Courtesy Bombs

This is a novel argument:

“We are acting lawfully,” said Harold Koh, the State Department legal adviser, who expanded on the administration’s reasoning in a joint interview with White House Counsel Robert Bauer.

The two senior administration lawyers contended that American forces have not been in “hostilities” at least since April 7, when NATO took over leadership in maintaining a no-flight zone in Libya, and the United States took up what is mainly a supporting role — providing surveillance and refueling for allied warplanes — although unmanned drones operated by the United States periodically fire missiles as well.

They argued that United States forces are at little risk in the operation because there are no American troops on the ground and Libyan forces are unable to exchange meaningful fire with American forces. They said that there was little risk of the military mission escalating, because it is constrained by the United Nations Security Counsel resolution that authorized use of air power to defend civilians.

“We are not saying the president can take the country into war on his own,” Mr. Koh said. “We are not saying the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional or should be scrapped, or that we can refuse to consult Congress. We are saying the limited nature of this particular mission is not the kind of ‘hostilities’ envisioned by the War Powers Resolution.”

We’re not engaged in hostilities, we’re just launching courtesy bombs! They’re cuddly metal ambassadors of good will with a high explosive tip! Apparently, you are only at war when you have troops at high risk- launching drones into other nations isn’t war, it’s just aggressive foreign policy!

I don’t care if you think what we are doing in Libya is right or wrong, my main beef is it isn’t clear what the hell we are doing, and got dragged into another mess with a bunch of bullshit. And it’s this kind of crap- “We’re not in hostilities, we’re just launching missiles and helping others launch missiles” that makes me hate all lawyers and politicians.

Just admit we and our NATO allies are at war with Libya, and make the god damned case for what we are doing. But spare me this bullshit.






191 replies
  1. 1
    BTD says:

    I don’t disagree with you but I actually think this is a better response than just ignoring the issue.

    Arguing it is “not a war” at least provides prima facie respect to the legal principles at issue.

    Yes, the best course would be to get Congressional authorization for the policy they support here (I do not), but this is the next best option.

  2. 2
    BGinCHI says:

    Fred is gonna have to quit his job if this kind of posting keeps up.

  3. 3
    Silver says:

    You know, I started playing Civ 5 recently, and I have noticed (like all the other versions of Civ) that once you have a large army, you want to start using it.

    Maybe that impulse explains why every recent US president has been a war criminal. Instead of Roman and Greek pixels dying, it’s actual people we kill.

    And no one gives a fuck, because they are brown and poor.

  4. 4
    NobodySpecial says:

    You know, I started playing Civ 5 recently, and I have noticed (like all the other versions of Civ) that once you have a large army, you want to start using it.

    Once you’ve built the large army, sure you want to use it. Sunk costs and all that.

  5. 5
    cat48 says:

    We’ll find out what the Courts think. Ron Paul & Kucinich are suing Obama & Gates.

  6. 6
    Trurl says:

    The problem with admitting that we’re at war with Libya is the inconvenient fact that we have no idea how to win it.

    Almost three months into the campaign of air strikes, Britain and its Nato allies no longer believe bombing alone will end the conflict in Libya, well-placed government officials have told the Guardian. Instead, they are pinning their hopes on the defection of Muammar Gaddafi’s closest aides, or the Libyan leader’s agreement to flee the country. “No one is envisaging a military victory,” said one senior official who echoed Tuesday’s warnings by Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, head of the navy, that the bombing cannot continue much beyond the summer.

  7. 7
    slag says:

    Where the hell is Levenson? Lunar eclipse open thread, please!

  8. 8
    cleek says:

    @cat48:
    i hope the administration loses.

    it’s too damn easy for Presidents to “use” our military.

  9. 9
    aisce says:

    i don’t know what to think about any of this. everything i’ve read about the situation on the ground and my trust in our president’s judgment says that this is a just war, but stuff like this does appeal to me.

    And it’s this kind of crap- “We’re not in hostilities, we’re just launching missiles and helping others launch missiles” that makes me hate all lawyers and politicians.

    it’s like hedging on what the definition of is is. shouldn’t the administration believe in its own cause enough to come up with a stronger defense? so a limited coalition support action in enforcement of a un directive is now the low bar to clear for official war going forward? if the enemy can’t shoot back at us, it doesn’t count?

  10. 10
    Martin says:

    Since the senate approved both the UN and NATO treaties by a 2/3 vote, they’ve already given authority for the US to act as a member of those organizations. This action was approved by both organizations.

    What’s the point of having a treaty if you need to constantly re-ratify every element of it? If Congress doesn’t want us doing this, they can repeal the goddamn treaty. Both treaties allow for that at this stage.

  11. 11
    cleek says:

    @Trurl:

    Almost three months into the campaign of air strikes, Britain and its Nato allies no longer believe bombing alone will end the conflict in Libya, well-placed government officials have told the Guardian.

    took em three months to figure that out?

    well-placed government officials are muthafukkin retarded.

  12. 12
    aisce says:

    @Trurl:

    oh stop it. the rebels are clearly winning. it’s just that nobody wants them to have to go barreling into tripoli guns blazing to finally take gaddafi out.

  13. 13
    cat48 says:

    @cleek:

    I sorta do too; but a Rethug prez will anyway, no matter what.
    The Dems will cave to pressure; wash, rinse, repeat…Iraq.

  14. 14
    Zifnab says:

    Just admit we and our NATO allies are at war with Libya, and make the god damned case for what we are doing. But spare me this bullshit.

    @Trurl:

    The problem with admitting that we’re at war with Libya is the inconvenient fact that we have no idea how to win it.

    I think that’s half the problem. The other half is that our political system is completely dysfunctional. Republicans won’t vote to fund tornado relief. Put the Libya ball in Congress’s court and they’ll try to de-fund the VA, halve the corporate tax, and reinstate the poll tax by the time legislation leaves the House. Then the Republicans will go wall-to-wall scream-fest about how Obama doesn’t want to help brave Libyan revolutionaries while they stale the bill in the Senate and extract even more concessions.

    When ever bill is a domestic policy hostage negotiation, I really can’t blame Obama for being reluctant to add another bit of legislation to the queue. “Making a case” just exposes you to more enemy fire. Better to just muddle along and try to stay below the radar.

  15. 15
    Citizen Alan says:

    Just so we’re clear on this: The Japanese did not declare war on us at Pearl Harbor because no Japanese troops landed there. Does that mean that we were the aggressors in WWII? Meanwhile, a single drone or missile deliberately launched against U.S. soldiers or citizens on the orders of any nation-state on this planet would immediately be treated by us as not just an act of war but a monstrous war crime.

  16. 16
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    But John, the bullshit is what they live for!

    You’re so cruel.

  17. 17
    Dennis SGMM says:

    War Lite has arrived and it’s way more groovy than regular war because none our people are being killed – yet. People are dying and Libya is being bombed back into the Stone Age but, it’s all good because we’re doin’ it to them by remote control. That we don’t know what Libya will look like post-Qaddafi and that the bill for rebuilding that nation will land in our mailbox are of little moment because War Lite is less filling, lower in calories, and Democratic.

  18. 18
    JGabriel says:

    Question: Do our actions as part of NATO require Congressional approval, or are they already “pre-approved” via Congress’s original consent and passing of the treaty?

    I’m not asking this as a defense of the administration, as it could clearly be abused by either party. I’m asking out of curiousity, and as a point of interest that may have some relevance in the discussion.

    ETA: And I see that Martin has already hit this point as well.

    .

  19. 19
    El Cid says:

    @Trurl: Who seemed to be thinking a lot about how things might turn out?

  20. 20
    stuckinred says:

    @Zifnab: Oh come on, we have to have something to whine about. . .

    And hey, it’s the same thing over you know where, maybe we could just merge and be Balloondoglake.

  21. 21
    stuckinred says:

    @Dennis SGMM: Motherfucker never got out of the Stone Age.

  22. 22

    I’m just glad I opposed Iraq from the git go, that is all I have to say about that. And that I support fighting AQ wherever they are at. I Don’t approve of drones, at least how they are becoming more the weapon of choice to fight by remote control. We can agree on that, but the rest of it? Not so much. And certainly not the lame charges by spotlight seekers that we are tear assing around the world illegally.

    WE been through this many times. The US is a signatory to the UN charter and participant of Security Council resolutions, or world approval to do stuff. And we are not acting in violation of that, such was the case with Iraq, where the required second res was never attained by Bush and we were doing nearly all the fighting, that is not the case in Libya.

    I kind of approve of the UN, and would like to see it gain more primacy over what happens in the world, and we are part of it. The neo cons hate the UN, and apparently they aren’t alone with negating that body’s authority as a chief actor on the world stage in cases of conflict.

    And whatever boost Obama gets of being troll protected from right wing concern trolling over national security issues, he loses much more from anti war, or at least tired and reluctant of war from his dem base. Which is why we will see a more rapid draw down in Afghan now that OBL is dead, and no ground troop involvement in Libya, or anywhere else, unless we are directly attacked, in the run up to the election. And I don”t know where anyone got the strange idea that the dem party was a peace party to begin with. History puts the lie to that notion.

    I don’t like the drone warfare either, but I doubt it will be any kind of issue beyond internet activists.

  23. 23
    chopper says:

    @BTD:

    i’d really like to see the legality of this be hashed out either way, given that more and more of our military attacks are being performed by drones.

  24. 24
    david mizner says:

    This is the best legal argument they have, but it’s not a very good one, because clearly we’re involved in a war, and the Constitution doesn’t make exceptions for limited involvement. Now if you argue that the War Powers Resolution is operative, which Obama will never do, the language seems broad enough to cover limited involvement.

    “It is the purpose of this joint resolution to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States and insure that the collective judgement of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicate by the circumstances, and to the continued use of such forces in hostilities or in such situations.”

