chards of truth in Qaddafi’s ramblings.

This deep streak of radicalism in eastern Libya brings us back to the beginning. While it seems unlikely at this point that the jihadists could somehow gain control of Libya, if Gadhafi falls and there is a period of chaos in Libya, these militants may find themselves with far more operating space inside the country than they have experienced in decades…

While Seif al-Islam, who certainly has political motives to hype such a threat, has mentioned this possibility, so have the governments of Egypt and Italy. Should Libya become chaotic and the jihadists become able to establish an operational base amid the chaos, Egypt and Italy will have to be concerned about not only refugee problems but also the potential spillover of jihadists. Certainly, at the very least the weapons looted in Libya could easily be sold or given to jihadists in places like Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, turning militancy in Libya into a larger regional problem. In a worst-case scenario, if Libya experiences a vacuum of power, it could become the next Iraq or Pakistan, a gathering place for jihadists from around the region and the world. The country did serve as such a base for a wide array of Marxist and rejectionist terrorists and militants in the 1970s and 1980s.

Refugees and jihadists spilling over Libyan borders?  Funny.  Because that’s sort of the focal point of the Obama Doctrine.  To prevent spillover.  That’s why we’re there.  To keep the region stable.  Avoid chaos.  And had we not intervened we may have just done that.  With less loss of life than we may have in this worst-case scenario.  And have a more stable Libya to boot.  But now we may have to nation-build for a third time in a Muslim country.  Or see jihadists radicalize the entire region.  In other words, turd sandwich.

Obama Doctrine or Chaos Theory?

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse in the Libyan War.  Obama Doctrine?  Truth be told there is no Obama Doctrine.  It’s chaos theory.  Without the theory.  For we sure seem to be doing a lot of things without thinking them through first.  Of course it could be worse.  If we did these things after thinking them through.  And we’re getting exactly what we expected.

Pass that sandwich.

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Obama Explains Autocratic Action in Libya was Necessary to Keep UN Legitimate

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 28th, 2011

Obama Explains the Libyan War

President Obama finally took to the television to explain what we’re doing in Libya.  He takes a dig at George W. Bush over the Iraq War.  Says this isn’t anything like the Iraq War.  And that the U.S. role will be short and sweet (see Obama: Libya Isn’t Iraq by Carol E. Lee posted 3/28/2011 on The Wall Street Journal).

During the 2008 presidential campaign,  Barack Obama became a hero of the left for his opposition to the Iraq war. Tonight, he used the eight-year-old conflict to explain how the U.N.-backed mission to protect rebels in Libya, not overthrow Col. Moammar Gadhafi, won’t result in a prolonged U.S. engagement.

“If we tried to overthrow Gadhafi by force, our coalition would splinter,” President Obama said. “We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs, and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.”

He added: “To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq.”

“[R]egime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars,” Mr. Obama said. “That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.”

Yes, we’ve been down the ‘regime-change’ road before.  And we’ve also been down the ‘no-fly-zone’ road before.  In Iraq, for example.  After the Gulf War.  Some twelve years before the Iraq War.  You see, after we threw Iraq out of Kuwait we entered into a ceasefire.  But Saddam Hussein did not behave.  Or honor many of the terms of the armistice that ended the Gulf War.  Worse, he was violently oppressing Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south that were rising up against his Sunni government.  We were hoping for regime change.  We didn’t get it.  And we didn’t try to help the Kurds or the Shiites.  For the same reasons Obama cites in the Libyan War.  Of course, the Left brutally criticized George H.W. Bush for ending the war too soon.  For not toppling the Hussein regime.  And there we were.  Watching Hussein putting down those uprisings with extreme prejudice (i.e., deadly force).  Oh, it was bad.  Like in Libya. Only worse.

The atrocities got so bad that the international community finally did something.  They established no-fly zones in the north and the south.  And maintained them for some eleven years.  Did we end them after we’ve achieved success?  No.  They ended after the Iraq War toppled Hussein from power making them moot.  You see, here’s the ugly truth.  Unless you topple the bad guy from power, those no-fly zones can never go away.  Even Bill Clinton launched an attack against Hussein while president.  Because he kept attacking the Kurds.  Even with the no-fly zone in place.

