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...To The Shores Of Tripoli

Some times it just doesn't pay to procrastinate.

I've been meaning to write something about Libya all week, but just haven't gotten around to it before circumstances made my ideas obsolete.

First, I wanted to discuss the problems of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. The logistics would be a huge challenge -- we need to first take out most of Libya's anti-air defenses, then keep our own fighters over their territory to shoot down any aircraft Qaddafi sends up. And that, in turn, requires significant support -- tankers to keep the fighters fueled, AWACS to spot Libyan aircraft, and so on. Further, Libya wasn't using its air power to a great degree -- the main fighting was on the ground.

Next, I wanted to talk about the case against intervening. Yeah, Qadaffi's ordered the deaths of a lot of Americans, and to me there's no statute of limitations on that. And it's quasi-personal for me -- my fellow New Hampshirite and blog-buddy Giacomo lost his brother in Pan Am 103. But it's been quite a few years since he's acted against us, directly or indirectly. Hell, even now, he's not going after any of his neighbors -- the fighting is strictly an internal affair. The US should weigh very carefully getting involved in a matter that does not threaten us, our interests, or our allies. And on that scale, Libya fails.

That piece got tossed in the dumpster when the first cruise missiles went in. So I started on Plan C -- talking about how Democratic presidents tend to think of such things as cruise missiles and drones as an extension of foreign policy, and not weapons of war. That's fine and dandy -- as long as you don't look at things from the perspective of the target. If they're getting their assets blown up and people killed, that's an act of war to them -- and in the eyes of international law.

So we're waging war on Libya. We are, in fact, at war with Libya. That simply isn't open to debate.

Nor is the legality. Under the War Powers Act, the president can engage in military action without Congressional approval. All he has to do is notify Congressional leadership within 48 hours after it begins -- and he, presumably, did that. (Considering they've made it public almost instantly, I think that's a safe presumption. For all the flaws of the Obama administration, one they do not have is a shortage of lawyers.) And he can carry out combat operations for up to 90 days without Congressional approval.

But that was all based on the theory that Obama was playing it safe with his attacks, and not directly putting American lives at risk. Apparently to liberals, it's not "war-war" as long as we're using unmanned weapons systems like cruise missiles and drones, and not putting real live Americans in harm's way.

That piece bit the big one this morning, when it came out we'd also used Stealth bombers in the attacks. Real American warplanes, with real American pilots, invading Libyan airspace and dropping bombs on Libyan soil.

There are a lot of good arguments for why we shouldn't be doing this. And I am quite prepared to make a lot of them, because I think it is a mistake. For one, I find it deeply troubling that Obama acted in response to the request of our allies and the sanction of the UN -- but without the consent of Congress and making the case to the American people. His first duty is not to NATO or the UN, but the Constitution and our nation -- and it looks like we got blown off on this matter.

But that ship has sailed. We're at war with Libya.

So while I didn't agree with this war, I'm now fully behind it. We've started it, we need to end it -- and we need to win it. As Obama said about a week ago, Qadaffi's got to go. And we need to do whatever is necessary to achieve that.

One of the most dangerous things an authority figure can do is to be caught bluffing. Once a threat is issued, it must be carried out -- it can not be allowed to be shown to be empty.

I learned that a long time ago, on a much smaller scale, as an editor here. I have the responsibility to enforce the rules here, and the power to edit and delete comments -- as well as ban commenters. I use that power very, very sparingly -- but I do use it.

And once I threaten to use it, I have no choice but to carry it out if challenged. Because if I don't, then I have forfeited my authority.

I've seen it at other blogs. At one, the owner repeatedly declared that he was sick and tired of his commenters engaging in personal attacks on each other, and would ban those who continued. (This was a liberal blog, so I -- naturally -- was usually hostile to the owner's views.) Well, several of the commenters started getting personal with me. I noted it to the owner, and reminded him of his threat. He ignored it. So I started hitting back personally, and quite viciously. Nothing happened. So I figured I'd really push the envelope -- I called him out for failing to enforce his rules, even on me, and publicly called him "a spineless, no-balled wimp."

No one got banned, no comments got deleted, and he was revealed as an utterly worthless wimp. I haven't commented there since. He bluffed, I called it, and he lost all authority over his own blog.

The same principle holds on the international stage. If you bluff, and you're caught bluffing, you've lost credibility. A lot of credibility. And it takes a hell of a lot to get it back -- if at all.

So Qadaffi's got to go. By any means necessary.

Afterwards, though, we -- the American people -- need to have a little chat about our employee -- Barack Obama -- about his decision-making processes and priorities and loyalties...

But not now.