    I suppose Pres could argue that this Libyan involvement doesn’t amount to “the introduction of United States armed forces into hostilities,” but to do would be to acknowledge the War Powers Resolution.

  25. 25
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @stuckinred:
    You’re probably right. And NATO will make certain that they have even less before this is finished. I know why Republicans jump into war with no clear goal and no end game, that a Democratic president would do the same is baffling.

  26. 26
    stuckinred says:

    @Dennis SGMM: Seemed like a good idea at the time.

  27. 27
    Brachiator says:

    Just admit we and our NATO allies are at war with Libya, and make the god damned case for what we are doing. But spare me this bullshit.

    Fair enough.

    @Silver:

    Maybe that impulse explains why every recent US president has been a war criminal. Instead of Roman and Greek pixels dying, it’s actual people we kill. And no one gives a fuck, because they are brown and poor.

    So, Clinton was a war criminal, and Serbians were brown and poor?

  28. 28
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    NATO was set up to provide common security for all its member nations. Libya isn’t a member nation or a threat to a member nation.

  29. 29
    chopper says:

    @aisce:

    dunno. ‘war’ has to be defined somehow. was operation infinite reach a war? i don’t think so. yet that was us chucking ‘courtesy bombs’ at dudes.

  30. 30
    Martin says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    The Japanese did not declare war on us at Pearl Harbor because no Japanese troops landed there.

    Actually Japan declared war on us at Pearl Harbor because they actually issued a war declaration just prior to the attack. Germany did immediately after, and we issued formal war declarations in return against both nations.

    In the world of ideal war protocol, everyone dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s. Though I think even then that was the exception rather than the rule. Among other problems that have developed over the years, there wasn’t much in the way of proportional response in previous conflicts. Everyone went all-in. Nobody wants to consider a conflict where the US can go all-in, and so the US is understandably hesitant to declare a conflict where everyone expects it can go all-in.

    Things have simply gotten much more complicated.

  31. 31
    srv says:

    The only moral argument Bush had (not that he used it) for fucking up Iraq was ending 12 years of courtesy bombs. Let’s look at what that accomplished:

    1) did not dipose the leader, did not achieve any verifiable objectives
    2) economically crippled the country
    3) blamed for 100K+ deaths by various orgs
    4) wiped out the countries infrastructure, made it that much harder to rebuild
    5) anybody who could get up and go did, hence anyone with an exportable skillset wasn’t around to help with any reconstruction
    6) we still had to invade/occupy anyway

    I am sure there are many more.

    We are catastrophically destabilizing a nation state and the presumption the result is going to be any better is pretty fucking naive. Any two year old can smash everything in the Pottery Barn, it’s another thing to have a gov’t acting that way.

  32. 32
    KG says:

    @Silver: there’s a Civ5 now? Fuck, there goes what little life I had.

  33. 33
    Alan in SF says:

    Harold Koh, another prominent progressive for permanent war and Presidential dictatorship.

  34. 34
    david mizner says:

    @Brachiator:

    To admit we’re at war with Libya would be to admit we’re in violation of the U.N mandate — remember, this war is illegal twice.

  35. 35
    BTD says:

    @Martin:

    This is not correct. You are positing that the UN has the power to declare war on behalf of the United States.

    Simply not correct. Specifically, any call by the UN for military involvement by member nations is only operable if the nation then authorizes such involvement through means consistent with that nations constitutional operation.

  36. 36
    chopper says:

    @Zifnab:

    this is why i’m torn over the WPR. on one hand, it encourages presidents to get us into far more conflicts than we should be a part of. on the other hand, it makes those conflicts that should be waged more effective by keeping congress as far away from the implementation as possible for a while.

  37. 37
    Trurl says:

    @JGabriel:

    Do our actions as part of NATO require Congressional approval, or are they already “pre-approved” via Congress’s original consent and passing of the treaty?

    I’m sure the WH’s 30 page report due today will explain why – though it might appear otherwise to the untrained eye – Obama’s war on Libya is all nice and legal.

    But now that a lawsuit has been brought, we can let the courts decide that.

  38. 38
    polyorchnid octopunch says:

    I’m amazed that nobody’s made the obvious crack about having an explosive tip.

  39. 39
    NSinNY says:

    Ironically, Koh is probably the finest living legal scholar on constitutional war powers, and he used to be a voice for checks on unilateral presidential authority. His book, The National Security Constitution: Sharing Power After the Iran Contra Affair, is literally the best source for liberal constitutional arguments against the sort of thing he is defending today. He actually spent his academic career fighting against unitary executive theories from people like John Yoo — very sad march from brilliant professor to mere lawyer.

  40. 40
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @General Stuck:

    I don’t like the drone warfare either, but I doubt it will be any kind of issue beyond internet activists.

    It will be an issue for the families, friends and tribesmen of those killed by drone attacks. We may not be losing troops that way but, we’re not making any friends either. Having served in a counter insurgency war, I’d prefer having one live friend among the locals to any number of dead enemies.

  41. 41
    Martin says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: No, NATO was set up to provide security for the region, including but not exclusive to the member nations. If you think NATO wouldn’t have intervened had the Soviets put landing craft on Spain’s shores in 1981, the year before it joined, you’re delusional.

    Membership brings certain obligations toward other nations, but that’s not the exclusive goal of the organization. You could argue that Libya is outside of NATOs reach, but given that Greece and Turkey are members, that’s hardly clear-cut.

  42. 42
    Thoughtcrime says:

    @Martin:

    @Citizen Alan:

    The Japanese did not declare war on us at Pearl Harbor because no Japanese troops landed there.

    Actually Japan declared war on us at Pearl Harbor because they actually issued a war declaration just prior to the attack. Germany did immediately after, and we issued formal war declarations in return against both nations.

    Don’t stop him, he’s on a roll.

  43. 43
    Tonal Crow says:

    @cat48:

    We’ll find out what the Courts think. Ron Paul & Kucinich are suing Obama & Gates.

    Good. Art.I s.8 cl.11 (“Congress shall have power…To declare War”) is very clear, and Obama is very wrong. Whatever arguments one might make for an exception to cl.11 in emergencies, Libya was not an emergency for the U.S. If cl.11 means anything, it means that Presidents cannot begin purely optional conflicts without a Declaration of War.

  44. 44
    Mnemosyne says:

    @BTD:

    Specifically, any call by the UN for military involvement by member nations is only operable if the nation then authorizes such involvement through means consistent with that nations constitutional operation.

    Can you please quote the part of the UN treaty that specifies that? Because Article 6 of the US Constitution just says that treaties have the same force of law as laws passed by Congress, so unless that language is in the UN treaty, I don’t think it’s quite as cut and dried as you seem to believe.

  45. 45
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Martin:

    Actually, Japan planned on declaring war before the first bomb hit Hawaii.

    The problem was, due to the time zone differential, there was a miscalculation. After Washington got the first reports of the attacks, the Japanese diplomats delivered the declaration. As it was, the ‘sneak attack’ meme worked perfectly for the Americans.

    You’re correct on the timeline with Germany…in fact, what Hitler did was give Roosevelt airtight cover for war in Europe. If he had not done that, Roosevelt’s desire to prosecute Europe first would have been under severe domestic political constraint.

  46. 46
    Trurl says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Presidents cannot, without a Declaration of War, begin purely optional conflicts.

    Conflict, shmonflict. It’s just a “kinetic military action” – Obama’s personal contribution to the Newspeak lexicon.

  47. 47
    chopper says:

    @david mizner:

    I suppose Pres could argue that this Libyan involvement doesn’t amount to “the introduction of United States armed forces into hostilities,”

    i don’t see how you could argue that drones dropping bombs on gaddhafi’s forces meets that definition.

  48. 48
    stuckinred says:

    @Tonal Crow: What “cannot”?

  49. 49
    Dave says:

    @NSinNY: I think that is a little much. Koh is doing what everyone in the Executive and the Legislative Branches has been doing since the WPA was passed: tip-toeing around it. Because it has never been challenged and neither side knows who would win if it was. So neither side wants to actually put it to the test.

  50. 50
    Jon says:

    @cat48: There probably going to say it’s non-justiciable.

    Anyway, the trouble is, some of our treaty obligations actually commit us to war and it’s fairly clear that treaty obligations outrank most law (except Constitutional law).

    Time to look into that too.

  51. 51
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Good. Art.I s.8 cl.11 (“Congress shall have power…To declare War”) is very clear, and Obama is very wrong. Whatever arguments one might make for an exception to cl.11 in emergencies, Libya was not an emergency for the U.S. If cl.11 means anything, it means that Presidents cannot begin purely optional conflicts without a Declaration of War.

    Is there an exception clause for if McCain calls you weak?

  52. 52
    JGabriel says:

    NY Times (via John Cole @ Top)

    The two senior administration lawyers contended that American forces have not been in “hostilities” at least since April 7, when NATO took over leadership in maintaining a no-flight zone in Libya, and the United States took up what is mainly a supporting role … although unmanned drones operated by the United States periodically fire missiles as well.
    __
    They argued that United States forces are at little risk in the operation because there are no American troops on the ground and Libyan forces are unable to exchange meaningful fire with American forces.

    Just noting that this is the kind of logic/situation that leads to terrorism — where they attack us at home because they can’t attack us on the battlefield. We’re bombing them, but we’re not there.

    .

  53. 53
    Stefan says:

    So, by this logic, if, say, China starts launching Predator drone strikes at Chinese dissidents within the US, periodically and with great regret killing multiple US civilians milling around their targets, they won’t actually be the kind of “hostilities” envisioned as an act of war….

  54. 54
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    The major differences being that not only did the UN pass a resolution authorizing military intervention to serve larger humanitarian purposes, but also that Gadaffi was warned of this intervention far ahead of time.