What Obama says in effect is that we’re going into Libya half-assed.  We’re not going to do anything that will have a permanent affect.  Just like after 1991 in Iraq.  And we’re leaving ourselves with an open-ended commitment that won’t end until Qaddafi dies by natural causes.  Because he ain’t going anywhere.  He’s a marked man.  And even if he finds safe sanctuary, whoever takes him in may become another Jimmy Carter and see their embassy staff taken hostage (when Carter reluctantly allowed the deposed Shah of Iran into America for medical care).

So the question remains.  Why Libya?  There’s suffering all around the world.  But we help only Libya.  Some have suggested that it was to help the Europeans protect their Libyan oil as they fear another ‘Hugo Chavez‘ nationalization of their oil assets.  Being that they made those agreements with the Qaddafi regime, I’m not sure why they would want to help the rebels trying to topple him from power.  If the Muslim Brotherhood or al-Qaeda fills the power vacuum in a post-Qaddafi Libya, you can bet that their terms on the ‘revised’ contracts won’t be as favorable to any Western economy.  So I don’t know.  It’s a stretch.  But one thing for sure Obama isn’t telling us the whole story.  There has to be a reason why Libya.  Better than the weak arguments he’s making now.

We Attacked Libya so the UN can Save Face

In making his case President Obama inadvertently attacks the role of the UN.  And tries to ease our concerns about a third war with the nation mired in recession.  And buried under a rapidly growing debt (see Obama on Libya: ‘We have a responsibility to act’ by Ben Feller posted 3/28/2011 on The Associated Press).

Citing a failure to act in Libya, he said: “The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power. The writ of the U.N. Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling its future credibility to uphold global peace and security.”

 Well, isn’t that a fact?  That that “writ of the UN Security Council” is pretty worthless unless backed by the wealth and military might of the United States?  The UN has no military.  Article 43 of Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter tried to build a UN military but no nation contributed any forces.  So the UN has no teeth.  Oh, sure, you can say NATO can fill that role.  But the bulk of NATO’s assets are whose?  That’s right.  Ours.  However you want to slice it doesn’t change this fundamental truth.  Any UN or NATO operation is only as strong and as effective as the size of the U.S. role in that operation.

Domestic politics got a nod, too, in a nation saddled in debt and embroiled over how to cut spending.

“The risk and cost of this operation – to our military and to American taxpayers – will be reduced significantly” Obama said.

The president said transferring the mission to NATO would leave the United States in a supporting role, providing intelligence, logistical support and search and rescue assistance. He said the U.S. would also use its capabilities to jam Gadhafi’s means of communication.

The U.S. in a supporting role?  Whenever has the U.S. played that part before?  We’re the John Wayne of international peace-keeping and humanitarian efforts.  We don’t get supporting roles.  Even if that’s all we want.  And the sop to the taxpayers?  This from the guy that is running trillion dollar deficits?  That’s ‘trillion’ with a ‘t’.  Not the ‘billion’ dollar deficits of Ronald Reagan that were irresponsible and bankrupting the country.  He has shown little regard to the American taxpayer.  Why should we believe him now?  He likes to spend tax dollars.  And he likes to tax. 

Fighting Illegal Wars and Cozying up to Big Corporations just isn’t for Republicans Anymore

And tax he does.  He and his progressive Democrats.  They go after rich people.  And big corporations.  Well, some of the big corporations (see 15 Tax Escape Artists by The Daily Beast posted 3/28/2011 on The Daily Beast).

As reported Friday, General Electric concluded 2010 with $14.2 billion in profits, for which the Internal Revenue Service is paying them a tax benefit of $3.2 billion, thanks to a shrewd use of U.S. tax loopholes, aggressive lobbying and favorable international tax provisions. They’re far from alone.

“Companies are becoming much more sophisticated in the way they arbitrage the U.S. tax system,” says Howard Gleckman, a resident fellow at The Urban Institute, which analyzes economic issues in the U.S. “GE is not the only one, there are many other companies doing the same thing.”

Did you catch that?  GE earned $14.2 billion in profits and did not pay any taxes.  In fact, the IRS paid them a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.    How does that make you feel about a ‘green’ corporation in tight with the Obama administration?  GE is a heavy Democrat donor.  And crony.  A big proponent of green energy.  Because they want to sell compact fluorescent lamps and windmills.  They’re so committed to Obama in going green that Jeffrey Immelt, GE CEO, leads Obama’s economic advisory board.  And yet it’s always the Republicans that are criticized for being in the pocket of the big corporations.  But when it’s Democrats, we don’t call it crony capitalism.  Go figure.

