Friday, March 25, 2011

Just cause, and Justification for War, are just not the same thing

"Tyranny anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere"
Thaddeus Kosciuszko - Polish Lithuanian who served as a colonel in the American revolution

Battling tyranny is a just cause. Overthrowing a tyrant is a just cause. But being a just cause is not the same as being a justified cause or even a wise one. The fact that Qa’Daffy’s regime exists, is enough of Just cause for America, or for any other free or semi-free nation on earth, to invade and overthrow his regime. Whether or not it would be wise of them to do so, is a separate issue, and not the one I have with what's going on in Libya today. I also don't have an issue with whether or not the President can order a military strike upon Libya. Whether he should order a strike, when he should, and more importantly Why he should - or shouldn't - order such a strike, those are a bit closer to the mark for me.

But to get the little stuff out of the way first.

The President is the commander in chief of the military forces of the United States of America, and the militias of the several states, he is able to order military action, without congressional approval (contrary to what then Senators Obama, Biden and Clinton said of Bush), in order to do what he thinks is required to protect and defend America, Americans and/or their vital interests and property in the event of what he considers to be a credible threat to them.

There are of course serious concerns which come along with bestowing such power, as George Mason expressed in the ratification debates, he,
"... thought it would be dangerous to let him command in person, without any restraint, as he might make a bad use of it. He was, then, clearly of opinion that the consent of a majority of both houses of Congress should be required before he could take the command in person."
However as the Constitution was ratified, the decision was made that it was a necessary risk, as Alexander Hamilton noted in Federalist #74, noted,
"...The propriety of this provision is so evident in itself; and it is at the same time so consonant to the precedents of the State constitutions in general, that little need be said to explain or enforce it. Even those of them, which have in other respects coupled the Chief Magistrate with a Council, have for the most part concentred the military authority in him alone..."
Mr. Spaight, in agreeing with Hamilton's argument during the debates for the importance of one man having undivided command of the military, he pointed out that the checks retained to balance such power,
"... that Congress, who had the power of raising armies, could certainly prevent any abuse of that authority in the President--that they alone had the means of supporting armies, and that the President was impeachable if he in any manner abused his trust...."

It is of course true that Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution gives Congress alone, the ability to declare war:
"To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;"
But using the military to defend America's interests as needed, especially in the face of a clear and present threat, is well warranted, justified, and in no way usurps Congresses authority to declare war. Congress never formally declared war on the Barbary Pirates, yet Jefferson did wage war against them ("...To the shores of Tripoli We fight our country's battles. In the air on land and sea...") - with Congresses authorization (though with much less a one than Bush had).

But that should leave everyone here wondering whether an essentially tribal civil war amongst people predominantly anti-American poses any threat, or concern, to the interest of America. Without that... the President's executive authority and position as commander and chief to call military action, is without justification.

It should be recalled by every citizen, every four years, that one of the primary responsibilities they have as citizens, is to gravely consider when casting their vote for a President, just who it is that they are seeking to give over command of the most awesome and destructive military force on the planet to, and do they feel justified in placing such power in the hands of that person.

Those who may have shown more concern for their candidates slickness, oratorical skills or their ability to either organize a community against banking, or as 'mavericks' passing laws limiting freedom of political speech, may now be questioning whether their candidate really warranted such power. They'd do well to remember their new found caution two years from now. And of course in this instance with Libya today, there still remain certain constitutional procedures to be considered and followed (none of which have to do with the 'War Powers Act'), especially as a 'kinetic military action' (WTF dishonest crap is that?!) might make it necessary to actually declare war, if in fact the act itself didn't already implicitly declare it (now that's an issue whose implications are ripe for debate).

I don't even think that our 'exit strategy' rises to the level of a primary issue... though it was one of the most disgusting things I've ever heard a leader say, one of the few times I've actually involuntarily shouted at the T.V. on hearing Obama's reply to the question of what our exist strategy from Libya was. He replied that our plan was,
"The exit strategy will be executed this week in the sense that we will be pulling back from our much more active efforts to shape the environment", ... and said he had "absolutely no doubt" that control could be shifted from the U.S. to other coalition members within days.