    Is it so hard to wrap your head around the concept that Gadaffi, by his violations of human rights, was the aggressor?

  55. 55
    srv says:

    @chopper:

    i don’t see how you could argue that drones dropping bombs on gaddhafi’s forces meets that definition.

    Because the drone pilots are in Nevada. It’s an interesting point – those guys dress up and say they are combatants like any other, perhaps the court should agree with them.

  56. 56
    Jon says:

    @Tonal Crow: if the Constitution really said everything Ron Paul thought it said, we’d be speaking German now.

    Congress declared permanent war when it enacted the National security Act, and when the Senate ratified the North Atlantic treaty, and a bunch of others like it.

  57. 57
    BTD says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Article 43 of the UN Charter:

    Article 43

    All Members of the United Nations, in order to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, undertake to make available to the Security Council, on its call and in accordance with a special agreement or agreements, armed forces, assistance, and facilities, including rights of passage, necessary for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security.
    Such agreement or agreements shall govern the numbers and types of forces, their degree of readiness and general location, and the nature of the facilities and assistance to be provided.
    The agreement or agreements shall be negotiated as soon as possible on the initiative of the Security Council. They shall be concluded between the Security Council and Members or between the Security Council and groups of Members and shall be subject to ratification by the signatory states in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.

    I might add that if it said otherwise the UN Treaty’s ratification by the United States would be unconstitutional.

    The power to declare war lies exclusively with the Congress. In order to change that would require an amendment to the Constitution in conformance withe amendment process prescribed by the Constitution.

    Passage by 2/3 of the Senate alone is not sufficient to amend the Constitution.

  58. 58
    Pat says:

    So drones don’t constitute use of military force now? Wonder if that definition would apply if a drug cartel sent one over downtown El Paso? Obama is so not The One.

  59. 59
    Trurl says:

    @Stefan:

    So, by this logic, if, say, China starts launching Predator drone strikes at Chinese dissidents within the US, periodically and with great regret killing multiple US civilians milling around their targets, they won’t actually be the kind of “hostilities” envisioned as an act of war….

    Ha ha… silly rabbit. There’s no such thing as Chinese Exceptionalism.

  60. 60

    @Dennis SGMM:

    No, we are not making many friends that way, and now that OBL is dead, for me, the justification for using drones attacks on Pak soil ended, and should end when our troops leave the battlefield in Afghan, that needs to happen about now.

    If we are using them in the Libya conflict, then I have real problems with that use, and believe they should only be used in very rare cases against AQ leadership where using a ground force is not practical. Or, almost never using them.

    We need to get out of Afghan as soon as possible, and stop using direct military actions by these drones in Pak, now.

    When it comes to fighting AQ, the UN pretty much threw the door wide open for the world to go after them wherever they were. They for the first time, made it mandatory for member nations to participate fighting AQ members within their own borders. And certainly approved us fighting them in other countries with the permission of that country’s government, such as in Yemen.

  61. 61
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Stefan:

    Would China, in this scenario, have the sanction of the UN?

  62. 62
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Stefan:

    I believe you have summed up the argument nicely, in terms that, however, will not penetrate the thick skulls of a large number of Americans.

    Because the Chinese are not exceptional like us.

    On edit: looks like I owe Trurl a coke!

  63. 63
    patrick II says:

    This administration asserts this is not a war, in part because:

    They argued that United States forces are at little risk in the operation because there are no American troops on the ground and Libyan forces are unable to exchange meaningful fire with American forces.

    As our abilities to fight unmanned wars increases, with drones other types of remote weapons, if the lack of risk to our own soldiers becomes an legal excuse for allowing undeclared wars, those wars become more likely.

    The seeming low risk of remote war makes it too easy to use power. Eventually though, people will find a way to strike back. That is what terrorism is all about.

  64. 64
    Dave says:

    @BTD: Except this isn’t “war”, is it? I mean, that is what this really turns on – the definition of “war”.

  65. 65
    Jim says:

    Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that.

  66. 66
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    WWII timeline:

    Japan starts dropping bombs on the US fleet at Pearl Harbor.

    Japan declares war on the US, after the bombs started dropping. Oops!

    Next day, US declares war on Japan.

    A day or two later, Germany and Italy declare war on the US, because the US declared war on their ally, Japan.

    A day later, the US declares war on Germany and Italy.

  67. 67
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Is there an exception clause for if McCain calls you weak?

    Oh yeah, I forgot that part, and of course the IOKIYAR Clause, too also you betcha.

  68. 68
    Martin says:

    @JGabriel:

    Just noting that this is the kind of logic/situation that leads to terrorism — where they attack us at home because they can’t attack us on the battlefield.

    Uh, no it’s not. Terrorism is asymmetrical. Terrorism happens because they know they can’t afford a straight-up fight. Has nothing to do with the formality of the situation. The allies were hardly opposed to it during WWII when the situation called for it.

  69. 69
    Mike M says:

    Congress could, at anytime it chooses, end our involvement in Libya, or any other conflict. Of course, they would have to pass a law in both houses that could survive a presidential veto. A non-binding resolution is not good enough. There was, after all, a senate resolution urging the administration to get involved in Libya in the first place.

    Congress has already passed implementation laws for both the UN and NATO treaties that authorize military involvement by executive order without further congressional action under specific circumstances. UN security council action is one of those circumstances. Those laws have already been discussed at length on this blog, for better or worse. Whether or not, Truman, for example, should have been able to engage the US in the Korean War has been endlessly debated, but congress has never taken any action to revise the laws that Truman claimed gave him the authority.

    Congress really wants to have it both ways. They want to be able to throw darts at the administration in case of an unpopular military engagement or war without taking any responsibility for it.

  70. 70
    Mnemosyne says:

    @BTD:

    The power to declare war lies exclusively with the Congress. In order to change that would require an amendment to the Constitution in conformance withe amendment process prescribed by the Constitution.

    Except that we have an alternate process: the War Powers Act. If you want to argue that the War Powers Act is unconstitutional — and there’s a pretty good case that it is — then that should be your argument, not that Obama has done something unique and unconstitutional because he’s done the same thing every president has done since the War Powers Act was passed.

  71. 71
    cleek says:

    They argued that United States forces are at little risk in the operation because there are no American troops on the ground and Libyan forces are unable to exchange meaningful fire with American forces.

    by that logic, an unprovoked full-scale nuclear attack against China would not count as “hostilities”.

  72. 72
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Trurl:

    How about Vietnamese exceptionalism, which was only condemned 9 years after their invasion of Cambodia? Their reason for invading was getting rid of Pol Pot.

  73. 73
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Jon:

    @Tonal Crow:…Congress declared permanent war when it enacted the National security Act, and when the Senate ratified the North Atlantic treaty, and a bunch of others like it.

    Interesting argument. Certainly not originalist, but interesting. And damned frightening. But also somewhat contradicted by the AUMFs for Afghanistan and Iraq.

  74. 74
    El Cid says:

    It need only be characterized as a UN authorized humanitarian military intervention.

    Given that UN Res 1973 states
    Protection of civilians
    __
    4. Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory, and requests the Member States concerned to inform the Secretary-General immediately of the measures they take pursuant to the authorization conferred by this paragraph which shall be immediately reported to the Security Council…
    nearly anything can be done, maybe.

  75. 75
    BTD says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Ive made that argument as well. But thast does not detract from my other argument regarding the UN Charter, which expressly requires that military requirements against member nations be approved by that nation’s constitutional processes.

    Both arguments are sound imo.

  76. 76
    chopper says:

    @BTD:

    UNSC actions fall under article 42, don’t they?

  77. 77

    […] it’s not really a war-war. Except for those courtesy bombs we keep dropping (yeah, I know, John Cole went crazy and over to the dark side during the Bush […]

  78. 78
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mike M:

    Congress really wants to have it both ways. They want to be able to throw darts at the administration in case of an unpopular military engagement or war without taking any responsibility for it.

    Exactly. I don’t actually have much of a problem with Boehner’s lawsuit, because right now it’s a legal muddle thanks to Congress’s decision to abdicate their war declaring powers.

    If they want to rescind the War Powers Act and demand that the US immediately withdraw from Libya, they should. It’s the pussyfooting around so they can bash Obama without removing that executive power from a future Republican president that’s irritating as hell here.

    ETA: D’oh! That’s what I get for using a word that includes a banned word. Stupid moderation.

  79. 79

    The constitution did not define how the congress could or should use the granted plenary power to authorize the US to conduct warfare actions. Therefore, when congress ratifies a treaty that expressly requires US participation in the UN security council resolutions, that all knew upon signing could mean military actions, then that was how the congress chose to use this plenary power doctine. If congress does not like what Obama has done acting in concert with the world community through the UN, that they, the US congress ratified us to do so with the UN treaty, then they need to vote us out of that treaty.

  80. 80
    Martin says:

    @Stefan: Really, when did we start killing US citizens of Chinese origin after decades of rejecting diplomatic gestures from China and the UN? Because without that, your analogy isn’t even remotely useful.

  81. 81
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Yeah, but Iraq and Afghanistan are outside the scope of the North Atlantic treaty…and we involved NATO in Afghanistan in part to give NATO some reason to exist now that the Soviet Union has been GONE for 20 friggin’ years.

  82. 82
    srv says:

    @Dave: After being enlightened by John, I prefer the term “Courtesy Conflict” or “Courtesy Liberation”

  83. 83
    Mnemosyne says:

    @BTD:

    Well, I just got tossed into moderation because I innocently used a word that incorporates a bad word, but I think we agree that it’s a muddle that should be resolved. It definitely doesn’t have a simple “it’s legal!” or “it’s illegal!” answer given the current state of US law.