Is GE getting favorable treatment?  Perhaps. 

Critics argue that the avoidance of corporate income tax hurts the economy and hampers domestic investment and job creation, but defenders of the practices argue it’s the only way their companies can stay competitive on a global scale as the American corporate tax rate of 35 percent is one the highest in the world…

“GE is a symptom of a much bigger problem and GE management uses the tax code for their benefit,” says Gleckman. “I’m not offended by GE, I’m offended by a tax system that allows this to go on. They have an obligation to their shareholders and their workers to maximize after-tax profits.”

Of course, the irony is that GE Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt is the same person Barack Obama appointed to head the panel of external economic advisers created in 2009 to help steer the U.S. out of the economic crisis. Says Willens, “when [Immelt] was appointed to that position, people who had familiarity with GE’s tax practices had a good laugh, which are rare for tax professionals.”

Obama says our role in Libya will be limited to help the American taxpayer.  Does having the highest corporate tax rates in the world that stifle economic growth and sends jobs overseas help, too?  These tax rates are so high that it forces poor corporations to manipulate the tax code to stay competitive.  Which is okay as long as you are pouring money into Democrat coffers apparently.  Even if you outsource jobs to countries with lower tax rates.

And having the fox guard the chicken house?  In the world of Obama, there’s no conflict there.  Of course, if George W. Bush selected an oilman to lead such a board I suspect there would have been some protestation.  But Obama can do no wrong.  Although the Libyan War is now straining some of his strongest supporters.  Which should make for an interesting 2012 election.  If we have one, that is.

Going Rogue or Just in over his Head?

Special tax deals and policy influence for cronies?  Wars launched without Congressional authority or any clear idea of what exactly our national security interests are?  High taxation?  Huge deficits?  You know, there is a name for this kind of leader.  Autocrat.  Someone who does whatever he wants.  This reminds me of another leader.  You might have heard of him in the news lately.  He’s Libyan.  Goes by the name of Qaddafi.

Of course, Obama is no Qaddafi.  He’s much more conservative in dress.  And he doesn’t murder his own people.  But apart from these two things, you have to admit there are some similarities.  Both are cults of personality (before you object remember that Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize before he had a chance to do anything as president).  Friends of both get special treatment (the stimulus bill didn’t hire anyone – it went to the public sector unions and other supporters).  Both feel they’re above the law (take Obamacare, for example.  Ruled unconstitutional yet the Obama administration is still proceeding in defiance of the court’s ruling).  And they both attack their enemies (the Obama machinery bussed protesters to Wisconsin to try to prevent the elected Wisconsin Assembly from voting on the bill to restrict collective bargaining rights to public sector workers).  Oh, and even though he defied one judge (in the Obamacare ruling) he used another judge in Wisconsin to stop a law he didn’t personally like (restricting collective bargaining rights of public sector unions).

So this leaves all scratching our collective head.  Why Libya?  When you get right down to it, he must like a lot about Qaddafi.  He’s doing a lot of the same.  Only without the blood and fancy dress.  And while we’re asking questions, here’s another.  Will there be an election in 2012?  That may depend on how far his poll numbers drop.  Because there’s a limit to the number of dead people that can vote without drawing suspicion.  I’m joking, of course.  There will be an election.  Obama hasn’t gone rogue.  He’s just young, inexperienced and in over his head.  At least based on his incomprehensible actions.

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The Libyan War is the Women’s War

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 23rd, 2011

Does anyone Know Why we’re in Libya?

There’s woe and suffering all around the world.  And yet we’re not bombing all around the world.  We’re bombing Libya.  And the BIG question is why?  Why there and not other places?  Other places that have woe and suffering?  Like North KoreaSudanRwandaZimbabweSyriaYemenIranSri Lanka.  I mean, put a map on the wall and throw a dart.  Chances are that wherever it lands there will be terrible woe and suffering.  And unless that dart lands on Libya, you can bet that the U.S. is not in that country trying to stop that woe and suffering.  So why?  Why Libya?  And not the rest of the world?

