Yesterday, I outlined three scandals within the Obama administration, and asked which would cause the most lasting harm. And about four hours after I published it, I gave myself a major dope slap — I had forgotten the one that will most likely have the greatest effect of all, stretching far beyond our borders and outliving the Obama administration itself.
And that’s Obama’s UnWar with Libya.
For the first time in our history, the president has initiated a war against a foreign state without first consulting with Congress, without gaining Congressional approval, without first discussing the matter with the American people. However, he did manage to find the time to discuss the matter with the United Nations and our allies. He put getting their “buy-in” ahead of gaining any kind of domestic support.
Further, it’s an UnWar without any clear purpose. We are bombing Libya, but we’re not trying to kill K-Daffy and force a regime change. We’re backing the rebels, but we don’t really know who they are and what they want, beyond “they’re not K-Daffy” and “they want K-Daffy gone.”
The Constitution is fairly clear on this matter: the president is Commander In Chief and wages war, but Congress declares war. The War Powers Resolution is of questionable constitutionality, but it’s never been challenged: prior to Obama, every president weaseled past it by following it, but making it clear they were doing so simply because they felt like it — not one of them ever acknowledged its binding nature.
Obama, though, has a different approach. He says the War Powers Resolution only applies when he calls it a war. As long as he calls it a “kinetic military action.” Kind of like how the War On Terror became “overseas contingency operations.”
Even more baffling is that K-Daffy wasn’t much of a threat to the world any more. Yeah, he spent decades being a royal pain in the ass, but after the invasion to Iraq, he seemed to have his “Come-To-Allah” moment. The actual negotiations were carried out in such secrecy that no one has even admitted they existed, but my sources have provided me with these top-secret transcripts:
K-Daffy: “Oh, crap. OK, America, tell you what: here is my entire WMD program. Here are all my records on terrorists that I’ve supported. Here’s a formal apology for the terrorism I’ve sponsored, along with a hefty check for the victims. Here’s a signed promise to not do anything like that ever again. Please don’t invade me!”
Bush administration: (very long dramatic pause): “OK. We’ll take you off our list of ‘zits that need to be popped.’ But we’re gonna keep an eye on you, and if you even think of backsliding, all bets are off.”
K-Daffy: “Allah be praised!”
Now, of course, that’s all in the crapper. The Obama administration, with one stroke, has set the following precedents:
- The president can start and wage wars without Congressional approval indefinitely, as long as he doesn’t call it a war.
- The word of the United States is meaningless, if a future administration believes it would be politically opportune to set aside previous agreements.
- Gaining the approval of the UN and NATO before going to
warUnWar is critical; the approval of Congress and the American people, not so much.
- Once we start an UnWar, there’s no real reason to try to win it; we can just keep bombing indefinitely with no real stated goal, only the hope that “something” will happen to finally resolve the matter. Hopefully in a way that makes things a little better.
About a half a century ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson made one of the most profound observations about power and politics and war: “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.” The principle is simple: if you commit to the use of force, you must commit all to achieving your goals. But even more importantly, you must know what the hell those goals are.
Obama took us into war with Libya with absolutely no clue what he intended to achieve, which means he has no idea how to tell when he might achieve it. His thought process seemed to be: “You know, K-Daffy’s a bad guy, and he’s been a bad guy for a long time. He’s now facing a serious challenge from rebels; let’s help them out and see if we can finally get rid of him. Plus several of our NATO allies want him gone; they think they can get better oil deals from the rebels. But we don’t want to fully commit ourselves, so we’ll just limit our involvement to bombs and missiles. And we’ll say that they’re running the show, even though they couldn’t do squat without us doing the lion’s share of the work and taking most of the risks. So we’ll start blowing things up, and hope for the best. And yeah, we’ll say we aren’t trying to kill K-Daffy, because that would be icky. We won’t have to bother to talk to Congress, like the War Powers Resolution says, because we know they won’t say anything. And since we’re the good guys, it’ll be certain to work out eventually.”
I was never a supporter of the fighting with Libya, but never had a chance to say so. Obama didn’t bother to make his case to the American people why we needed to start blowing it up before he started blowing it up, so there was never a chance to make the case why it was such a stupid idea. But once it started, there can only be one course of action: go all in. Set a goal (such as, say, overthrowing K-Daffy) and then do whatever is necessary to achieve it. Be quick, be decisive, be forceful, and just do it. To use another 19th century quote (this one from Napoleon), “When you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna!”
Of all the messes the Obama administration has inflicted on itself and us, this one has the most potential to cause the greatest long-term harm to the nation. Admittedly, Fast and Furious — secretly arming the Mexican drug cartels for no really clear reason — is messing up our relations with Mexico, but that’s just one nation. One rather large nation that makes up half the nations we share a land border with and has a very disproportionate effect on our economy, but still just one nation. This idiocy in Libya can be a game-changer all over the world.
We’re gonna need years — possibly decades — to clean up the messes this overeducated idiot in the White House is leaving. I only hope like hell we’ll have those years.