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April 12, 2011

Comments

Thanks, russell, for quoting a passage from the comment where Gary slanders me but having "nothing to add". You go, bro!

And, by the way, you find me some MF'er Democrats who served at the level of David Addington and John Yoo who were similarly sick. I'm waiting. I'll even wait for 5 minutes.

McT:

I'd think a better fit with the intentions of the founders would be that the President can and should marshal the military against attacks, current or imminent, against the US.

My take exactly; however, I define the US to include US citizens overseas in near-imminent peril.

That's an impressively weak standard. There were US citizens in near-imminent peril in Benghazi, so by that standard you have no cause for complaint with the US participating in preventing the siege of Benghazi.

Thanks, russell, for quoting a passage from the comment where Gary slanders me but having "nothing to add". You go, bro!

That, my friend, is going to need a great deal of unpacking. Gary slandered you? It looks to me as if he's prompting you to reconsider, and you're refusing.

It also looks to me like he's turning the rhetorical tables on you, using a technique you used on him in a comment in a different thread. But I might be missing my guess on what you're taking exception to, here. See how it makes sense for you to explain yourself? Because it's not at all clear what you're referring to with "slanders me".

Other than that, it might make sense to tone down the aggression, a bit, because it's getting in the way of communication. It's even getting in the way of victorious, win-the-thread point-making.

There were US citizens in near-imminent peril in Benghazi, so by that standard you have no cause for complaint with the US participating in preventing the siege of Benghazi.

I don't know if US citizens in Benghazi were uniquely at anymore risk of imminent harm than anyone else in Benghazi. You are generally correct that the standard is not a bright line. US citizens are free to
travel the world, pretty much, and some choose to put themselves in places where the risk level is high. We can't deploy a carrier group every time someone makes this kind of personal decision.

However, if US citizens in particular were being rounded up or threatened somewhere outside out geographical limits, say on an ocean liner or in an airport (or a highjacked airliner), I have no problem with a rescue mission.

Seriously. Are you actually going to sit there and argue with a straight face that the executive has carte blanche to ignore laws or even the Constitution if following them/it increases the risks faced by military personnel? Really? Really really?

No, I don't believe I've made that argument. What I said was that a formal Letter of Marque and Reprisal tips the hand and gives up the element of surprise. If you read my post and my comments, I hope you'll see that my concern is that too many presidents ignore congress' role in initiating hostilities.

If I were making the rules, I'd write a law establishing a small, standing, bipartisan committee of senators and congress members with whom the president could confer in private on those very rare occasions where limited, surgical missions are the best a bad situation has to offer.

Speaking more generally, one can conjure up a variety of scenarios where immediate, nonconsultative crises demand some kind of military action. These are addressed by the WPA. Libya and Bosnia fall outside the kind of emergent circumstances the WPA was intended to address. IMO.

Slartibartfast, thanks for your input. I would suggest that Gary's having equated my views with John Yoo is needlessly insulting and malicious.

russell's statement implying that Democrats have high level political appointees actively promoting a regime of torture is baseless. I believe those kinds of falsehoods are destructive.

When I suggested to McKinney that Obama's OLC had presented a reasonable legal basis for its actions in Libya, he responded "carp .. John Yoo."

I'm not sure that I'm the one who has lowered the level of discourse here, but I'll certainly try to desist.

Russell said he could find sick MFers who were Ds, not that Ds specifically promoted a regime of torture.

I'll leave it to Russell to back that up if he wants, though I too suspect he wouldn't have much trouble finding said sick MFers (depending, of course, on your definition of sick MFer, and whether you require all sick MFers be at the exact same level of sickness).

Thanks for listening, sapient.

Just a brief drop in here, but I feel I should note this. sapient, as I've said before, I'm sympathetic to this argument and similar arguments where you look at the functional/structural reasons why something takes place. It is all well and good to say that we shouldn't have taken military action, but I suspect that Sarkozy was chomping at the bit (the French fighters flew in before AA was suppressed), which is part of a more muscular, interventionist view as seen in Chad and the Ivory Coast. (Here is a list of French interventions, but actually, the period from 95-2007 was rather quiet under Chirac) The overall feel to this is certainly a lot different than Iraq or even the Balkans, so I think that has to dealt with on its own terms. This article suggests that this dynamic is continuing.

And, as you have noted, you don't really get to bitch and moan about the US doing something under UN resolutions that you really don't like, unless you are prepared to say that the US doesn't need to follow any of the resolutions just as you don't get to pick and choose which laws you want to follow, or firemen don't get to choose which fires they want to put out. (well, actually, some do, but that is pretty crappy imho).