Good question.  A lot of people are asking it.  Is it oil?  Well, let’s look at who they export to.  According to Reuters, the breakdown goes like this:  Italy (32%), other Europe (14%), Germany (14%), France (10%), China (10%), Spain (9%), Other (6%) and the U.S. (5%).  Ours is the smallest piece of the pie. Over half goes to Europe.  So I can see why Europe cares.  But the U.S.?  We probably spill more oil than we buy from Libya.  Clearly oil isn’t a motive.  Unless the plan is to screw our European allies and take their Libyan oil.  Then again, it was the Europeans that dragged the U.S. into this thing.  So I doubt that.  Which leaves the BIG question unanswered.  Why Libya?

Is it to foster good will in the Muslim world?  By having a U.S.-European (i.e., a non-Muslim, or, one could say, as I’m sure they’re saying in the Middle East, Christian) coalition attack oil-rich Muslim land?  You know, this sounds familiar.  I think it’s been done before.  It had a name.  Oh, what was it?  Oh yes.  The Crusades.  And you know why it sounds familiar?  Because the people who hate us in the Middle East call everything we do there a Christian Crusade.  So, no, it can’t be to foster good will.  There has to be another reason.  Has to be.  Because nothing so far makes any sense.

Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power Advise the President

So just who advised Obama to go to war in Libya?  Apparently it was the women in his administration (see What is Obama’s endgame in Libya? by David Gergen, CNN Senior Political Analyst, posted 3/20/2011 on CNN).

One irony, as a female friend put it, is that for years many of us believed that if only more women could gain power, the world would surely become more peaceful. Yet, we now see that the three people who talked Obama into using force against Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi were all women — Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power. Leading male advisers were opposed.

Interesting.  The women wanted to use force.  The men didn’t.  That’s a switch.  Like Gergen’s lady friend says, it flies in the face of everything we thought we knew about women.  It was always the men that started the wars.  And the women who had to deal with the suffering resulting from them.  But Gergen is a guy.  What are the women saying?

Passion and Emotion now Determine Foreign Policy

Well, Maureen Dowd is a woman.  And she wrote a column about these Amazon Warriors, these Lady Hawks, these Valkyries, these Durgas (see Fight of the Valkyries by Maureen Dowd posted 3/22/2011 on The New York Times).

They are called the Amazon Warriors, the Lady Hawks, the Valkyries, the Durgas.

There is something positively mythological about a group of strong women swooping down to shake the president out of his delicate sensibilities and show him the way to war. And there is something positively predictable about guys in the White House pushing back against that story line for fear it makes the president look henpecked.

It is not yet clear if the Valkyries will get the credit or the blame on Libya. But everyone is fascinated with the gender flip: the reluctant men — the generals, the secretary of defense, top male White House national security advisers — outmuscled by the fierce women around President Obama urging him to man up against the crazy Qaddafi.

How odd to see the diplomats as hawks and the military as doves.

Reluctant men?  I wonder why they were reluctant.  Were they simply not manly?  Critics often call liberal men (and Obama and his staff are liberals) less than manly.  But that moniker doesn’t apply to the generals.  To become a general usually requires combat experience.  As a junior officer.  The ones up close and personal with the actual shooting.  These officers lead charges, they don’t order them.  Before you can order them you have to lead them.  And the brass promotes the ones who survive.  It ain’t like politics.  Where money and connections can make a career.  So these generals aren’t liberals.  They’re men.  They can walk it like they talk it.  So maybe the women are just strong women born with the courage, confidence and wisdom that others gain in combat.

Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador and former Clinton administration adviser on Africa, was haunted by Rwanda. Samantha Power, a national security aide who wrote an award-winning book about genocide, was thinking of Bosnia. Gayle Smith, another senior national security aide, was an adviser to President Clinton on Africa after the Rwandan massacre. Hillary Clinton, a skeptic at first, paid attention to the other women (putting aside that tense moment during the ’08 primaries when Power called her “a monster”). She also may have had some pillow talk with Bill, whose regrets about Rwanda no doubt helped shape his recommendation for a no-fly zone over Libya.

Hell, these women aren’t Amazon Warriors.  They’re just a bunch of clueless, over-emotional women giving very dangerous advice on matters they are woefully unqualified in.  The use of force.