  84. 84
    FlipYrWhig says:

    We are saying the limited nature of this particular mission is not the kind of ‘hostilities’ envisioned by the War Powers Resolution.

    Is the litmus test, then, Boots On The Ground = hostilities? Or would aerial bombing count as hostilities too, but this (they say) isn’t a case of _real_ aerial bombing either, because it’s more support from a distance than direct aggression from planes painted with all the proper colors? I’m wondering how thin they’re slicing “hostilities.”

  85. 85
    mclaren says:

    Hardly a novel response, John. This is exactly the same horseshit we got with the Korean War (“it’s not a war, it’s a police action!”) and the Vietnam War (“it’s not a war, we’re just sending in advisors! Armed advisors! With military support!”) and Lebanon 1983 (remember Lebanon in 1983? “U.S. troops are there in an advisory capacity”) and Panama in 1989 (“This is an anti-narcotic operation…” By the U.S. Army: riiiiiiiight…) and Kosovo in 1998 (“This is not a war, we are engaged in a military support role for NATO”).

    America hasn’t declared war since 1945. Admitting we’ve actually gone to war all those dozens of times would raise uncomfortable questions, like, “What authority does the president have to do this?” and “Doesn’t this violate the War Powers Act?”

  86. 86
    Jim says:

    The only important question here is whether drones are “persons” with the same legal rights as corporations. It all hinges on that.

  87. 87
    Silver says:

    @Brachiator:

    Clinton was a war criminal. There was more than just Kosovo. Lopping a Tomahawk into the Sudan counts. Iraq sanctions. Also too.

  88. 88
    chopper says:

    @BTD:

    article 43 is about giving permanent forces to the UN, creating a ‘standing army’. those agreements never got off the ground (in the US, for the obvious reason).

    article 42 is about temporary use of forces in UN military conflicts, and it’s the part of the charter that’s used as authorization for stuff like libya. and 22 USC 287d expressly states that the president does not need the consent of congress to offer our military resources to the UN to enforce article 42.

  89. 89
    BTD says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Not sure we completely agree but I am sure that President Obama is not doing anything groundbreaking, except frankly, in attempting to acknowledge the limitations on the Presidential power while not really honoring those limitations.

    As I wrote in my first comment, if the President is not going to get Congressional approval, the next best thing is to pretend the Libya actions is “not a war” while acknowledging if it was, the Congress must approve it.

    The Libya action is certainly more limited in terms of use of US military forces, at least human forces.

    But I think the Obama argument is not supportable in terms of his definition of hostilities under the WPR, and more importantly, in terms of the defenition of war under the Constitution.

    The US is currently involved in a NATO operation that expressly intends to topple a government (however loathsome.) That is obviously an act of war.

  90. 90

    […] fighter planes involved in action over Libya, then the answer to that question is no. However, as John Cole notes, we are using Predator drones to launch missiles at Libyan target on an as-needed basis, so […]

  91. 91
    Adam C says:

    Want to play Global Thermonuclear Non-Hostilities?

  92. 92
    mclaren says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    …that should be your argument, not that Obama has done something unique and unconstitutional because he’s done the same thing every president has done since the War Powers Act was passed.

    Shorter version: “Other people did it too, so it’s not illegal!”

    This legal sophistry proves especially interesting when we apply it to, for example, serial rapists. LAWYER: “We cannot claim that this rapist has done something unique and criminal because he’s done the same thing every other serial rapist has done since laws against rape were passed.”

    Not a real great legal argument there, skippy.

  93. 93
    dollared says:

    Jesus Christ John Cole, just insert “Jews” or “West Virginians” in your “I hate lawyers and politicians” rant, and maybe you’ll figure out you’ve just been a bigoted jackass.

    George Bush hated lawyers too. Sometimes good ones tried to make him follow the law.

    Do you hate the doctors who tell you you’re overweight?

  94. 94
    Maude says:

    @General Stuck:
    The Repubs in the House aren’t doing well. Ryan’s plan flamed out and the economy is not good. I bet this about that. Boehner knows the treaty covers this and he is making a dust up for distraction. Also, too, the debt ceiling.

  95. 95
    NSinNY says:

    @Dave: If you don’t want to put the War Powers Resolution to the test, there is another equally conservative move available: seek Congress’s approval, while claiming it is not necessary in this instance. You’re still tiptoeing, but in a way that does considerably less violence to system of checks and balances which, until recently, Mr. Koh so forcefully defended.

    Because courts usually don’t rule on war powers (on the grounds that it’s supposedly a “political question”), the state of the law is determined, for better or worse, by past practice. Ignoring Congress and carving out massive air assaults from the definition of conflict has a much deeper effect on future conflicts than would deferring to Congress while admitting the ambiguity of the law.

  96. 96
    david mizner says:

    @srv:

    So that, in fact, is the argument President Obama is making, that the War Powers Resolution doesn’t apply because this the U.S. is engaged in “hostilities.”

    Charlie Savage:

    “The White House says the act requiring approval by Congress doesn’t apply to the Libya operation because what United States forces are doing there doesn’t amount to ‘hostilities.'”

  97. 97
    BTD says:

    @chopper:

    I disagree with your view of Article 43. I also disagree with your interpretation of 22 USC 287d whic states:

    The President is authorized to negotiate a special agreement or agreements with the Security Council which shall be subject to the approval of the Congress by appropriate Act or joint resolution, providing for the numbers and types of armed forces, their degree of readiness and general location, and the nature of facilities and assistance, including rights of passage, to be made available to the Security Council on its call for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security in accordance with article 43 of said Charter. The President shall not be deemed to require the authorization of the Congress to make available to the Security Council on its call in order to take action under article 42 of said Charter and pursuant to such special agreement or agreements the armed forces, facilities, or assistance provided for therein:

    Provided, That, except as authorized in section 287d-1 of this title, nothing herein contained shall be construed as an authorization to the President by the Congress to make available to the Security Council for such purpose armed forces, facilities, or assistance in addition to the forces, facilities, and assistance provided for in such special agreement or agreements.

    My emphasis. The provision provides that except as Congress has previously provided, the President CAN NOT offer assistance to UN Military operations, but can offer the previously authorized assistance with no further approvals required by Congress.

    Moreover, if the provision is construed as you state, it would be violative of the Constitution providing the President and the Security Council the Congress exclusive power to declare war on behalf of the US.

  98. 98
    Trurl says:

    @mclaren:

    Admitting we’ve actually gone to war all those dozens of times would raise uncomfortable questions…

    There’s also the uncomfortable matter of what we do if Congress actually does tell Obama that he can’t continue waging war on Libya and Obama tells them to go Cheney themselves.

  99. 99
    Jim says:

    I’m just glad Sarah Palin isn’t in the White House, she’d probably start targeting American citizens for assassination, keep Gitmo open, and start two _more_ illegal wars. That Sarah Palin is nuts.

  100. 100
    Dave says:

    @NSinNY: I am not actually arguing any of that. I’m just saying that neither the Executive or the Legislative have wanted to actually decide on the Constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution. And it’s been that way since the day it passed. I don’t think Koh is selling out or upsetting checks and balances. He is following in the footsteps of Democratic and Republican political leaders of the past 35-40 years.

  101. 101
    Brachiator says:

    @Silver:

    Clinton was a war criminal. There was more than just Kosovo. Lopping a Tomahawk into the Sudan counts. Iraq sanctions. Also too.

    So you would have preferred that the outrages in Kosovo continue?

    @david mizner:

    To admit we’re at war with Libya would be to admit we’re in violation of the U.N mandate—remember, this war is illegal twice.

    So, since the UN doesn’t really matter, I guess the idea is that Congress should just man up and declare war. Or hold fast and then impeach Obama if he refuses to relent.

  102. 102
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Yeah, but the US hasn’t “declared war”. We’re dropping bombs, but we haven’t “declared war”.

    We did not have sexual relations with that woman. Also. Too.

  103. 103
    sapient says:

    BTD, This action falls under Article 42, not Article 43.

    “Article 42:

    Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.”

  104. 104
    chopper says:

    @BTD:

    well, if the existence of an article 43 agreement is a necessary prerequisite for our involvement in an article 42 action, then we’re in trouble.

    looking at the congressional record of both the house and senate during the passing of 287d and article 42 actions, it’s clear congress intended such actions not to impugn on their power to declare war. they said that explicitly at the committee level, in fact:

    house report:

    Preventive or enforcement action by these forces upon the order of the Security Council would not be an act of war but would be international action for the preservation of the peace and for the purpose of preventing war. Consequently, the provisions of the Charter do not affect the exclusive power of the Congress to declare war.

    senate:

    The committee feels that a reservation or other congressional action such as that referred to above would also violate the spirit of the United States constitution under which the President has well-established power and obligations to use our armed forces without specific approval of Congress.

  105. 105
    NR says:

    @Jim: Come on. None of this is Obama’s fault. Everyone knows there aren’t 60 votes in the Senate to end these wars.

  106. 106
    Jim says:

    >>”So you would have preferred that the outrages in Kosovo continue?”

    Just as you, no doubt, would have preferred that the outrages in Iraq under Saddam continue? Are you 9 years old?

  107. 107

    @Maude:

    Boehner’s sternly worded letter and the Kucinich junk lawsuit are simply pol stunts for whatever their political purposes be. All of them know full well that congress is not powerless in this situation, and are far from it. While the Constitution gave congress the total power in dealing with war making, and how their permission is formulated, they were given even a bigger plenary power, that being of the purse. And any time they want they can vote a veto proof majority to make it illegal to spend a single nickel by Obama in Libya or anywheres else, if they were serious about stopping the president from doing about anything that cost any taxpayer money, such as the recent ban on trying AQ on US soil.

  108. 108
    BTD says:

    @chopper:

    I do not see how that helps your argument.

    I see it as a clincher for MY argument.