"When this transition takes place, it is not going to be our planes that are maintaining the no-fly zone," the president said earlier at a news conference. "It is not going to be our ships that are necessarily enforcing the arms embargo. That’s precisely what the other nations are going to do."
In other words, after putting some effort in for a few days, encouraging 'our allies' to join us, our exist strategy was to run away and leave it in their hands within a weeks time. This was as disgusting, infuriating, and as shameful a thing I've ever heard a 'leader' say in public. Not surprisingly his 'coalition' is falling apart, as Germany and other nations strategy is to head for the exits before being left holding the bag.

But even all of that is not the primary issue at the moment, not for me at least. It's not even these few questions, though I'd certainly like answers to them as well, such as

  • What was the Left’s issue with Bush invading Iraq?
  • Wasn’t it that people would be killed?
  • No blood for oil?
  • That it was an unjust war?
Using the criteria of the left, how does Obama's 'kinetic military action' not fail their tests and warrant immediate mustering of the ol' hippies walker's and new commie kids to march against it?

But, barring a couple odd Dennis Kucinich's & Ralph Nader's here and there, they have not protested and rioted and burned him in effigy, as they did with Bush, and so clearly those stated reasons could not have been their real motivation for opposing the war in Iraq. Also clearly, given the statement of Thaddeus Kosciuszko noted above, and the history of Saddam Hussein which made Qa'Daffy look like a piker, the Leftists problem with Iraq couldn’t have been that it was an un-just war; Saddam was a tyrant, and any free or semi-free nation on earth had just cause to invade and destroy his regime. But that was never seen or even considered by the left during the Iraq war (under Bush, at any rate), and so they cannot claim it's cover and pretext now. And given the fact that Bush received a set of over twenty resolutions from congress authorizing America to go to ‘war’, and the fact that few, left or right, were complaining that there was never any actual declaration of war made - still the case today - (which has been a bit of an issue with me), then the issue couldn’t have been that the Iraq war wasn’t justified… so what was the real problem that was a problem with Iraq, but isn't one with Libya?

Maybe the better question is, what is it that this ‘action’ has, that the Iraq war didn’t?

My guess is that this ‘action’ has the same thing going for it which the left didn’t object to when Clinton bombed Yugoslavia, which he also did by executive order alone, without congressional approval, just as with Obama today.

What is that you ask?

International approval, especially U.N. approval… that is their measure of ‘legality’ and worth.

But not just any approval, recall that the approval of nations who had recent experience with the oppression of tyrannies, Poland, Ukraine, etc, were discounted as having no standing among the 'old powers' of the world, France even denounced Poland as America's "Trojan Ass". No, the left is a bit pickier about whose approval it is they think is worth having. They prefer the sniffy set, France, Russia, China, and an international 'community' predominantly made up of thugs and despots little or no different from Qa'daffy. Why is that?

More to the point, why is it that the left doesn’t seem to give a fig for constitutional authority or even popular approval from Americans themselves or their representatives in congress…Bush lobbied congress for nearly a year to get overwhelming approval to 'go to war', Clinton and Obama did no such thing. U.N. popularity with among the 'in' crowd, on the other hand, that’s a biggee with them, for apparently in their eyes, if you’ve got that, you’ve got all you need to go to war with.

Let me be clear, our President has just cause to command the military to bomb every square inch of Qa’Daffy’s territory, but even so, he has not established a justifiable threat posed by Libya to America, which justifies our doing so, and there have been no constitutional procedures taken for authorizing it, there hasn’t been congressional approval sought or given, or even consultation, for sending our troops and treasure into battle against Libya.

There is no proper justification for risking our blood and treasure for the purposes of saving Libya’s people from their own government. When George Washington warned of alliances with European powers, he was speaking of making alliances with powers which we had no credible or vital interest getting involved with. I think he would have clearly seen the vital, unavoidable and very credible interests which we had for getting involved with WWII, and would at the very least have seen the basis for "temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies" as an argument for war with Iraq and Afghanistan... but... at this point in time, in this scenario, is there a credible interest or threat to America's interests, for expending our blood and treasure in Libya?

I'm not seeing it. Worse, neither is the President. All he can say, is that 'The international community has demanded it' Well I'm sorry Obama, but just where in the hell is it that our vital interests are under perceivable and credible threat, from a civil war in Libya?!