When President Obama listened to his militaristic muses, it gave armchair shrinks lots to muse about. As one wrote to me: “Cool, cerebral president chooses passion and emotion (human rights, Samantha, Hillary, Susan) over reason and strategic thinking (Bob Gates, Tom Donilon). Is it the pattern set up by his Mom and Michelle — women have the last word?”

And there it is.  Passion and emotions.  The female traits that will make the world a better, more peaceful place.  Only here they led to war.  And a very uncertain future.  These women have just made the world a more unsafe place.  The mission is unclear (regime change no regime change) because the mission was never rationally planned.  It was just emotional reaction.  And the need of a president to please the women in his life.  As far as foreign policy goes, it doesn’t get any worse than this.

Bombing in the name of Humanitarianism

It’s not just their emotions that make these women dangerous advisors.  They’re liberals.  Which means they don’t like the military.  They see it as nothing but a toy past presidents used to bully other nations with.  They don’t believe in projecting force to protect vital national security interests.  Or in deterrence.  But they have no problem in using that military for humanitarian purposes.  Of course, it’s easy for them to volunteer the military for these missions.  Because they have no idea what it’s like to serve in the military (see Women and War by W. James Antle, III, posted 3/23/2011 on The American Spectator).

To me, the more interesting angle in this case is the reluctance to go to war on the part of those with some familiarity with the military, and the enthusiasm for it on the part of those who have never faced war’s consequences.

Liberals criticized George W. Bush for deploying the military in combat operations when he did not serve in combat himself.  And now here are these Valkyries.  Who have never served in combat, either.    Advising the president to send the military on a poorly defined mission with no clear exit strategy.  So they can end the suffering.  And feel good about themselves.  Without any idea of the consequences that may result from this action. 

And who, pray tell, are these rebels we’re supporting?  Democracy-loving Muslims in a theocratic Middle East?  The Muslim Brotherhood?  Al Qaeda?  Iran-sponsored Shiites?  We just don’t know.  No one knows.  All we do know is that all of the ‘big bads’ in the Middle East feed on chaos.  And we just added a great big tsunami of chaos to the region.  It would be wise to remember how Iran became the Iran it is today.  Ayatollah Komeni swooped in during the chaos of their democratic uprising.  And before anyone knew it he established autocratic Sharia law.  Traded an oppressive dictatorship for a worse oppressive dictator ship.

We really need to be careful of what we ask for.  Especially in the Muslim Middle East/North Africa.  Especially when it results in less peace and stability in the region.  This is bad.  What’s worse is that the president of the United States is taking policy advice from these naïve pseudo-warriors.  Makes one fear what’s next on the foreign policy plate.

A Sad Chapter in American Foreign Policy

Of course, while the Lady Hawks feel good about what they’ve done, the Muslim world sees Muslim civilians dying from ‘Christian’ missile-strikes on their oil-rich land.  Will the Muslims love us for this?  For liberating these masses from a tyrant?  Well, do they love us for liberating millions of Muslims in Iraq?  In Afghanistan?  No.  They don’t.  They harbor deep suspicions.  Because we’re still there.  As we will no doubt be in Libya for a long time to come.

Libya was not a threat to vital U.S. security interests.  After we invaded Iraq, Qaddafi behaved lest he was next on the invasion list.  We had no reason to fear his brand of terrorism anymore.  We do now.  He’s pissed.  And cornered.  Who knows what money he has hidden.  And what connections he has outside of Libya. 

Yes, the suffering was bad.  But as bad as in Sudan?  Rwanda?  Zimbabwe?  Why Libya?  And not them?  Or was Libya just first?  And these are the next countries the Lady Hawks will advise the president to bomb for humanitarian reasons?  Let’s hope not.  But after Libya, anything is possible.

This is indeed a sad chapter in American foreign policy.

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Competency and Constitutionality in Question in Obama’s Libyan War

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 21st, 2011

The Libyan War as Popular as the Iraq War

The attacks on Libya have been authorized by the UN.  There is multilateral support.  And a coalition of the willing.  So we’re standing on the side of moral authority.  And legality.  Unlike the Iraq War.  At least this is what the supporters of this Libyan operation are saying.  And they speak with a united voice.  Or do they (see EDITORIAL: Obama’s illegal war by The Washington Times posted 3/18/2011 on The Washington Times)?