  109. 109
    Jim says:

    @NR: That is true. Nothing is Obama’s fault. The unitary executive is really more of a figurehead in our system.

  110. 110
    TK-421 says:

    A long time ago John imagined a hypothetical scenario where Mexico had aerial drones, used them to bomb drug cartel targets across the border in the US, and occasionally made mistakes and hit wedding/funeral/etc. ceremonies instead. What would Americans, specifically Texans, Arizonans, New Mexicans, and Californians think of that? And why do we think other people would be more forgiving than us?

    I really wish John would remind us of that scenario more often. Manned or unmanned, justified or not, it doesn’t change a basic fact- we’re killing sovereign nations’ citizens on their homesoil without their consent (and arguably without provocation). Right or wrong, we’re at war with lots and lots of countries. I too share John’s disgust with the cowardly bullshit that surrounds these wars.

  111. 111
    Georgia Pig says:

    @cleek: Kind of poor analogy; China could retaliate in a big way once they detect missiles inbound. The drone strikes do push the envelope, the other material support less so. Plus, only Congress can enforce the WPA by embargoing funding, and they won’t do that.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that, while there may be no moral or political difference, there can be a legal difference between what is considered an “act of war” under international principles and what the WPA characterizes as the kind of exercise of “war powers” for which the President needs authorization from Congress. The WPA is US law, not international law. For example, as the administration seems to be saying, “war powers” under the WPA may be interpreted as referring to relatively large scale mobilization in which there is a significant chance of a loss of a significant number of American lives, significant expansion of a conflict (think Cambodia) that causes international problems and/or a huge expenditure of national resources. Right now, it’s arguable that our involvement in Libya is none of these. Just to be clear, I’m not saying that there aren’t problems with the morality of what’s going on and its political implications, but it’s not always a good idea to turn every moral or political issue into a legal issue.

    After Gates’ speech, I’m wondering if the whole Libyan thing is an exercise in putting the Europeans on the spot. Their concerns about massive influxes of Libyan refugees drove a lot of this, and that could ostensibly provide the basis for NATO action.

  112. 112
    Trurl says:

    @Brachiator:

    So, since the UN doesn’t really matter, I guess the idea is that Congress should just man up and declare war. Or hold fast and then impeach Obama if he refuses to relent.

    Yep.

    Or is wiping one’s ass with the Constitution something that only bothers you when Republicans do it?

  113. 113
    BTD says:

    @sapient:

    That is irrelevant to the issue of whether the President can commit military resources to the UN.

    Article 43 describes how that occurs and as has been pointed out, the US statute on point references Article 43.

    How the UN carries out any actions under Article 42 does not affect how the United States can be brought into a military conflict, which, according to Article 43, must conform with a nation’s “constitutional processes.”

    Look, I suggest a reading of the Obama Administration’s defense of this action. There is a reason they are not making the argument you forward, because it is unsound.

    Their argument is this is “not a war.” There is a reason why they make this argument and not the one you are forwarding.

  114. 114
    eemom says:

    John GALT Cole. You totally posted this cuz Greenwald told you to. So how come you never post what I tell you to?

    Once a lying snivelling low life Republican, ALWAYS a lying snivelling low life Republican. Only difference is now you take your orders from GREENWALD instead of Karl Rove.

    There are two things I don’t trust, and they’re both YOU.

    /Fred

  115. 115
    Trurl says:

    Incredibly, the Obama Administration itself was using the War Powers Act as justification early on for its lack of Congressional authorization, insisting it had a full 60 days to do so. With those 60 days long gone, suddenly they have decided it no longer applies. This might explain the linguistic gymnastics of a number of officials, who have referred to the war as a “kinetic action.” Yet the War Powers Act, passed during the Vietnam War era, was careful to not include this out, making it clear all uses of troops required such authorization.

    http://news.antiwar.com/2011/0.....-in-libya/

  116. 116
    Mnemosyne says:

    @mclaren:

    This legal sophistry proves especially interesting when we apply it to, for example, serial rapists. LAWYER: “We cannot claim that this rapist has done something unique and criminal because he’s done the same thing every other serial rapist has done since laws against rape were passed.”

    Yes, because taking action under the War Powers Act is exactly like raping someone.

    If you want to make a moral argument, be my guest, but the legal argument is not as simplistic as you want it to be.

  117. 117
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @srv:

    After being enlightened by John, I prefer the term “Courtesy Conflict” or “Courtesy Liberation”

    War is hello.

  118. 118
    NSinNY says:

    @Dave: I guess I hear you. It’s just that, when you write a whole book about the disaster that has been the last 35-40 years, it looks a little like selling out when you do the exact same thing.

    I’m a lawyer, I get what he’s doing, but it’s sad to watch. Reminds of how I felt when Wellstone voted for DOMA.

  119. 119
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Silver:

    You know, I started playing Civ 5 recently, and I have noticed (like all the other versions of Civ) that once you have a large army, you want to start using it.

    “The blade itself incites to violence.” – Homer (that is, the original, not Simpson)

  120. 120
    sapient says:

    BTD, the statute says:

    “The President shall not be deemed to require the authorization of the Congress to make available to the Security Council on its call in order to take action under article 42 of said Charter and pursuant to such special agreement or agreements the armed forces, facilities, or assistance provided for therein”

  121. 121
    chopper says:

    @Trurl:

    in the beginning we were flying actual sorties. now we’re flying drones.

    the administration’s entire argument is that the former would be ‘the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities”, whereas the latter would not. and that once we switched to the latter, the WPR no longer applied.

  122. 122

    @sapient:

    Yes, but BTD’s usual mish mash mumbo jumbo trumps what stuff actually says.

  123. 123
    Jim says:

    >>”Yes, because taking action under the War Powers Act is exactly like raping someone.”

    That was meant to be ironic, right? Actions taken under the War Powers Act generally result in mass rape, death, mutilation, and torture. By our side and the other. Which is why the WPA attempts to constrain the executive’s ability to enter hostilities willy-nilly.

  124. 124
    El Cid says:

    How about Courtesy Guns?

    It’s not really an exaggeration. We figured a good way to track down the estimated 20,000 of 30,000 guns acquired by the Mexican narco-paramilitaries come from the US was to sell them a shit-load of guns.

    In, I shit you not, Operation Fast and Furious.

    Mexico drug war: US sting ‘let cartels buy guns’
    __
    Hundreds of US guns were bought, resold and sent to Mexican drug cartels in an Arizona sting operation while US firearms agents were ordered not to intervene, Congress has heard.
    __
    Three firearms agents said they were told to track the movement of the weaponry, but not to make any arrests.
    __
    US lawmakers expressed outrage at the details of Operation Fast and Furious.
    __
    The news comes one day after a report suggested Mexican drug cartels have armed themselves with US weapons.
    __
    The report suggests some 70% of firearms recovered from Mexican crime scenes in 2009 and 2010 and submitted for tracing came from the US.
    __
    ‘Daily’ gun purchases
    __
    On Wednesday, congressional lawmakers concluded that Fast and Furious, which was designed to track small-time gun buyers to major weapons traffickers along America’s south-west border, never led to the arrest of any major traffickers.
    __
    The guns tracked by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were reportedly used in numerous killings in Mexico.
    __
    Lawmakers on the House of Representatives Oversight Committee said they demanded answers from the Obama administration about why no arrests were made while investigators were tracking the firearms.
    __
    “We monitored as they purchased handguns, AK-47 variants and .50 caliber rifles, almost daily at times,” ATF agent John Dodson told the committee.
    __
    He added that though he wanted to “intervene and interdict these weapons”, his supervisors told him not to make any arrests.
    __
    At a hearing prior to the panel, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said “hundreds upon hundreds of weapons” destined for cartels in Mexico were purchased in gun shops in Arizona.

    Maybe we should have just called the cartels “freedom fighters”.

    However, I sure as hell don’t want to listen to these hypocritical Republican fucks and their NRA pimps who refused to allow gun shops to be asked to make a fucking note about people repeatedly buying larger quantities of guns.

    You know, because it’s so god-damned oppressive for those poor gun shops just because they sell 60 AK-47’s to one guy in a 4 month period. Poor small businessmen and their big gubmit oppression.

    From a January bust of an Arizona-based gun smuggling network:

    For instance, according to the indictments, defendant Joshua Moore bought six AK-47 and similar rifles from a gun store in Prescott in 2009.
    __
    Three days later, he bought two AK-47s from a gun store in Glendale.
    __
    Seven days later, he bought 10 from the same store.
    __
    Two days later, he bought five more there. __
    Less than a month later, he bought 20 from the same store.
    __
    Three months later, he bought 10 more from the Glendale gun store.

    With this kind of complete hostility to any sane degree of regulation of gun shop activity (“freedom” my ass, like filling out a fucking form by a gun shop just crushes their libertardedness), no wonder an agency like the ATF goes nuts.

    47 fucking AK-47’s purchased from one god-damned gun shop and the fucking pro-terrorist pro-death squad store owner can’t be bothered to get off his ass and think something more than a profitable customer might be going on.

    I hate these fucking people so god-damned much.

  125. 125
    Brachiator says:

    @Trurl: RE:So, since the UN doesn’t really matter, I guess the idea is that Congress should just man up and declare war. Or hold fast and then impeach Obama if he refuses to relent.

    Yep. Or is wiping one’s ass with the Constitution something that only bothers you when Republicans do it?

    Of course, the Republicans don’t give a rat’s ass about the Constitution. They only care about the War Powers Act because it’s Obama. I do appreciate the impeachment box they have going here.

  126. 126
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @KG:

    there’s a Civ5 now? Fuck, there goes what little life I had.

    Stick with Civ 4 – it’s better. But if you want your life sucked away, download the Fall From Heaven Two mod for Civ4 – it totally turns the game into something even more awesome.

