Mar 22 2011
America has lost its moral compass over Libya. I watched The Factor last night (probably for the last time) and reacted in revulsion as Bill O’Reilly made the same claim all dictators and mass murderers begin with – the end justifies the means. He went on and on about the Lockerbie bombing, a terrorist act from over two decades ago, and how this act was sufficient reason to trash the UN’s Charter and America’s Constitution.
Short sighted, arrogant and stupid. And then to watch someone I admire follow ‘Ol Bill down the tubes (Karl Rove) I realized that America had lost its moral bearing in another slickly crafted ride down the slippery slope.
As I mentioned before, the Libyan emergency was ignited by loose lips in Berlin, Paris, London and Washington DC. The leaders of these so called beacons of democracy called for Qadaffi to step down – in essence giving the green light for protesters to turn into armed rebels. George H. W. Bush made this same mistake once in Iraq, igniting an uprising in the South which culminated in a bloody crack down by Saddam Hussein while we sat by and watched the carnage.
Sadly, President Bush knew better than to compound his loose lips mistake with military invasion of a sovereign country. I knew it probably ate his soul to see what transpired. He had hoped the masses would be strong enough to throw off the tyrant. Sadly we have not learned much from Nazi Germany, Communist Russia and China, Pol Pot, Hussein, the Balkans and every other example of totalitarian rule. A strong and brutal leader can easily muster enough carnage to hold back the people of Main Street.
Today it seems even easier to stand by and watch the country so many fought and died for disappear in a sea of inaction. Let me be clear here, the manufactured (accidentally or deliberately) calamity in Libya is not sufficient excuse to throw out our constitution. There is no end that justifies assassinating our country. Mass murderers, child rapists, greedy businessmen and terrorists have all been dealt with under our constitution. The mess in Libya is not a legitimate exception.
The Washington Times has a good read on this, at least from violating the UN Charter:
Under its own rules, however, the United Nations cannot legally authorize military action to shape the internal affairs of member states. Article 2 section 7 of the U.N. charter states that, “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter.” Chapter VII of the charter, which enumerates U.N. intervention powers, applies only to international breaches of the peace. The December 1981 U.N. “Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention and Interference in the Internal Affairs of States” reaffirmed this principle with its solemn declaration that, “No State or group of States has the right to intervene or interfere in any form or for any reason whatsoever in the internal and external affairs of other States.”
That’s right sports fans, UN Resolution 1973 authorizing military bombardment in Libya is illegal. Except there is no UN Supreme Court to take this violation to, nor are there any other checks or balances on the UN. It just rewrote its rules by fiat in a rush to fix a mess started by France, Germany, Britain and American leaders. Just because these loose lips ignited the carnage does not mean they can use the UN to take over Libya. But that is what is happening.
And then what? We don’t even know what the rebels are fighting for!
Worst yet, President Obama (supposed law professor) used an improper UN resolution to illegally commit our nation to war without due process or due cause. There was no imminent threat to the US or its citizens, the imminent threat was to the Libyan rebels. Therefore there is no way to invoke the war powers act. Thus Obama had to go to Congress to get support for this bombardment of a sovereign nation.
I tend to agree on many fronts with Josh Marshall at TPM on this:
It’s not clear to me how the best case scenario can be anything more than our maintaining a safe haven in Benghazi for the people who were about to be crushed because they’d participated in a failed rebellion. So Qaddafi reclaims his rule over all of Libya except this one city which has no government or apparent hope of anything better than permanent limbo. Where do we go with that?
I’ve heard people saying well, we took too long to stop the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and we didn’t lift a finger to stop the genocide in Rwanda, so let’s not make the same mistake this time. But these seem like preposterous comparisons. This is ugly and it’s brutal but a lot of people getting killed in a failed rebellion isn’t genocide. It’s not.
So let’s review: No clear national or even humanitarian interest for military intervention. Intervening well past the point where our intervention can have a decisive effect. And finally, intervening under circumstances in which the reviled autocrat seems to hold the strategic initiative against us. This all strikes me as a very bad footing to go in on.
But it strikes me as a mess, poorly conceived, ginned up by folks with their own weird agendas, carried out at a point well past the point that it was going to accomplish anything. Just all really bad.
This is why we have checks and balances. This is why a President cannot play Emperor of the Free World and use our military on ill conceived ideas. This is why the UN Charter does not allow for vigilante groups forming and destroying their neighbors on concocted incidents. This is why there is a cool down period for the President to come forward to the People’s Representatives to make his case and get a vote of support.
Sadly we have allowed an impending massacre of protesters turned rebels to throw out our Constitution in a rush to CYA loose talk from a few weeks ago. There is no uglier way to lose our nation than at the hands of incompetent buffoons. Congress needs to step in and demand the administration follow the due process and scrutiny required to make sure we don’t randomly and carelessly destroy human lives. Obama at one time understood the restrictions on a President to wage war. He threw that understanding to floor this week, demonstrating once again why inexperience can be so damaging.
We cannot let the goal of removing Qadaffi to be an excuse to throw out what makes our country unique. Once you make exceptions there is no putting that Genie back in the lamp. If Karl Rove has succumbed, then I don’t see how we can reverse this run down the slippery slope.
We may look back on this moment and see when it all fell apart finally.
Which leads me to what are clearly impeachable offenses (which does not mean we need to initiate an impeachment process). I hate impeachment and recalls because they eat away at our democracy. They should be used in rare and extraordinary situations (not lying about affairs). But if there ever was an incident were the President violated his oath to uphold the Constitution – this is it. I am not there yet, but I can see why it would not be a bad move. Something has to pull us back from the brink here.
Update: We are already seeing mission creep, where we have moved from defending civilians to participating in the rebellion as partners:
Allied forces expanded their air campaign over Libya to thwart Muammar Qaddafi’s fighters and enable rebels to regain control of cities, as leaders debated who should be in overall control of the operation.
We are at war in a country we have no business being in.
Addendum: And don’t even get me started about how a legacy-obsessed Secretary of State orchestrated her Swan Song exit. We have all been manipulated by egos so large they can’t help but remind us why the founders of America limited the role of government in the first place.
Update: When Russia makes more sense than our liberal leaders, you know it is bad.