Five Security Council member states sat out the vote, including permanent members Russia and China, in addition to Germany, India and Brazil. China in particular objected to any action that would compromise Libya’s sovereignty, but did not veto the resolution. This may have been a political move, since the abstaining countries are now in a position to raise principled objections to whatever happens once force is utilized. To claim the United States forged an international consensus seems premature when Resolution 1973 did not have the support of countries representing 42 percent of the world’s population.

Russia, China, Germany, India and Brazil oppose this multilateral action?  And that 42%?  It appears that Libya at best may match the Iraq War in popularity.

Very Little Arab Participation in this Arab Matter

All right, we can expect some of this dissent.  But what about one of our allies.  One of the coalition of the willing (see The House of Commons reacts to Libya assault by Peter McHugh posted 3/21/2011 on the UK’s Channel 4 News)?

[The Prime Minister] was just seven minutes into his defence before the first doubt appeared. How would he avoid “mission creep” asked the SNP’s Angus Robertson. Politicians on all sides now use military phrases as short hand for much more serious questions and what he really wanted to know was how do we avoid the Iraq experience when George W Bush said the war was over in days but thousands were to die in the unplanned years that followed…

He said the campaign against Gaddafi was well supported but only Qatar,out of all the arab states were committing troops. Starting a war was easy, said Dennis Skinner, ending it much harder especially if we did not know what would mark the end.

The unease continued to expose itself in a series of interruptions. “What about the £230m of arms we had sold to Libya last year?” asked one MP and “What about Yemen and Bahrain?” said Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn. Would the Prime Minister resign if British “boots” were ever on the ground in Libya?

The UK and France are the two big European nations in charge of this thing.  And one of them is already having a lot of second thoughts.  They’re worried about mission creep.  It becoming another Iraq.  And for a “well supported” mission, there’s only one Arab state on board.  Strange, for it is Arab killing Arab in Libya.  And the Arab League supported the UN resolution to create the no-fly zone.  This lack of Arab participation can be unsettling for the coalition.  For without Arab participation, it can look like European Christians fighting Muslims on oil-rich land.  And that just won’t be good for the mission.

The Nobel Peace Prize Winner Initiates War

Across the pond, Republicans and Democrats alike are questioning the Libyan action.  Some of the stronger criticism may be coming from Republicans (see Rep. Roscoe Bartlett Says President Obama’s Unilateral Choice to Order U.S. Military Force Against Qadhafi is an Affront to Our Constitution by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett posted 3/21/2011 on bartlett.house.gov).

“The United States does not have a King’s army. President Obama’s unilateral choice to use U.S. military force in Libya is an affront to our Constitution. President Obama’s administration has repeated the mistakes of the Clinton administration concerning bombing in Kosovo and the George W. Bush administration concerning invading Iraq by failing to request and obtain from the U.S. Congress unambiguous prior authorization to use military force against a country that has not attacked U.S. territory, the U.S. military or U.S. citizens. This is particularly ironic considering then-Senator Obama campaigned for the Democratic nomination based upon his opposition to President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.

Some serious charges there.  But is it only partisanship?  I mean, right now, President Obama isn’t all that popular these days with his war on Libya.  He’s letting down some of his most avid supporters.  Who are no doubt stunned.  Their Nobel Peace Prize winner initiating war?  How can this be?

The Russians Call the Coalition Christian Crusaders after Libya’s Oil

Remember when Hillary Clinton went to Russia with that button?  To reset Russian-American relations?  They got the Russian translation wrong on the button.  But the Russians still praised the Obama administration for the effort.  But they’re not praising him anymore (see Russian Duma Leader Wants Obama Stripped of Nobel Peace Prize by Kenneth Rapoza posted 3/21/2011 on Forbes).

The controversial leader of the Russian Liberal Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky,  said in a statement on Monday that he will ask the Nobel Committee to strip President Barack Obama of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Zhirinovsky said in the letter that the prize, awarded in 2009 for Obama’s historic presidential victory and his work on nuclear non proliferation, was now hypocritical in light of recent missile strikes in Libya…

“These developments in Libya are another outrageous act of aggression by NATO forces and, in particular, the United States,” he wrote, calling it a “colonial policy” with the goal to control Libyan oil…

Zhirinovsky’s protest to the Nobel Committee is most likely a cry in the wilderness.