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Comments (22)

No war for oil!... (Below threshold)
Ellie Light:

No war for oil!

Ellie, the only reason I ha... (Below threshold)

Ellie, the only reason I haven't banned your ass for that comment is that I'm laughing so hard, I can't control the mouse well enough to click on the right buttons...


"Qadaffi's got to go."... (Below threshold)

"Qadaffi's got to go."

It would be a lot less costly if we just sent some in to KILL him.

The rest would soon fall in line.

Too bad Barry doesn't have the balls. Because he'd be able to say "Hey! Dinnerjacket! You're next!".

JT, she was undoubtedly out... (Below threshold)

JT, she was undoubtedly out in Pioneer Square earlier this weekend at the anti-war protests. It must have been tough for all of the "hundreds" who turned out, but somehow they managed to totally ignore Libya and Barack Obama. Maybe it was because they were mainly UNION protestors. Hmmmm.

Mohammedans killing mohamme... (Below threshold)

Mohammedans killing mohammedans in Libya (or elsewhere)? I say that's a good thing!

Neocons (really neoliberals) believe in "world community", believe in world government and thus believe in intervening in everywhere in the world at every opportunity.

Plus, they uniformly believe in mass immigration, which is bringing high humbers of Mohammedans to our country.

I favor the "separation" policy with the Islamic world and of course, favor stopping or at least reducing Islamic immigration.

More mosques built in the USA mean:
1) more terrorism
2) the spread of Sharia Law
3) subjugation of women
4) honor killings of wives and daughters

Immigration is why Sharia is spreading here. Wake up neocons!

So, we are on the side of t... (Below threshold)

So, we are on the side of the rebels until they are in charge then we revert to an Iraq/Afghan hate America regime.

Seems like an attempt by the sand wedger to look decisive lieu of a 2012 mock rerun.

"No war for oil"


The real object of the no f... (Below threshold)

The real object of the no fly zone is to have free skies to take out armor and troop transport. Daffy duck will be very limited in projecting force across the country. If we split the country east and west, we can keep oil flowing in the east and stop it in the west as well as preventing military supply. An army needs fuel and ammunition. I do not know if he has a refinery but if so it is easy to disable without destroying it.

Arab League is already deno... (Below threshold)

Arab League is already denouncing the bombing, saying "we only wanted a no-fly zone, not bombing civilians." So much for enhancing our image and getting thanks.

This will probably be a bloody fiasco with less than zero benefit to the USA. I'm hitting the streets to protest if they want to put our troops in. Enough with the wars. Maybe Gates and Mullen will resign in protest.

Notice the irony here? Obam... (Below threshold)

Notice the irony here? Obama can send an illegal CIA hit squad after an American citizen for being a terrorist, but doesn't send one after a world wide enemy, that every sane nation despises. He lets the French do all of the dirty work and then when the outcome is the way he wants it, he will claim all the credit for his foresight. If this whole affair goes badly for him, we all know who will be blamed. If you all guessed George W Bush, you all would be right on the money. Goes to show how mixed up our employees really are.

If you are ambivalent about... (Below threshold)
Andrew X:

If you are ambivalent about this operation, you have nothing to fear. Admiral Mike Mullen has stated that "overthrowing Gadaffi is not the goal".

So the mission is perfectly attuned to ambivalence, you will be happy to note.

Now I would think if you really solidly hammer a fascist Arab dictator militarily with an international coalition, send him scurrying from the field in humiliation, and encourage his people to rise against him.... I guess all you have to do is sit back and let the rebellion do the work, since it would now all be a foregone conclusion.

I don't see how it could be any other way.

I just wish there were some kind of precedent, some lesson from the past that we could draw on, to approach this question. But I search and search, and no luck I'm afraid.

I guess this all is just entirely unprecedented.

Jay, without giving his opi... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jay, without giving his opinion (that would be risky), spends columns lambasting Obama's dithering as to whether the US should support and lead a military action. Then when the US starts a bombing offensive to enforce a no -fly zone, Jay now dithers as to whether the US is doing the right thing. Typical conservative!!!

You nailed that on the butt... (Below threshold)

You nailed that on the button, Mr. Crickmore.

It's not that they hate Obama's skin color or anything -- honest.

If George Bush had waited - the "conservative" would have said there's no reason to rush in.

And if Gorge Bush had then committed to the same course of action as Obama -- why then the "conservative" would have said it was a reasoned, cautious approach.

But I don't think Jay and his "conservative" pals realize that the only consistency they have is that they hate Obama and everything he does.

And maybe, just maybe, they're too stupid to realize why.