Forget all the procedural niceties, that is the real basis you need to have for taking our nation into 'kinetic military action' - that is the Justification which needs to be established for those who will see their loved ones wounded or killed, for those people will have the brutally real context for calling this what it is, War.
they are not your constituents,
they are not your vital concern,
they are not who you owe allegiance to (are they?) and
they have no part in the Constitution you swore to uphold and protect!
I'm willing to listen to a case being made for one, but so far all I've heard is that the U.N. community has demanded it... that it is our duty to resolve another peoples civil war - where are your vaunted 'lessons of Vietnam' now you hypocritical P.O.S? You want to risk our blood and treasure on a society which has no coherent structure whatsoever which could conceivably be called pro-Western, and for which there exists plenty of evidence for being anti-Western and anti-American, a society which cheered the release of the Lockerbie bomber... this is the society which justifies our military involvement in their civil war?! Sorry, NO, that IS NOT WORTH our blood and treasure, this 'kinetic military action' IS NOT JUSTIFIED.

I'd even be willing to consider that "Tyranny anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere", and that this action in Libya is somehow part of a wider and coherent plan to eliminate all tyranny... I probably still wouldn't agree, but at least that would show some hint of legitimacy and basis for an argument.

The cause, assuming that the cause is overthrowing Qa’daffy (and even that seems unlikely), is just, but it isn’t justifiable or justified under our constitution - such an action does not protect or defend the constitution or We The People, from whom all its power and authority is derived, which means that this is the arbitrary, non-retaliatory use of military force without even the pretense of having the legitimate authority for doing so.

And with that, I refer you back to Thaddeus Kosciuszko’s quotation above.


Tina Price said...

Very well spoken. I only wish that our conservative leaders in Congress and our conservative media had the guts to say these things loudly and Boldly!! Our world is falling apart around us and our leaders are helping it along the way!!

mushroom said...

We might point out, too, that American and British action against Afghanistan and, I think, specifically, against Iraq after 9/11 was the motivation for Gaddafi/Khaddafi/Q-man to abandon his own pursuit of WMD's.

Perhaps Obama, Clinton, and the French could send a thank-you note to Bush and Blair.

dan morrissette said...

Interesting, isn't it, that McCaine puts his full support behind ANY SUCH HUMANITARIAN incursion to save a nation's people from murderous attack by a tyrannical ruler of that nation.
He sites Darfur, and Rwanda.. (likely Cambodia as well by inference)as cases where we said "Never Again." This is a fine position for the leaders of the UN to adopt and uphold. It is why they are supposed to be "THE UNITED NATIONS".
That, however, is NOT the mission, nor the mandate of these UNITED STATES. It is not for our government to expend our blood nor our treasuries to police the tyranny of his globe.
If we wish to participate in such action with the Global Community, we must do so as an action of WE, the PEOPLE, not of a selective and elitist quarter who may be in power at a given time.
Our participation should be in due measure as a PART of the global community, not extending forth our blood and treasure out of proportion to the nature of the required action and the coalition partnership.
And even then, that action should be dependent upon the limits of our constitution, not dictated by the needs and desires of the global community who have nothing at stake in our existance as a power.

Van Harvey said...

Mushroom said "specifically, against Iraq after 9/11 was the motivation for Gaddafi/Khaddafi/Q-man to abandon his own pursuit of WMD's."

Good point.

"...the French could send a thank-you note to Bush and Blair."

Eh... the French (Mitterand, Chirac & friends anyway) probably saw it more as the loss of another income stream.


Van Harvey said...

"Dan said "Interesting, isn't it, that McCaine puts his full support behind ANY SUCH HUMANITARIAN incursion to save a nation's people from murderous attack by a tyrannical ruler of that nation."

Yep, McCain's a proregressive too, he differs from Obama by degree and style, not principle.

"If we wish to participate in such action with the Global Community, we must do so as an action of WE, the PEOPLE, not of a selective and elitist quarter who may be in power at a given time."

Yep. When our legitimate interests and goals coincide with those of other nations, fantastic, the more the merrier. But at no time should the interests and goals of other nations dictate what ours should be.

Van Harvey said...

Tina said "Very well spoken. I only wish that our conservative leaders in Congress and our conservative media had the guts to say these things loudly and Boldly!!"

Thanks Tina. I wish they would too, but keep in mind, they get their 'courage' from polls and phones being melted by calls from their constituents or 'fans'.

Let them know when you see they are being cowardly, and even more importantly, let them know when you approve of what they are doing, and let them know that you are letting everyone else you know about it as well.

Sal said...

It's back! This makes me so happy.
Good for whatever you did to retrieve it, Van!