However, Russian officials have stated no interest in military adventures to punish Gadhafi for waging a civil war against anti-government forces. On Monday, The Economic Times of India reported Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin calling the airstrikes on Libya a “medieval call for crusades.”

Strip the Nobel Peace Prize?  You could say that the missile strikes are a far cry from what he did to win the Peace Prize.  Which was nothing.  He was elected in 2008.  Took office in 2009.  Not a whole lot of time to do anything.  But Zhirinovsky is a small player in Russia these days.  It doesn’t really matter what he says.  Putin is the power in that country.  And he called Obama’s airstrikes a “medieval call for crusades.”

I think we’re going to need another button.

Obama Attacked for Attacking his own Kind

And it gets worse.  Even some of his most ardent supporters are turning on the president (see Farrakhan To Obama: “Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?” by Alan Colmes posted 3/21/2011 on Liberal Land).

You’re a liar and a hypocrite, and I warn my brother don’t let these wicked demons move you in a direction that will let you absolutely ruin your future with your people in Africa and throughout the world…My advice would be, why don’t you organize a group of respected Americans and ask for a meeting with Qaddafi? You can’t order him to step down and get out. Who the hell do you think you are, that you can talk to a man that built a country over 42 years, and ask him step down and get out? Can anybody ask you?

Your people?  Why, that sounds a bit racist.  His people in Africa is code for black.  His people throughout the world is code for Muslim.  Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, is slamming Obama for attacking his black brothers.  And his Muslim brothers.  Even though Obama is a Christian.  Confusing, yes, but for whatever reason Muslims around the world (even Gaddafi looks at him as a son) have adopted this Christian as one of their own.

Mission and Command Structure Poorly Defined

So despite all the talk about a multilateral coalition of the willing, the actions against Libya are pretty unpopular.  Which means support will probably not last long.  So they better get in fast.  Complete the mission with all possible speed and efficiency.  Declare mission accomplished.  And get out.  Shouldn’t be too hard (see Confusion Over Who Leads Libya Strikes, and for How Long by Steven Erlanger posted 3/21/2011 on The New York Times).

As the military operation continued over Libya on Monday, there was some confusion about which country or organization is actually leading it, and for how long. France, Britain and the United States are in charge of their own operations, which each have different code names.

The participants are being “coordinated” by the United States, but not commanded by it, according to the French Defense Ministry. The Americans, with the most assets, seem to be the lead coordinator, but Washington has said it wants to step back after the initial phase and have NATO take charge of maintaining a no-fly zone and arms embargo.

Britain wants NATO to take over but France does not, and Italy is threatening to rethink its participation unless NATO takes command.

Okay, so there is some confusion about the command structure.  But if France is the only holdout in turning over command to NATO we should be able to make a persuasive case to them.  Then that problem will be solved.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said in Brussels on Monday that “the Arab League does not wish the operation to be entirely placed under NATO responsibility…

Turkey is also reluctant to have NATO take charge, since it is the only Muslim member of the alliance, has opposed the use of force in Libya and was excluded from a Saturday planning meeting in Paris. But Turkey, which has kept lines open to the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, is likely to allow NATO to run the operation as long as it does not invade Libya with any ground forces or occupy the country.

Okay, that’s a bigger problem.  The whole Arab world is against NATO assuming command of operations.  Perhaps the British and the French can run the coalition.

Washington may be willing to have France and Britain run the operation as a coalition, but that would be hard for the two countries to do without using NATO assets for command and control, most of which belong to the United States. But Washington has never been willing to put its troops under the command of any other nation, one reason that even in NATO, the Supreme Commander Europe, is always an American.

Good night nurse.  Did anyone think this through?  Before we committed to military operations?  The coalition will fall apart before the popular support for the war does.  Command and control issues.  Mission uncertainty (regime change or no regime change).  If we’re this unclear now that we’re in a shooting war, exactly what clarity was there when we committed to the use of force?

Obama says Libyan Civil War is a US Security Threat

Well, the President explains why in a letter to Congress (see Obama explains Libya mission to Congress by Greg Sargent posted 3/21/2011 on The Washington Post).