"Under the War Powers Act, ... (Below threshold)

"Under the War Powers Act, the president can engage in military action without Congressional approval."

Only under certain conditions.

"(c) Presidential executive power as Commander-in-Chief; limitation
The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to
(1) a declaration of war,
(2) specific statutory authorization, or
(3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces. "

Libya hasn't attacked us.

Furthermore, the reporting requirements are quite specific: "a report, in writing, setting forth—
(A) the circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed Forces;
(B) the constitutional and legislative authority under which such introduction took place; and
(C) the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement."

Calling it in from Rio isn't adequate.

"a spineless, no-balled wim... (Below threshold)

"a spineless, no-balled wimp."

The USA, now, in a nutshell. Sorry to say.

One the of question ... (Below threshold)

One the of question that was asked repeatedly is what happens next.

After Daffy leaves or is dead what will happen. Does the UN make sure there free elections? Who are the Rebels what do they support? What id they impose Sharia and start to brutalize women. Do say it ok for them to hurt their own citizens?
Does the west have to pay for damage done to the country?
Will the rebels pay for the cost of the battle?

Why not launch raid against... (Below threshold)

Why not launch raid against the Pirates that would seem to me to be a more pressing concern. We have lawless nation that are prying on ships on the high seas.

Steve Crickmore wrote:... (Below threshold)

Steve Crickmore wrote:

Then when the US starts a bombing offensive to enforce a no -fly zone, Jay now dithers as to whether the US is doing the right thing.

The UN Resolution doesn't speak only of bombing to enforce the no-fly zone, it speaks of using "all necessary measures . . . to protect civilians."

In his talk about military action, Obama spoke of "democratic values" and "support for the political and economic change that the people of the region deserve."

So, I'm unclear on what the objective is and how we'll know when it's been accomplished. Are we on board with the "all necessary means" language in the UN resolution? And I'm concerned about why Obama talked about "democratic values" and "change" in his little talk.

Is it me or does no one und... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Is it me or does no one understand what a no fly zone is?

In order to establish a no fly zone you need to eliminate the subject country's air defense system. That means bombing radar and anti aircraft installations. That means bombing communications hubs.

In other words it means bombing a nation and maybe missing or misidentifying your targets.

We have to wipe out the air defenses so our aircraft can have freedom to go anywhere they need to destroy Libyan aircraft violating the ban.

What I find interesting is that the left is more pissed off about obama possibly bombing muslims than they are about him violating the constitution.

The hypocrisy of the left g... (Below threshold)

The hypocrisy of the left getting themselves involved in yet another middle eastern oil war (this time one that they cant blame on Bushitler) is almost entertaining enough to make up for the indecision that got us here in the first place.

Personally, I wouldn't waste the jet fuel on any of them - http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/32504868#32504868 - as far as Im concerned, they still owe the US an airliner full of american citizens.

But, I wouldn't have minded terribly if a crate of stinger missiles would have accidentally fallen of a C130 as it accidentally flew over a Libyan rebel camp.

This whole thing is a mess.... (Below threshold)
Anon Y. Mous:

This whole thing is a mess. What is our goal, something on the order of Iraq after Gulf 1? Are we going to spend the next ten years enforcing a no fly zone, while forces in Libya keeps shooting at us? If not, then what's the end game? The White House has said that regime change is not one of the goals of the no fly zone. So, what does need to happen.

The War Powers Act is unconstitutional. Congress cannot change the constitution via legislation, and that's just what the WPA does. But, leaving that aside for the moment, the WPA gives the President 60 days of action before he must get congressional approval. Is Obama going to go seek approval prior to the 60 day window closing? He spent all those weeks dithering before he committed our forces. Couldn't he have used that time to go to Congress? Going to war without the approval of the American people is a serious mistake, and something Obama should be impeached over.

If Gaddafi stops using his air power, and instead just uses his ground forces, then what do we do? Just patrol the skies while the tanks keep rolling? How does that make sense? We monitor the slaughter of Gaddafi's enemies?

WoopOnce again you... (Below threshold)
retired military:


Once again you mention Obama's race? What is this fixation you have with it?

Noone else has mentioned it. Why you? In every post? Could it be you are prejudiced? Could it be that you feel that the color of his skin is a reason for hatred? If so it is in your mind and not anyone else's that has posted on this thread or any other thread where you have spread your race bating hatred.

Ease up on woop, rm. That's... (Below threshold)

Ease up on woop, rm. That's all he's got. And he still thinks his magic words have power -- if he keeps saying them, over and over, eventually they will work their magic and silence us.

He shouldn't be smacked around. He should be pitied.

OK, I tried. I really did. Feel free to smack him around all you like.







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