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June 24, 2011
More bombs awayBy Greyhawk
President Obama explains why he doesn't need congressional approval to participate in the Libyan Civil War:
The President is of the view that the current U.S. military operations in Libya are consistent with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require further congressional authorization, because U.S. military operations are distinct from the kind of "hostilities" contemplated by the Resolution's 60 day termination provision. U.S. forces are playing a constrained and supporting role in a multinational coalition, whose operations are both legitimated by and limited to the terms of a United Nations Security Council Resolution that authorizes the use of force solely to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under attack or threat of attack and to enforce a no-fly zone and an arms embargo.
(That's the unclassified report - there's also a secret one containing "information relating to U.S. military operations" in Libya that we won't see.) I'm a bit concerned by the potential interpretation of that "legitimated by" (or a congressional non-response to that) as acknowledging the UN or any coalition as a higher authority than Congress. I'm sure that's only what it says, not what it means (so it's similar to the US Constitution in that regard; see Second Amendment for an example) and obviously that bit about "supporting" (vice constrained) is the key, right?
If all that legalese confuses you as much as it does me, maybe this line a "senior administration official told ABC News" will help:
"The US role is one of support," the official said, "and the kinetic pieces of that are intermittent."
But that "legitimizing" approval's an interesting thing - as it brings with it the constraint: "the use of force solely to protect civilians." Except at this point in time, that assertion is laughable - and there can't be anyone left in the world who can actually believe it. Witness Hillary Clinton's comments in support of the president's efforts in Libya:
I don't think there's any doubt in anyone's mind that Qadhafi and the people around him have their backs against the wall.... But the bottom line is, whose side are you on? Are you on Qadhafi's side or are you on the side of the aspirations of the Libyan people and the international coalition that has been created to support them? For the Obama Administration, the answer to that question is very easy.
For some reason I can't read that as a defense of protecting civilians, something that seems better defended by the simple phrase "we're just protecting civilians - how can you oppose that?" Of course, the UN is still pretending we're just protecting civilians in much the same way the administration is just pretending we're protecting civilians per UN mandate in official written justifications for our actions. Therefore it will be interesting to see if any administration officials will abandon that pretense in their congressional testimony in support of our support to kinetic activity constrained to protecting civilians mission in Libya and follow Hillary's "hey, we're kicking Qaddafi's ass here - you're either with us or with the terrorists" format. (A line even President Bush didn't apply to his domestic opponents.)
No secret number two: the Libyan Civil War has driven oil prices up (though President Obama likes to blame "speculators") - a predictable impact of the loss of the Libyan supply. (Hey - the whole thing was supposed to be over in a week...) So if you believe Italy is suddenly going wobbly on Libya based on humanitarian grounds four months after losing almost a quarter of their oil supply - "with the government in Rome warning that it has ...enough oil to last 90 days" then you're what certain Chicagoans I know call an easy mark. Of course, Italy (and most of the rest of NATO) still have to get oil somewhere, which drives up prices for them and everyone else, unless offset by reduced demand elsewhere...
Which brings us to "it will be interesting to see if..." number two: it will be interesting to see if Italy continues to express its profound humanitarian concerns now that President Obama (in an amazing coincidence) has opened the US strategic oil reserves to "keep pump prices in the United States down this summer," since that will (coincidentally) reduce demand on the global supply. (Why didn't he just make the speculators lower their prices, you ask? Easy answer: Hey, are you with us, or the terrorists?)
Lastly (for today) on this topic: "Libya is a 'dumb war'" says Glenn Reynolds, "because it's halfhearted, half-assed, and run by committee, and the President can't even articulate the national interest involved."
On points: dumb - yes, halfhearted - yes, half-assed - yes, committee - yes... but as for the President, although I disagree with it, and it's certainly obscure, I thought he articulated the national interest quite well:
It is in America's national interest because nobody has a bigger stake in the Middle East than does the United States of America.
Hillary's and you're either with us or against us makes a nice companion point to that.
Some might argue his statement wasn't as clear and articulate as my interpretation above, but (to use a much more well-known recent quote as comparison) I say it was at least as clear - if obviously not as newsworthy - as Sarah Palin's description of Paul Revere's ride. If that's not articulate enough for you, you're obviously with the terrorists.
Update: never say "lastly (for today)" before 4PM on a Friday:
The House delivered a surprising split decision on Libya Friday: Voting against authorizing the use of American forces there and then, an hour later, refusing to limit funding for the mission.
Apparently a whole lotta Democrats and a handful of Republicans voted against the war but in favor of funding it, (update: not accurate - see here) so President Obama's Dynamic Fear Train of History will continue chugga chugga choo chooing along. (I've heard of people being "against the war but for the troops," but this is the first time I recall anyone saying they were "against the war but for the cost.")
I guess this means the troops will continue to get their combat pay; I'm glad the "not combat" fraud was never extended to screwing them out of that.
Posted by Greyhawk / June 24, 2011 3:34 PM | Permalink
Last Friday the House voted on Libya - twice. The first was a Bill authorizing U.S. participation in the civil war there. It failed. However, the second vote was on a Bill limiting the use of funds to support our now-unauthorized participation in the L... Read More
If you'd bet me a dollar at the beginning of this year that the United States would jump into another country's civil war based in part on a domino theory argument I'd have taken that bet. I'd owe you a dollar now - but before I handed it over I'd con... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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