This will naturally lead to an asymmetry, where we might feel compelled to go into a country that has a higher profile for lesser reasons. (frex Rwanda or the Sudan as places that aren't going to rise to the attention of the UN) And intervention is going to take on the appearance of the drunk searching for his keys by the streetlight, even though he may have lost them down the street, because the light is better there. Hence, Libya is in a lot better spot than Nepal or Burma.

But you want a more robust system of international justice, ignoring it when you want is not going to help. And hindsight is always 20-20, but when you had a tank column headed down the road to Benghazi, and you knew that Quaddafi had restructured the military to retain loyalty, the view might have been a bit different. Or perhaps the same, and folks who were saying that there would have been no bloodbath would have been comfortable saying that the tank column was not evidence of anything other than a government operating within its natural rights to put down challenges to the state. I'm not, though Libya has not gotten my complete and total attention for any number of reasons. But having the former Libyan ambassador to the US standing in front of the embassy explaining why he was breaking with the regime seemed a bit out of the ordinary. That Quaddafi has figured out a way to retain forces and force stalement is unfortunate, but not surprising, but I'm not sure if you let Quaddafi order the tank column to Benghazi, even though there are other tank columns you are not going to stop, or even think of stopping.

I say all this to simply that while I agree with you, Slarti's advice is quite good. I think it you make your point and step back rather than try to continuously argue it, I think it would work out better. I don't see people who are against the intervention changing their minds, so simply stating your points and backing off would be better, if only for your own equilibrium.

I don't know if US citizens in Benghazi were uniquely at anymore risk of imminent harm than anyone else in Benghazi.

That seems like a peculiar standard to me- it's not the absolute risk faced by American citizens, but the risk they face relative to non-citizens at the same location? So if some terrorist rounds up people indiscriminately then the President would be violating the Constitution to rescue them with military force, but if they've singled out Americans it's Ok? Im sorry if that's not a good generalization, I dont think I get where you're going here.

However, if US citizens in particular were being rounded up or threatened somewhere outside out geographical limits, say on an ocean liner or in an airport (or a highjacked airliner), I have no problem with a rescue mission.

I note that you said rescue mission, not "war".
And if we're talking about Grenada, I still think that leaves the question open of how such a pretext justifies a much larger mission ie overthrowing the government of Grenada.
Really, Grenada seems like it ought to be the textbook example of what you don't like- President goes off on his own and invades another country to replace its government because he doesn't like who they're hanging out with.

No, I don't believe I've made that argument. What I said was that a formal Letter of Marque and Reprisal tips the hand and gives up the element of surprise

I didnt say anything earlier, but I think this is another example of mixing practical and Constitutional concerns- ie Congressional action may tip our hand and cost lives, but if that's what the doc says then that's what it says, right?

America's views about the special rights of their citizens in the world have been noted as peculiar long ago. A famous (British) quote from WW1 (paraphrased from memory): The Americans expect that, if one of their citizens takes it into his head to take a stroll over a battlefield, the combattants cease firing until he has left.

"But you want a more robust system of international justice, ignoring it when you want is not going to help."

Thanks for your comment, lj. The UN aspect is very important to my views about our actions in Libya. I believe that the most effective way for the United States to stop its cowboy/policeman habit is for the authority of the UN and international institutions to be bolstered. Obviously, blind faith in the UN (or any other institution) is never appropriate, but where participation seems warranted it (I believe) deserves the benefit of the doubt.

OT, I hope that you will have time to post about your current circumstances. I'm sure that I'm not the only one here who is sending best wishes your way.

So if some terrorist rounds up people indiscriminately then the President would be violating the Constitution to rescue them with military force, but if they've singled out Americans it's Ok?

Of course not. I was giving examples, not laying out a standard for intervention. To repeat myself: the WPA authorizes actions in emergent circumstances. To take the Benghazi example: the appropriate administration response, in place of initiating wide scale hostilities would have been to put K on notice that he would be held accountable for the lives of US citizens lawfully in Libya. In addition, Obama should have told K that the US would send troops and aircraft to Benghazi to retrieve US citizens and any resistance would be dealt with disproportionately.

But, to simply go along with a portion of NATO and initiate widespread hostilities without congressional approval is outside the constitution.

I think this is another example of mixing practical and Constitutional concerns- ie Congressional action may tip our hand and cost lives, but if that's what the doc says then that's what it says, right?

Pretty much. Kind of like a bunch of other protections that limit state action. Not always practical, but in the long run, it makes for a better country. The rule of law and all that.

CW, I hit post before addressing Grenada. The pretext was a rescue. Regime change is not something I've come to grow fond of. Still though, the WPA is, in effect, pre-authorization for presidential initiative. I don't like it. I think it's abused and I think it circumvents the constitution. That we keep doing and excusing doing it makes it all the easier for us to get into stupid sideshow conflicts that eat up resources and impair our national defense.