Qadhafi’s continued attacks and threats against civilians and civilian populated areas are of grave concern to neighboring Arab nations and, as expressly stated in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, constitute a threat to the region and to international peace and security. His illegitimate use of force not only is causing the deaths of substantial numbers of civilians among his own people, but also is forcing many others to flee to neighboring countries, thereby destabilizing the peace and security of the region. Left unaddressed, the growing instability in Libya could ignite wider instability in the Middle East, with dangerous consequences to the national security interests of the United States.

Threatening the United States?  Really?  Losing Egypt to the Muslim Brotherhood could threaten our security.  Losing Bahrain to Iran-friendly Shiite control could threaten our security.  But Libya?  While we have suffered at the hands of Gaddafi, it was more tit for tat.  When he retaliated after receiving a military ass-kicking from the US.  His weapon of choice?  Terrorism.  He blew up a Berlin disco frequented by American Servicemen.  And blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.  If the pattern follows, we are at greater danger by our action.  Inaction would have been the safer bet for American security.

Note the mention of the “consequences to the national security interests of the United States.” Some Dems are arguing that Obama needs Congressional authorization under the War Powers Resolution, which only allows the President to initiate military action without Congress if America is under attack or under serious threat.

Indeed, Dennis Kucinich is citing this quote from Obama himself back in 2007: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” Obama’s insistence that our national security is at stake if Gaddafi is not repelled by force tacitly asserts the President’s authority to invade without Congressional authorization.

Not only are we not safer, there are serious questions about the constitutionality of Obama’s actions.

George W. Bush more Constitutional than Barack Obama

The United Nations Participation Act (UNPA) of 1945 is U.S. law governing our actions with the United Nations (UN).  It defines what the president’s authority is when working with the UN.  And it’s not much (see The false defenders of Obama’s war in Libya by Michael Lind posted 3/21/2011 on Salon).

The only rational way to interpret these sections of the UNPA is to read them as authorizing the president, without congressional approval, to supply fewer than a thousand noncombatant troops to the U.N. for Article 41 actions short of war, and also to negotiate agreements to supply armed forces to the U.N. under Article 43 — but only with prior congressional approval. In Article 42 situations, like the situation in Libya, where the U.N. Security Council calls on members to go to war, the UNPA did not grant the president to act without congressional approval — presumably because the Congress that passed the UNPA understood that all Article 42 enforcement actions approved by the Security Council would have to be separately and independently approved by congressional declarations of war before the U.S. could take part.

Far from delegating the president vast discretion to wage war in pursuit of U.N. requests, the U.N. Participation Act jealously guards the constitutional prerogatives of Congress.

In other words, the Constitution grants war making powers to Congress.  Not the UN.  Or the President.

The Constitution cannot be amended by statute. It cannot be amended by treaty. It cannot be amended by precedent. It cannot be amended by public opinion poll. It cannot be amended by election result. It cannot be amended by humanitarian pity. The U.S. Constitution can only be amended by the procedures set forth in Article V of the Constitution itself.

People are free, if they wish, to propose a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would read as follows: “The President of the United States shall have power to initiate war on his own authority, without the prior approval of Congress; provided, however, that Congress may refuse to appropriate funding for the continuation of a war the president has begun.” Such an amendment would create the situation that many people falsely claim to be the case today. Until such an amendment is ratified and goes into effect, however, the law of the land remains what it has always been, and President Obama’s war in Libya, even if it is moral, prudent and legally authorized under international law by the Security Council, is plainly unconstitutional.

Obama is president of the United States.  He swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.  He did not swear an oath to the UN.  His authority is defined in the U.S. Constitution.  And it is clear he exceeded his constitutional authority.

Obama supporters are just exasperated to no end.  Because they know that George W. Bush went to war in Iraq with more Constitutional authority.  And this fact is just killing them.

The Libyan War already a Mess

The international community is not united in the attacks on Libya.  There is dissent within the coalition.  Uncertainty about mission.  Exit strategy.  Disagreement over command and control.  And legality.  It’s a mess.  It begs the question why Obama would do this to himself.  Especially with the 2012 elections around the corner.  He looks at the world through political eyes.  One can only assume that he has a plan to make this work to his advantage.  But it sure is hard to see how from here. 

Or is it just like JFK’s/LBJ’s whiz kids during the Vietnam War?  Completely out of their element.  Inept.  And making one bad decision after another.  Guess we’ll find out at the 2012 election.

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