  127. 127

    My emphasis. The provision provides that except as Congress has previously provided, the President CAN NOT offer assistance to UN Military operations, but can offer the previously authorized assistance with no further approvals required by Congress.

    LOLwut? I don’t think they were actually wasting these words to simply state the president can do what he has previously been authorized to do. That is a nonsensical interpretation when the other wording expressly authorizes the president to act within the UN res with more permission not needed.

  128. 128

    […] American fighter planes involved in action over Libya, then the answer to that question is no. As John Cole notes, though, we are using Predator drones to launch missiles at Libyan target on an as-needed […]

  129. 129
    Trurl says:

    @chopper:

    in the beginning we were flying actual sorties. now we’re flying drones. the administration’s entire argument is that the former would be ‘the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities”, whereas the latter would not. and that once we switched to the latter, the WPR no longer applied.

    American servicemen directing American weapons against a foreign power with the intention of killing its leader does not consitute “hostilities”.

    Got it.

  130. 130
    Martin says:

    @El Cid:

    The right to bear arms protected by the Second Amendment is the best insurance policy that the American Mexican people could have against tyranny.

    If you love tyranny so much, maybe you should marry it.

  131. 131
    chopper says:

    @Trurl:

    no, it doesn’t constitute “the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities”, unless you think an unmanned drone is a member of the armed forces.

  132. 132
    terry chay says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: It wasn’t a time zone differential, that caused the error. The issue was there was a debate internally on whether to declare war or not. Admiral Yamamoto wanted a declaration 30 minutes before the attack was to start. The compromise was to give a wishy-washy pseduo-declaration before the attack started. This was delayed due to transcription problems over the cable or something (ironically I believe the U.S. had actually broken the code and received the message before the Japanese ambassador did). This incident is what you are referring to.

    The formal declaration of war was delivered publicly the day after the attack.

    Given that we had cracked the Japanese codes before the war even started (this is how we killed Yamamoto, defended Midway, etc.) it looks like waiting until just before the attack to deliver the cable was a savvy one.

  133. 133
    chopper says:

    @sapient:

    actually, BTD is right about that – the “and pursuant to such special agreement or agreements” makes a big difference.

    i would still argue that congress clearly intended in the record to defer quite a bit of their power to wage war to the president in terms of working with the UN under article 42, especially given that a full-on article 43 agreement was dead in the water.

  134. 134
    Brachiator says:

    @El Cid:

    US lawmakers expressed outrage at the details of Operation Fast and Furious.

    Any outraged lawmakers should be referred to the NRA.

  135. 135
    Epicanis says:

    In short, it’s not “war” if the targets can’t shoot back?

    Here’s a less sinister but somehow more depressing thought – what if all this is purely happening because the military is the only “jobs”/”stimulus” program we’re actually allowed to have right now?

  136. 136
    Trurl says:

    @chopper:

    unless you think an unmanned drone is a member of the armed forces

    The drone isn’t acting on its own. It’s being remote piloted by an American serviceman. This is the introduction of the US armed forces into hostilities. The wording of the War Powers Act has no “unless there’s no risk to the armed forces” exception.

    It’s really not complicated.

  137. 137
    Martin says:

    @chopper: Actually, that’d still count. Once you enter their airspace or territorial waters with a military asset without permission, and certainly once ordinance is dropped, you’re considered in according to Congress.

    What I think is more interesting here is that Congress hasn’t said shit about Yemen or Pakistan, which are no more or less an involvement than Libya at this stage, and both have been going on vastly longer than 60 days.

  138. 138

    @chopper:

    Then what is meant by needing “constitutional processes” for the US to engage in military actions through the UN? The senate, I believe at least, did a “sense of the senate vote” approving that Obama was going through the UN in this matter. Was that an authorizing constitutional process? If congress disagrees with Obama’s lending assistance militarily to a UN action, then they are fully welcome to do some more “constitutional processes” to put an end to it, which they can at any time by simply closing the purse strings.

    Is it, or does the definition and very concept of declaring war take on a different meaning when something like Libya is done by the numbers, by the entire world as represented by UN security council resolutions for a humanitarian purpose? I think it does, and the entire nation state concept of making war, does not really line up with what the framers had in mind for declaration of “war”/

  139. 139
    chopper says:

    @General Stuck:

    it is kinda weird. article 43 was intended to create a standing army for the un, yet the unpa makes it out like it isn’t anything like that.

  140. 140

    @Martin:

    I think what makes Pak and Yemen different is it deals with AQ and the Taliban, both in the original world wide sanction the UN did for both just after 9-11. And both are theoretically covered by the AUMF as well, which Libya is not.

  141. 141
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @terry chay:

    I thank you for that correction…makes perfect sense, I think I was relying on old scholarship that wasn’t aware of those details in my admittedly off the top of my head post.

    The bottom line is, there was an intent to declare war (however wishy-washy) prior to the bombs falling, and of course Murphy was fully aware of all internet traditions and we got a “doh!” out of it.

  142. 142
    chopper says:

    @Trurl:

    not if the american service member is not introduced into hostilities, which he isn’t if he’s sitting on an office thousands of miles away.

    his commander, sitting in an office on a base in virginia, gave him the order to go ahead with the strike. is he ‘introduced into hostilities’ too? is a CIA dude piloting a drone from an office in langley ‘introduced into hostilities’? is he no longer ‘in hostilities’ when he walks away from the desk to take a shit?

  143. 143
    chopper says:

    @Martin:

    yeah, but a drone operator (the member of the armed forces) isn’t in the airspace. he’s in an office thousands of miles away.

    it’s a tricky legal question given the wording of the WPR, and it’s one obama has jumped on.

  144. 144
    Trurl says:

    @General Stuck:

    both are theoretically covered by the AUMF as well, which Libya is not

    When the “our military operation to effect regime change isn’t hostilities” argument gets laughed out of the court of public opinion, they’ll claim a Gaddafi-AQ connection whose substance they can’t reveal due to “national security” issues.

  145. 145
    El Cid says:

    @General Stuck:

    by the entire world as represented by UN security council resolutions

    People can respond legalistically or in whatever institutional manner, but to claim that the UN Security Council in any way represents ‘the entire world’ is silly.

    I mean, if anyone cares about the meaning of “represent” as in having some substantial role in making a decision.

    It’s the 5 powers and if Russia and China abstain, as they typically do, then it’s done. If you feel like following the votes of the rotating membership, great.

    If you want to arm-twist, bribe, and threaten nations into voting with you in the General Assembly — we do it all the time — that’s one thing.

    But the UN Security Council is in no way in the slightest some sort of democratically representative body, and whatever one thinks of any particular action doesn’t change that at all.

    Nor was it designed to be. The major goal of the UNSEC was to have a mechanism of resolving disputes and deciding issues without the 5 major nuclear powers going to war. That’s why there’s the 5 permanent members.

  146. 146
    Bender says:

    @Brachiator:

    Clinton was a war criminal. There was more than just Kosovo. Lopping a Tomahawk into the Sudan counts. Iraq sanctions. Also too.

    Sanctions? Sanctions? You think Clinton only did sanctions?

    It never ceases to amaze me how lefty drones conveniently forget (just as they — and Big Media — conveniently forgot in 2003) that Bill Clinton, without consulting or notifying Congress, launched more cruise missiles on Iraq weapons-development targets in 1998-1999 than were launched in all the Gulf War, killing hundreds of Iraqis.

    Why did he do this? Because intelligence sources swore Saddam had WMD, and Clinton was convinced that he’d use them again if he weren’t bombed into submission.

    Good evening. Earlier today, I ordered America’s armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programmes and its military capacity to threaten its neighbours. Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States, and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world. Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbours or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.

    I had to post this dozens of times on these very comment pages for history-challenged lefties in 2003, because they failed to believe that Clinton could’ve done such a thing 4 years earlier without the media raising a big stink over it.

    I see you guys haven’t gotten any better at history in the meantime.

  147. 147
    Trurl says:

    @chopper:

    it’s a tricky legal question given the wording of the WPR

    Perhaps the reason the WPR doesn’t define “hostilities” is because the meaning is obvious to anyone not trying to weasel up an excuse for an imperial president.

    If I ordered someone to kill you in your house, you would not consider it a “tricky legal question” whether or not I was being hostile towards you.

  148. 148
    chopper says:

    @Trurl:

    on the other hand, there’s always the likelihood that you’re an idiot.

  149. 149
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @El Cid:

    The UNSC predates there being more than one nuclear power; the second nuclear power did not emerge until 1949.

    The point being, the five “great” powers of the time (I say this with a sneer because arguably France and China didn’t belong in the same class as the US, USSR, and the UK) were given permanent seats on the SC because they were the great powers in existence at the end of WWII…it was felt that they were the ones who had the necessary moxie to keep the peace. This was put together before the US-UK/USSR split of the post war period became apparent.

  150. 150
    dmbeaster says:

    The courts have been ducking consideration of the legal issues concerning war powers for decades, and will continue to do so. So long as they continue to do so, this remains a political issue – even the invocation of legalism is a political argument. We do not have a meaningful legal framework for regulating war powers. Uncertainties about the War Powers Act also makes compliance with its provisions a primarily political act.

  151. 151

    @El Cid:

    As human endeavors goe, the UN is no perfect institution, as are the imperfections of every single member state. But it is what we have, that is the closest thing to a world collaboration to undertake humanitarian missions throughout the world. Personally, I approve of what they are doing in Libya, and if they had done similar actions over the years, a lot of lives would not have been lost. Sometimes you have to fight to prevent larger catastrophes. It doesn’t much matter what it’s called, but does matter the ultimate purpose. And so far, the purpose the closest thing we have to world action in Libya, is one I can support. YMMV

  152. 152
    Trurl says:

    humanitarian missions throughout the world

    It’s funny how our humanitarian impulses are most frequently excited by the plight of nations with large oil reserves.