To take the Benghazi example: the appropriate administration response, in place of initiating wide scale hostilities would have been to put K on notice that he would be held accountable for the lives of US citizens lawfully in Libya. ...

But, to simply go along with a portion of NATO and initiate widespread hostilities without congressional approval is outside the constitution.

Perhaps, and if your argument is simply with constitutionality, then I'll certainly grant that, as I'm not prepared to argue Con Law. But the model of the US going to protect its citizens is one that seems, at least to me, rather outdated. I think it would be hard to find a place where there weren't US citizens. That wars have been started over the mistreatment of a single person is certainly true, but leads to a rarified notion of national interest that allows any nation to do what it wants with its citizens. This inevitably leads to problems. I'm not suggesting that they are solved because we take military action, but you can't argue for some higher standards of universal human rights, and then say that the US only acts when its citizens are in danger.

In addition, Obama should have told K that the US would send troops and aircraft to Benghazi to retrieve US citizens and any resistance would be dealt with disproportionately.

One could say that the US has an obligation to support its NATO allies, even when they are doing something that might not be so good. Precisely what that limit is before we say to NATO no we aren't going to do it, I can't really say, but I don't think that what has happened in Libya has been pushing up against that line.

Thanks, russell, for quoting a passage from the comment where Gary slanders me but having "nothing to add".

Please believe me when I say I have no dog in the sapient vs Gary fight, and intended no slight toward you or Gary in my comment.

I was scanning the thread, saw "crush boys testicles", had the knee jerk response "John Yoo is a sick MF'er", and found that I could not resist the urge to sully his name in print. Or, pixels.

That's all.

As far as sick dudes who are (D)s or served under (D) administrations, I will point out that a lot of the crapola disclosed by the Church Commission happened under, and with the approval if not eager encouragement of, (D) administrations. School of the Americas, too.

So, that's a pretty long list right there.

Then you can get into guys like J Edgar, who was kind of a bipartisan creepazoid.

Long story short, I sincerely not only did not intend to take a side between yourself and Gary, I don't even know what you guys were arguing about.

John Yoo just makes me angry. I don't like the guy.

Thanks, russell, for clarifying. Yoo makes me angry too, which is why my reaction to Gary's insult was so bitter.

Just for the record, the School of the Americas' infamous reputation is attributable to what it was up to during the Reagan era.

Just for the record, the School of the Americas' infamous reputation is attributable to what it was up to during the Reagan era.

That is categorically untrue. The School of the Americas' infamous reputation was pretty much cast in place by the late 60's, stemming from their activities in the 50's under a different name.

Sick MF'ers who were Democrats? Well, we could start with some obscure guy like the late Richard Holbrooke--

link

A more detailed link about Holbrooke and his pal Paul Wolfowitz and the East Timor connection--

link

I once said that the worst thing about Bush jr.'s foreign policy is that it made me nostalgic for realpolitik. Donald's links reinforce that.

Yep that's pretty bad....longing for the realpolitik of Henry Kissinger...but you have a point LibJ. Wilsonianism run amuck almost had me dreaming fondly of Prince Metternich and Talleyrand; the failures of our democracy and the unaccountability of even local pols induces in me a longing for Pendergast; but I take comfort in the fact that Lucy will always pull the football back. Some things are indeed sacred.

Long noses need expansion room, as the lil wooden boy used to say ;-)

MT:

What I said was that a formal Letter of Marque and Reprisal
Just a Letter of Marque unless it's actually specifically authorizing a reprisal, as well.

The Letter of Marque is what a government uses to authorizes an otherwise private vessel to attack. The "reprisal" part simply means what it says: it's limited to specifically authorizing a Letter of Marque to be used as an act of reprisal, but that only occurs if it is an act of reprisal.

[...] The French used the term lettre de course for their letters of marque, giving rise to the term corsair. Letter of Marque can sometimes describe the vessel itself: a "Letter of Marque" generally refers to a lumbering square-rigged cargo carrier that might pick up a prize if the opportunity arose,[2] whereas a "privateer" was a fast and weatherly fore-and-aft rigged vessel heavily armed and heavily crewed, intended exclusively for fighting.
A "letter of marque and reprisal" would involve permission to cross an international border to effect a reprisal (take some action against an attack or injury) authorized by an issuing jurisdiction to conduct reprisal operations outside its borders.
Most attacks under the authorization of a Letter of Marque were not, in fact, reprisals. More.

Well, before we say "why Clinton and Obama, but not W?" we also need to ask about Reagan; and Panama, and Grenada, and assisting Iraq in the targeting of chemical weapons attacks, and any other little actions I've forgotten about.

I hate the situation in Libya. I hate *that* Obama has lent US support to it, but as a member of NATO, he was under great pressure to do so. Still, while my mindset is not this simple, I can't help but remember the sick joke that fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.

Next: if he is deserving of scorn for attacking, doesn't that make George W. better by comparison?

I'm sorry - George W. doesn't get better, even if Obama is bad. This isn't a race, where a terrible President looks better if his successor isn't good enough (or even if his successor is worse!).

I've learned long ago that the President has a great deal of power, de facto if not de jure, over the military. And as much as I despise the use of military force, complaining about a limited use of it is not going to accomplish anything, except get you mocked by war mongers (who are Very Serious People - see that solemn expression?).

No American interest in Libya. This phrase is problematic on many fronts based on semantics. First you have to define interests. Do we limit those to self-protection or extend it to our economic\humanitarian interests a part of that question. Is it not possible to redefine American Exceptionalism as something other than the Neoconservative delusions. Next what is this war we are committing to. One could argue that any time our military shows up arms at the ready, it is war. As far as the Constitutional question, the War Powers Act does allow for the C-I-C to put military assets in play without congressional consent. The Libyan example is not altogether different from Lincoln's pre-War Powers authority when he put military assets in play before congress was consented. Congress has been in session how long since naval and air assets have been engaged so why is the focus solely on POTUS and not on congressional failings to get beyond politicking and on to serious debate and vote? Obama is in the right until Congress or court says otherwise.

A little late to the party but in regard to Dem Mofos serving as high as Yoo and Addington, howz bout George McBundy and Robert McNamara

At least Mr.McNamara was aware and later even open about the fact that he was involved in serious (war) crimes. I have yet to see or hear that from Yoo and Co. (although the Vice who must not be named showed some flashes of honesty* at times). But I will not object to the general statement.

*I'd attribute them more to supreme arrogance of the Mir-kann-keiner! kind than to any urge to speak the truth.

I was waiting for GF to point out politely that a Letter of Marque and Reprisal isn't what mckinney seems to think it is.

One glaring fault of the Left-in-Power is its lack of respect for the constitutional process on that most fundamental question of committing the country to war.

This was the thesis of this post, and it really is garbage. It is hard not to get angry about this type of historical fantasy for partisan purposes.

Both George Bush Sr. and Jr. made it clear that they did not believe they needed any Congressional authorization to commit the nation to war. George Bush Sr. did so only after he had fully committed the US diplomatically to the war, and troops were in place and war plans fully engaged for the war. The Congressional vote was taken on January 12, 1991, and the bombing campaign began on January 17, 1991. So much before seeking approval before going to war, but at least he finally asked for the vote at a point of practical fait accompli.

George Bush Jr. never did get a declaration of war, and was adamant also that he did not need it. The AUMF was sold not as an authorization for war, and that no decision was made to go to war. It was sold on the premise that the possible threat of war was needed to enhance negotiation. It was sold on the premise that further consultation would be sought if war became necessary. Bush always made it clear that he did not believe he needed Congressional authorization. He ignored Congress later. It was a consummate con job.

From a WaPo article:

Bush Aides Say Iraq War Needs No Hill Vote

Some See Such Support As Politically Helpful

By Mike Allen and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writers

Monday, August 26, 2002; Page A01

Lawyers for President Bush have concluded he can launch an attack on Iraq without new approval from Congress, in part because they say that permission remains in force from the 1991 resolution giving Bush's father authority to wage war in the Persian Gulf, according to administration officials.

At the same time, some administration officials are arguing internally that the president should seek lawmakers' backing anyway to build public support and to avoid souring congressional relations. If Bush took that course, he still would be likely to assert that congressional consent was not legally necessary, the officials said.

Whatever the White House decides about its obligations under the War Powers Resolution of 1973, some House and Senate leaders appear determined to push resolutions of support for ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein when Congress returns after Labor Day because they consider the issue too grave for Congress to be sidestepped.

Administration officials say privately that military strikes against Hussein's regime are virtually inevitable, although all the specifics have not been decided and action is not imminent.

Bush has said repeatedly he will consult lawmakers before deciding how to proceed but has pointedly stopped short of saying he will request their approval. The difference between getting legislators' opinions, as opposed to their permission, could lead to a showdown this fall between Congress and the White House.

"We don't want to be in the legal position of asking Congress to authorize the use of force when the president already has that full authority," said a senior administration official involved in setting the strategy. "We don't want, in getting a resolution, to have conceded that one was constitutionally necessary."

That is the right wing position on this - it is far more rabid than what you ascribe to the lefties.

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