  153. 153
    El Cid says:

    @Bender:

    It never ceases to amaze me how lefty drones conveniently forget (just as they—and Big Media—conveniently forgot in 2003) that Bill Clinton, without consulting or notifying Congress, launched more cruise missiles on Iraq weapons-development targets in 1998-1999 than were launched in all the Gulf War, killing hundreds of Iraqis.

    I guess it depends on your notion of “lefty”, but they were pretty much the only people I knew to bring up this information.

    However, it’s relevant to point out one detail when citing munitions used in Gulf War 1: despite nonsense about smart bombs and F117’s and such as characterizing the air war, the US dropped the greatest tonnage of conventional bombs on Iraq and Kuwait since WWII.

    In 126,645 sorties over the next 43 days of the Gulf War, Pentagon figures show, those aircraft dropped 88,500 tons of bombs on Iraq.

  154. 154
    Brachiator says:

    @Bender:

    Sanctions? Sanctions? You think Clinton only did sanctions?

    What in the world are you talking about? You take a line that somebody else wrote, mistakenly attribute it to me, and then go off on a stupid rant.

    Learn to read, dude.

  155. 155
    grillo says:

    Surely you mean exploding companion cubes.

  156. 156
    grillo says:

    Surely you mean exploding companion cubes.

  157. 157
    BTD says:

    @sapient:

    Go on . . . or did you decide the rest of the statute does not count.

  158. 158
    BTD says:

    @General Stuck:

    Yes, Harold Koh said exactly what sapient said. Oh wait, he didn’t. Instead he came up with some cockeyed definition of “hostilities” instead.

    Because who would want to make the straightforward easy argument when you can engage in some serious newspeak?

    Too funny.

  159. 159
    Suffern ACE says:

    @dmbeaster: I would assume that the courts would punt it back as well, since the Congress does have its own powers to get the president to do what it wants in this situation. If Congress is divided or gridlocked and can’t decide what to do in matters of war, why is it for the court to decide? The ten members of Congress who filed this thing should, in fact, spend their time convincing their fellow congressmen make a decision.

  160. 160
    chopper says:

    the silver lining of this whole legal argument is, it makes it look like obama isn’t very big on the idea of escalating our involvement past drones, intelligence gathering and logistics. cause he knows congress will flip it’s shit over it and he’ll have to deal with the WPR within the bounds of what he himself is now defining.

    i guess it’s a not-so-subtle suggestion to nato to get the shit over and done with cause we’re not going to be a big part of it ever again.

    jesus, i hope so at least.

  161. 161
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: There were also issues of delays (on both sides) due to personnel being off for the weekend, the slow nature of the coded transmission, the length of the document, difficulties decoded and translating, &c. That portion of WWII is a fascinating subject in and of itself.

    @El Cid:

    The major goal of the UNSEC was to have a mechanism of resolving disputes and deciding issues without the 5 major nuclear powers going to war. That’s why there’s the 5 permanent members.

    I would have to disagree with you characterize the mechanism by which the constitution of the permanent members was decided, but in a general sense it describes the general outcome of that process.

  162. 162
    Trurl says:

    @chopper:

    i guess it’s a not-so-subtle suggestion to nato to get the shit over and done with

    Yeah, unfortunately, there’s a little problem with that

  163. 163

    @BTD:

    Because who would want to make the straightforward easy argument when you can engage in some serious newspeak?

    Done all the time, depending on current circumstances. When we were directly involved doing regular bombing runs with manned aircraft, the legal eagles of the Obama administration were saying they were acting legally via the UN charter and our belonging to that, and honoring a security council res for humanitarian intervention.

    Now that we don’t have mil personnel directly in harms way, they are floating another legal theory allowed by the minimal non personnel in combat posture we are now in with Libya, after the 60 day WPA requirement. I think it was always covered via our UN obligations, and limited expenditure of money, that otherwise would require congress to get involved.

    It’s all parlor bullshit of one sort or another, competing and alternate legal theories aside. Because the giant trump card lies with congress and it’s power of the purse to put a stop to our involvement in Libya, once and for all, if it so desires. Their inaction to do so, speaks volumes of where they come down on our involvement in the UN action in Libya.

    The rest is just political bluster and posturing.

  164. 164
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Cole

    I don’t care if you think what we are doing in Libya is right or wrong

    then stop whining about it.
    Two posts on the front page? It obviously bugs the crap out of you.
    Let me explain.
    In December the SOFA will cause all american troops to leave Iraq except for 150 trainers. The means we TURN OVER the three largest airbases ever built on foreign soil (built at a fantastic cost to american taxpayers) to the Iraqis.
    We are trying to negoitiate “permanent ” airbases with the Karzai government. But the Paks wont let us drone the shit out of the tribal areas to force the Talibs into a power-sharing arrangement with the Karzai government.
    So no permanent airbases in A-stan either.

    In Libya at least, Obama can be on the side of the small brown people for once. My personal preference is not to practice Humanitarian Imperialism and Right-to-Protect doctrine, but I understand WHY Obama jumped in. He is cultivating a relationship with next government of Libya, and repairing our damaged relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt.
    We need Egypt, they represent 25% of all the arabs there are, and Egypt is the cultural and educational center of the arab world.
    And they have that pesky semi-porous border with Israel.

    so are you a concern troll on Libya, Cole? Do you really not understand the dynamics here? Obama would like one muslim state that will have good diplomatic relations with America without al that Mubarak-Shah-HorrorshowBush-OIF-OEF baggage.
    We caused the slaughter of a million muslim civilians and created 4.5 million muslim orphans for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
    Obama is trying to repair our image, like he said in the Cairo speech.

  165. 165
    Bender says:

    @Brachiator:

    Sorry, it was Silver, not you, who made the mistake. Untwist your panties.

  166. 166
    Bender says:

    We caused the slaughter of a million muslim civilians and created 4.5 million muslim orphans for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

    No, wait, a billion! No, 10 billion! A trillion!

  167. 167
    chopper says:

    @Trurl:

    certainly. but this legal position washes obama’s hands on the matter. at least on paper.

  168. 168
    Sapient says:

    .@General Stuck: “It’s all parlor bullshit of one sort or another, competing and alternate legal theories aside. Because the giant trump card lies with congress and it’s power of the purse to put a stop to our involvement in Libya, once and for all, if it so desires. Their inaction to do so, speaks volumes of where they come down on our involvement in the UN action in Libya.”

    Thank you.

  169. 169
    John Weiss says:

    @stuckinred: “And hey, it’s the same thing over you know where, maybe we could just merge and be Balloondoglake.”

    Oh I think not.

  170. 170
    John Weiss says:

    @chopper: “dunno. ‘war’ has to be defined somehow.”

    It’s defined in the Constitution. Congress has to declare war. Interestingly (and annoyingly) the last time this country declared war was (correct me if I’m wrong) against Japan. The Korean War was carried out by the UN, mostly using American troops. The Vietnam War was a ‘police action’. And so on.

  171. 171
    chopper says:

    @John Weiss:

    where does the constitution define ‘war’?

  172. 172
    John Weiss says:

    @Jim: “Just as you, no doubt, would have preferred that the outrages in Iraq under Saddam continue? Are you 9 years old?”

    No need to go ad hominum, Pard. The outrages in Iraq were quite awful but real, honest-to-pete genocide was going on in Kosovo. I don’t think that the two conditions were the same, though I will readily accede that SH certainly wanted to wipe out the Kurds, and perhaps would have gotten to it at some point.

  173. 173
    El Cid says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Now, I should be clear that I’m giving my own view of the matter. That this is what is the effective reasoning.

    It’s not that the basic logic hasn’t long been embraced by scholarship and historians, among whom are counted former diplomats serving on the UN Security Council.

    I don’t think there are too many looking at the very creation of the UN (from when the USSR suggested it to when the US was the most active in shaping the Charter) who don’t recognize that its main purpose was to remove war as a method of ending international disputes.

    And that meant most prominently war between the great powers. That list did change a bit over time, but the main characteristic of the threat of war between the great powers after 1945 meant nuclear war.

    From the former UN Ambassador from Canada David Malone’s collection of scholars’ and diplomats’ examinations of the history and role of the UN Security Council:

    From Elizabeth Cousens, currently Principlal Policy Adviser for the US Mission to the UN, and a litany of prior UN positions:
    [T]The Council at times provided an instrument for the superpowers to manage their engagement in regional theaters in a way that plausibly contributed to reducing the risk of direct confrontation between them.
    __
    …[T]he central preventative challenge of the Cold War — that of averting conflict between nuclear-armed superpowers — was clearly met…

    __

    From Kishore Mahbubani, currently a Professor at National University of Singapore, Singapore’s Permanent Rep. to the UN, and most recently President of the UN Security Council (Elected 10) from 2001 to 2002:
    __
    …The most celebrated of the special privileges granted to the Big Five, the right of veto in the Security Council, was not so much an instrument of great power dictatorship over small states as a factor injected into the relationships of the great powers among themselves…
    __
    At San Francisco the small states accepted the superiority of the mighty as a fact of life. Their first objective was to ensure that all of the great powers would accept their place in the leadership corps of the new organization; in this they were successful, and this fact was perhaps the major basis for the hope that the United Nations would prove more effective than the League.
    __
    Their second objective was to constitutionalize the power of the international oligarchy; toward this end they achieved the incorporation in the Charter of a surprising array of limitations upon arbitrary behavior, including the procedural brake upon collective decisions by the great powers which was implicit in the rule of unanimity…
    __
    …[A]n implicit political compact was achieved between the mighty and not-so-mighty. In return for the veto power, the great powers committed themselves to the principles of the UN Charter and to act on behalf of collective security…
    __
    …”The ‘foundation on which the UN was built’–by the great powers–was the great-power veto.” [US] Secretary of State Cordell Hull declared in the 1940s that “our Government would not remain there a day without retaining its veto power.” [Quoting Andrew Boyd]…
    __
    …In the Council, the [Permanent 5] have been given power without responsibility; the Elected 10] have been given responsibility without power…
    __
    …In the field of peace and security, the P-5 remain the only five legitimate nuclear powers. Of course, within the P-5 there is also a pecking order. In UN corridors, it is often said that the Council is dominated by the P-1, as the United States is sometimes called… After the United States, China and Russia are regarded as the next most important national powers.
    __
    It is noteworthy, however, that even for E-10 representatives who come from states with larger economies than those of the P-5 (e.g., Japan and Germany), there is no change in the patter of P-5 domination…
    __
    …[T]he two most active members of the Council among the P-5 have been the UK and France. This situation could be a reflection of their traditional activist foreign policies, by which both have provided leadership on issues far from their national borders.*
    __
    However, many in the UN community also believe that their activism in the Council is an attempt to justify their continuing permanent membership at a time when there is increased questioning of whether permanent membership should be conferred only on the victors of World War II [China?] nearly six decades later.
    __
    * It’s interesting that it’s suggested that two powers who jointly controlled much of the far-flung world as colonial rulers and then post-colonial super-influencers are interestingly concerned with issues ‘far from their national borders’.

    Mahbubani’s view is interesting as one who presided over the Security Council from one of the not-too-empowered E-10 nations, and he’s also continually writing for the US press from the point of view of Asians tired of the de facto domination of the world by the West in policy and lecturing, and also how Singapore is awesome.

  174. 174
    John Weiss says:

    @Trurl“It’s funny how our humanitarian impulses are most frequently excited by the plight of nations with large oil reserves.”

    I don’t see how cynicism is much help. The Middle East is the current big festering boil. Africa next, I suppose.

  175. 175
    John Weiss says:

    @chopper: “where does the constitution define ‘war’?”

    Chopper, I’m not sure that the Constitution defines war. It seems that it only lays out how war is declared. Here’s a link about that: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/p.....treaty.htm

    But, I find your question interesting. I don’t know the answer. Perhaps a little noodling of the internets will reveal the answer.

  176. 176
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    Mind you, it’s an interesting argument – when Hamas fires rockets into Israel, it’s not a hostile act because they’re unmanned rockets…

  177. 177

    @John Weiss:

    I think it falls under The Plenary Power Doctrine I mentioned earlier. The founders purposely defined little of the powers they bestowed on the branches of government. And congress got the lions share of those where the power is granted in totality without any further explanation. The President only has one, to where he is unanswerable to anyone, and that is the power to pardon those having runnins with the law.

    Congress has the most, and the ultimate power of the purse, but power to grant sanction to war, with all of the definitions thereof also being a plenary power that congress is unanswerable to for defining in our system of government.

    So “war” is what the congress says it is. Whether assymetrical, traditional nation state conflict, or whatever they want to point the US military to shoot at. The only limitation is not violating international laws, which is why it is vexing to me, the resistance from some libs on the Libya action. Which squarely fits into international law, and by the numbers via UN articles we signed up for.

    Given that there are always going to be conflict around the world, and imminent humanitarian disasters, such as the one intervened in Libya, it seems to me something coming from a body loosely representing the would community is a good thing and trend Obama is attempting to establish for this country. Especially if we have no troops involved. And those doing most of the actual fighting, are doing it for own interests, and we are only assisting.

  178. 178
    Ken_L says:

    The bullshit serves as an important propaganda insurance policy. In the unlikely event that Libya manages to retaliate by hurting an American somewhere, your whole establishment can furiously condemn Libyans as vile evil Islamofanatic terrorists instead of acknowledging that waging war usually involves casualties on both sides.

  179. 179

    […] if it’s a non war (as we have so declared as a courtesy), it needs no declaration of war. Or even a power of war. As is declared in the War Powers […]

  180. 180
    Dr. Morpheus says:

    @Silver:

    And no one gives a fuck, because they are brown and poor.

    Nobody gives a fuck because their The Enemy™.

    Did anyone complain when the bombs were falling on white Christian Serbs?

    Nope.

  181. 181
    John Weiss says:

    @General Stuck: Very interesting reply.

    “Congress has the most, and the ultimate power of the purse, but power to grant sanction to war, with all of the definitions thereof also being a plenary power that congress is unanswerable to for defining in our system of government.”

    So Congress, with the ‘power of the purse strings’ defines war, and any other spending as it sees fit. Interesting. So, Congress can define what’s a war and what’s not, or anything in between by funding it or not. So it seems that the concept of war is arbitrary. I’d never looked at it that way. Very interesting.

    Struck, I like the cut of your jib.

  182. 182
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @El Cid:

    However, it’s relevant to point out one detail when citing munitions used in Gulf War 1: despite nonsense about smart bombs and F117’s and such as characterizing the air war, the US dropped the greatest tonnage of conventional bombs on Iraq and Kuwait since WWII.

    Sorry, Cid old chap, that’s wrong. It’s not even close. 6.7M tons in Vietnam.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  183. 183
    Dr. Morpheus says:

    @chopper:

    no, it doesn’t constitute “the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities”, unless you think an unmanned drone is a member of the armed forces

    Is a bullet “a member of the armed forces”? If not, then even with troops on the ground firing guns we’re “not engaging in hostilities”.

    There’s a person in Utah ‘driving’ that drone and they are certainly a member of our armed forces (CIA or not).

    While I supported the initial action in Libya, now that NATO has officially taken over I think we should remove all of our forces.

  184. 184
    Cromagnon says:

    Yeah Obama is just as bad or worse than Bush… We’ll all be much better off once Sarah Palin is president

  185. 185
    El Cid says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: You’re right. It’s pretty sad that I still repeated this trope from the billion dollar media — even though I’ve repeatedly used the accurate stats about the tonnages the US dropped on Vietnam, Laos, and our greatest achievement in contribution to genocide, Cambodia.

    Yet I just skipped on the phonograph and didn’t click the two at the same time, otherwise one shows the other to be nonsense. I even regularly refer people to the Cambodian Genocide Project’s detailed maps of US bombing points, and how nearly 2.8 million tons were dropped on that benighted land between 1965 and 1973.

    Lazy, lazy mental loop.

    By the way, we have such detailed information because when Clinton visited Vietnam, he released extraordinarily detailed stats from Air Force records on every recorded bombing target with available data for all 3 nations bombed.

    Intended to help people of the region be blown up a bit less frequently by unexploded ordinance, but also a rich resource for anyone to understand the horrors visited upon these people.

    Maybe the reason the big dollar media started saying this during Gulf War 1 was that it really made them excited, as they obtained noticeable sexual stimulation every time more info was politely handed them about the latest awesome demonstration of massive yet gently and precisely targeted US firepower.

  186. 186
    El Cid says:

    @Dr. Morpheus:

    Did anyone complain when the bombs were falling on white Christian Serbs?

    Well, yes, they did, but if now as then people didn’t anywhere near as commonly read and discuss such matters on blogs, no one might have heard about it anyway, whatever opinion one held.

  187. 187
    DogNap says:

    So technically, if I put a gun on a robot and send him next door, that’s not hostility. Sorry, Obama, it doesn’t wash.

  188. 188
    chopper says:

    @Dr. Morpheus:

    no, because our troops are on the ground in hostilities.

    if we figure out how to shoot a bullet from a gun 1000 miles away, then the same question would be raised re: ‘hostilities’. but a soldier in a firefight is most definitely ‘in hostilities’, even though his bullet is dumb.

  189. 189
    chopper says:

    @DogNap:

    no, it’s not ‘hostilities’. if i kick my dog, that would be considered ‘hostile’, but not ‘hostilities’ in the manner of the war powers resolution.

    if you put a gun on a robot and send it next door to shoot your neighbor, it would not fall under ‘hostilities’ with regards to warfare.

  190. 190
    sparky says:

    @Alan in SF: i remember when Koh was mister human rights, so this is a particularly nauseating example of toadyism. amazing to me how everyone in the upper echelons of power, whether press or political type, becomes a toady to the State. at this rate the US is going to overtake the late unlamented East Germany for servileness.

  191. 191
    chopper says:

    @sparky:

    dunno about koh, but if i believed in 11-D chess i’d say obama is deliberately boxing himself in on the issue. i can’t rationally explain why he waited til the 11th hour to provide congress with the info required under the WPR, he isn’t one of those dudes (like bush) who wakes up the morning of the final all ‘shit, i forgot to study!’. and obama certainly doesn’t come off as a president who has let the power of the presidency turn him completely into an imperialist, not yet at least.

    this seems a real hint-hint to congress; if it’s more than drones and recon then congress is in control, and he’s needled those preening, self-absorbed bastards just enough that there’s no chance they’ll support anything more. when mission creep dictates that NATO expand the campaign, obama shrugs his shoulders and says ‘sorry, congress wouldn’t possibly let me do any more.’

    either that or obama is trying to piss all over congress cause he’s mad with power.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] if it’s a non war (as we have so declared as a courtesy), it needs no declaration of war. Or even a power of war. As is declared in the War Powers […]

  2. […] American fighter planes involved in action over Libya, then the answer to that question is no. As John Cole notes, though, we are using Predator drones to launch missiles at Libyan target on an as-needed […]

  3. […] fighter planes involved in action over Libya, then the answer to that question is no. However, as John Cole notes, we are using Predator drones to launch missiles at Libyan target on an as-needed basis, so […]

  4. […] it’s not really a war-war. Except for those courtesy bombs we keep dropping (yeah, I know, John Cole went crazy and over to the dark side during the Bush […]

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